Last week it was announced that top Hollywood director Joel Schumacher will be acting as president of the Jury at the 2013 Okinawa International Film Festival, which celebrates its 5th birthday this year.

This is quite a coup for the festival, now in its fifth year, as Schumacher has been a world famous filmmaker ever since he first broke onto the scene back in the 1980s. His first successes where with 1985’s St. Elmo’s Fire and 1987’s The Lost Boys, two films that really came to define their era and leave a mark on a generation. The Lost Boys in particular has enjoyed a long running cult appeal and is known for kick-starting the career of Kiefer Sutherland.

The 90s saw the director move into bigger budget fare including adaptations of two John Grisham novels, The Client and A Time To Kill, and a couple of entries into the pre-Nolan Batman franchise, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.

Since the turn of the century the director has remained prolific, working on about a film as year, as well as picking up credits in producing and writing. His films range from darker, lower budget offerings such as the Nicholas Cage starring 8mm and the Vietnam war drama Tigerland, which introduced us to a young Colin Farrell, to the smash hit big screen version of the musical, The Phantom of the Opera. Along the way the director has worked with some of the biggest stars of modern times including Clint Eastwood, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee-Jones, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett.

5th Okinawa International Film Festival

Joining Schumacher on the competition jury is fellow director, writer and producer Claude Dagnon, a Canadian whose films are often based in Japan or are centred around a Japanese protagonist; Kaori Momoi, a prolific actress and star of many Japanese and western productions, including Memoirs of a Geisha and Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha as well as last years hit manga adaptation Helter Skelter; and finally larger than life musician and entetainer Demon Kakka.

The competition section of the festival comes under the banner “Laugh and Peace”, The ‘Laugh’ section being a showcase of the latest comedy films from around the world, and the ‘Peace’ section representing dramas and documentaries.

As well as awards for the best film in each of the two categories, the best film at the festival will receive the prestigious Golden Shisa Award.

The festival will kick off on March 23rd and run until the 30th. We’ll bring you more news nearer the time but do check the Okinawa International Film Festival’s website.

Text by Christopher O’Keeffe