Originally released in 1992, the legendary Okinawan film “Pineapple Tours” was given a digital remaster as well as a theatrical run this month for its 30th anniversary! The film features an almost entire shimanchu cast and crew which was and still is quite amazing for its day. It was the film that sparked a wave of new films filmed in Okinawa that became just a legendary like “Nabbie’s Love“. Let’s hope it’ll see a digital release with English subtitles.
The 2022 Okinawa International Movie Festival (OIMF) is set for 4/16 to 4/17! Like last year, they’ll also be streaming a select number of films online but you’ll need to create a FANY ID (see their website for more details). The top film for this year’s festival is the documentary “Murasaki” (about the legendary rock band) which will be its world premiere and hot on the heels of the hit movie “Miracle City Koza”.
We’re really excited to see how Luchu and its people are portrayed in this upcoming drama from NHK called “Chimudondon” based on the life of Higa Nobuko. The heroine (pictured above) of the drama is played by Kuroshima Yuina and is set to air in the Spring 2022 TV season. And in case you’re wondering about the theme song, it hasn’t been announced yet so we still have hope that it’ll be an artist from Luchu.
This is amazing. Ahead of its Okinawa premiere on 1/21 and even its Japan premiere on 2/4, the Hawaii International Film Festival “HIFF” holds the prize of presenting the world premiere of “Miracle City Koza” on 11/7! What’s even better is that in addition to a one-day in-person screening, the film will also be available online to audiences in the USA from 11/10 to 11/28 with English subtitles. Tickets can be purchased from hiff.org on 10/15 (HIFF Ohana members) and from 10/18 for the general public.
Read our previous post introducing the film and view the trailer below.
The last film from Okinawa to screen at HIFF was “Okinawan Blue” (Kokoro Odoru) in 2019.
Director Taira Kazuhiro’s upcoming 2022 film “Miracle City Koza” has a poster, trailer, and an announcement that its first screening will be on January 21st at Uchinaa theaters! From there, the film will be shown in Japanese theaters from February 4th. The film looks to be a lot of fun and stars Kiritani Kenta (his Uchinaa connection is the artist behind the ultra-popular “Umi no Koe” song) and will feature the legendary Uchinaa rock bands Murasaki and Condition Green.
Let’s hope overseas film fans will have a chance to see this in the festival circuit.
With news that the 66th annual Eisaa Festival may actually take place this year (it was canceled last year due to the pandemic), the special movie “Eisaa Don Don” was made available on YouTube until August 31st. Be sure not to miss it!
Tweeted by actor/model Shogen, a 2019 film he stars in called “Okinawan Blue (Kokoro, Odoru)” — written and directed by Kishimoto Tsukasa (remember his name as he’s one to watch) — is available for streaming on Filmdoo.
Also streaming on Filmdoo is 2012’s “Karakara” a Canadian film written and directed by Claude Gagnon and one that I was able to watch at the Hawaii Film Festival. While not as Okinawan (lead actors are not Uchinanchu) as “Okinawan Blue”, at least the music is by one of my favorite musicians, Ara Yukito (Parsha Club).
You can also find other films (some of them are free!) from Okinawa that are (or aren’t yet) available on Filmdoo by creating a filter search on their website. Be sure to vote on the films you want to watch that aren’t yet available in your region!
We don’t get a lot of films from Okinawa so if you see on whether at a festival or on a streaming site, we must watch it! A film that’s currently available on Amazon Prime is The Man Who Changed Okinawa starring Garage Sale’s Gori who we recently featured on Karakui.
Here’s the synopsis via Geta Films:
This is based on a true story about a coach of a high school baseball team who’d like to change people’s mind in Okinawa through baseball. Hiroyoshi Sai is assigned as a coach to the baseball team at Ryukyu Fisheries high school. The baseball team members are welcome the arrival of the capable coach Sai, but he recruits skillful players for next freshmen from all over Okinawa.
His target is just to win the National High School Baseball Championship, called “Koshien” in up-coming couple of years. However, teachers and students around the school get suspicious about his way of coaching with an iron fist.
Nonetheless, his belief never shakes and his team grabs the right to participate in the championship with various difficulties.https://www.getafilms.com/the-man-who-changed-okinawa
Directed by Kishimoto Tsukasa, the film was a hit in Okinawa if going by ticket sales, and garnered enough attention to be English-subtitled and streamed outside of Japan. It’s also one of the few films from Okinawa with an Okinawan director and main actor. If you are able to watch the entire film (you can search for reviews of the film in English and in Japanese to see why it may be difficult to do so), and you have an understanding of Ryukyu, how did it make you feel? Personally, I feel that the beginning of the film as well as the first scene in the bar pitting Gori agains the other teachers sums up the reality of being Okinawan and their desire to show their strong will despite the human costs. The title of the film itself is interesting because it leaves out whether Coach Sai changed Okinawa for the better or for the worse and leaves it to the viewer to decide.
The film’s poster at Consolidated Theatres Pearlridge West 16.
“Minami no Shima no Furimun” (also called “Furimun’s Paradise” or “Furimun in Okinawa“) is the 2009 directorial debut of comedian/actor Gori of the comedy duo Garage Sale. Gori, who also stars in the film as its main character Eisho (the furimun), also gets credit for writing the film as well. (A synopsis of the film can be found on AsianMediaWiki.)
The film trailer.
Rounding out the rest of the main cast:
- Masaru (a father figure & friend of Eisho’s) played by Masao Teruya
- Rimi (Masaru’s daughter & Eisho’s friend) played by former Folder/Folder5 member AKINA
- Hitoshi (Eisho’s best friend) played by Daisuke Moromizato of the comedy duo Ham.
- Masaru’s wife is played by Kanako Fukuda
- Hitoshi’s mom is played by Yoko Tanaka
- Kinjo-sensei played by Tomi Taira
Making appearances in the film are Rimi Natsukawa as the saataa andagi fortune-teller, ISSA (DA PUMP) as a bartender, KEN (formerly of DA PUMP) as a bar’s door person, Taeko Yoshida as a bar’s mama, and Hiroki Kawata (Gori’s partner in Garage Sale) as a referee.
The film is currently screening at Consolidated Theatres Pearlridge West 16.
You’ll find some film trivia as well as a look at the music featured in the film after the jump.
Long a fan of HIFF (Hawaii International Film Festival), I’m happy to see a Spotlight on Okinawa for this year’s festival. Three films shot on location in Okinawa will be shown: “Gunjou (Cobalt Blue),” “Manatsu no Yo no Yume (A Midsummer’s Okinawan Dream)” and “Nada Sou Sou (Tears for You).”
While the three films featured in the Spotlight on Okinawa were filmed on location in Okinawa, the lead actors are not from Okinawa — though they’re represented in supporting roles (mainly Tomi Taira in “Manatsu no Yo no Yume” and “Nada Sou Sou,” and Mitsuru Tamaki in “Manatsu no Yo no Yume” and “Gunjou”).
The film I’m really looking forward to is “Manatsu no Yo no Yume.” The film was directed by Yuji Nakae — a name that should be familiar to Okinawa films fans — who gave us “Nabii no Koi” and “Hotel Hibiscus.”
You’ll find the trailers to the films after the break.