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Okinawa Festival Shifts Dates, Becomes More Local

TOKYO – The Okinawa International Movie Festival, which is backed by the Yoshimoto Kogyo talent agency, Tuesday confirmed a shift in dates and announced a line-up of 20 titles for its 8th edition.

Instead of its usual March slot, the festival will run April 21-24 in locations around Okinawa.

“The budget for this (fiscal) year is really tight; we don’t want to stop the festival, so we moved it to April so we can include it in next fiscal year’s budget,” said Yoshimoto president Hiroshi Osaki.

The opening film will be Justin Kurzel’s “Macbeth,” which opens nationwide on May 13. It is the first European feature to be distributed by Yoshimoto, in association with Ireton Entertainment, a production and distribution start-up headed by former Warner Japan CEO William Ireton.

Katsu-do, Yoshimoto’s film production arm, will be screening two new films in Okinawa: actress/director Kaori Momoi’s drama “Hee,” which premiered at Berlin last month, and industry veteran Sadao Nakajima’s documentary “Chambara: The Art of Japanese Swordplay.” Free Stone Productions is handling international sales of both titles.

The OIMF is also becoming more of a year-round community arts festival, with 100 film screenings and comedy events being held at 30 locations in Okinawa since the spring of last year. “I would like the OIMF to keep expanding, while establishing itself as an ‘entertainment festival’ that goes beyond the framework called ‘films’,” said Katsu-do CEO Hidesuke Kataoka.

One new section at the fest this year will be Okinawa Historical Movies, featuring Okinawan history, culture and customs. Also, returning will be the ‘creators’ factory’ section for emerging directors — Kiki Sugino (“Taksu”) and Koji Fukada (“Sayonara”) are past awardees — and the TV director’s movie section.

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