Best Films We Saw at the Okinawa International Movie Festival

TW recently enjoyed a short stay in the sub-tropical climate of Okinawa for the prefecture’s 11th annual International Movie Festival. The three-day celebration always attracts large crowds, particularly for the red-carpet event along Kokusai-Dori which features a host of well-known actors and comedians. The focus of the festival, though, is the array of films being shown around the city of Naha. Here’s a look at four of our favorites from the long weekend.

Photo credit: Din Eugenio

How to Bring a Woman back to Good Humor

A live-feature adaptation of Ihoko Kurokawa’s critically-acclaimed essay, How to Bring a Woman back to Good Humor is a light-hearted film that looks into the differences between the male and female brain when it comes to relationships. Former Momoiro Clover idol Akari Hayami plays the lead role of Ai Majima, an AI researcher writing a thesis on how men can make women feel better by analyzing the brain. To help with her studies, she decides to get a job at a wedding hall. Her expertise comes in handy at a reception in which a variety of relationships threaten to explode. Shunsuke Arita’s entertaining movie won the Audience Award at the festival.

Director: Shunsuke Arita
Cast: Akari Hayami, Yuta Hiraoka, Rena Matsui
Expected Release Date: June 15, 2019

Photo credit: Din Eugenio

Grandma is Okay

A touching human drama based on Akiko Kusunoki’s picture book of the same name, Grandma is Okay tells the story of an elderly lady’s battle with dementia told through the eyes of her grandson. Child star Kokoro Terada puts in a wonderful performance as the lead character Tsubasa, a shy elementary school student who is struggling to cope with his grandmother’s illness. She had always been a tower of strength in his life but has now changed, often getting angry and forgetting important things. At last year’s Milan International Film Festival, 10-year-old Terada became the youngest ever person to win a Best Actor gong for his portrayal of Tsubasa, while Jacky Woo won a Best Director award.

Director: Jacky Woo
Cast: Kokoro Terada, Manami Fuji, Sei Hiraizumi
Expected Release Date: May 10, 2019

Photo credit: Din Eugenio

My Father, the Bride

Returning to her home island of Niijima for her late mother’s memorial service, Tohka is shocked to see her father now dressing as a woman. Adding to the surprise, she’s then told that he is planning to get re-married to a local man named Kazuo. A fun family drama, that’s quite heart-warming at times, it stars Itsuji Itao as the father and Honoka Matsumoto as his daughter who is going through a rough patch in her career and marriage. Matsumoto also stars alongside Kiyohiko Shibukawa in A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic, a deep, though at times comical film by Kenji Katagiri that was also shown at the festival and is slated for release next year.

Director: Momoko Fukuda
Cast: Honoka Matsumoto, Itsuji Itao, Kenta Hamano
Expected Release Date: September 15, 2019

Erica 38

Premiering in Okinawa, Erica 38 was the last film legendary actress Kiki Kirin appeared in before she passed away last September. Written and directed by Yuichi Hibi, it tells the story of a 60-year-old con woman named Satoko Watabe played by Miyoko Asada. She flees to Thailand where she passes herself off as Erica, a 38-year-old who picks up a guy in his 20s, before returning to Japan where she intends to trick an elderly man into giving her his large house. Kirin, who played her mother in the film, was one of Japan’s most well-known and loved actresses. She won several Japan Academy awards, including an Outstanding Supporting Actress gong for her role in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s masterpiece Shoplifters.

Director: Yuichi Hibi
Cast: Miyoko Asada, Kiki Kirin
Expected Release Date: June 7, 2019

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