Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Okinawa, the new cinema hub in Asia?"

From Okinawa for "RTL Monde" anchored by Daniel Férin. "Okinawa menacée de bombardement par les Nord Coréens, Pyongyang a juré de bombarder les pays asiatiques voisins alliés des Etats-Unis dont ces îles d'Okinawa et son armada militaire américaine au Japon. Le "Peuple des mers" d'Okinawa demande depuis 1972 aux américains de bien vouloir faire leurs valises, le peuple des mers s'organise…" Reportage. (A la 28eme minute)

Okinawa, the heritage of the Ryukyu Kingdom (琉球王国). An oceanic pearl in the East. An archipelago located in the much coveted China seas, where her culture and music are resplendent, it is also a strategical crossroad for Japan and American military forces deployed there. Japanese treasure their islands, treasures of beauty, dynamic but also reminder of a beneficial "slow-life".

Not sure that North Korea may offer such a peaceful environment these days, while the old marshals from Pyongyang say they'll target U.S. military bases of Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii. Even-though Korean War old soldiers are to become an extinct species while the latest heir of the Kim's dynasty appears as the latest puppet of the regime sycophants.

Okinawans wish more tourists and less uniforms. I saw several aspects during my report there. In this jewel set in the middle of Asia, I also attended the 5th Film festival presided by director Joel Schumacher.

International creations and a great offer of Asian directed movies, workshops, actors school, several selections for new creators, all of this appears in Ginowan. Ginowan also is the place where Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is located, lots of debate about moving them to Henoko, Okinawa. I wish a movie to come about this Henoko Marine Corps headache.

The festival is an artistic challenge, it is of prime interest for Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. Ltd the major Japanese entertainment conglomerate who co-organises the festival (吉本興業株式会社) led by the very nice CEO Hiroshi Osaki  (picture) while the whole military file remains a serious "casse-tête" (brain-teaser) for Governor Nakaima too.

My informations are that the shift to Henoko is on track, Ginowan (Futenma base location) will therefore be ready for major architectural and construction redesign, and real estate projects acquisition. Surprise is that there is space for Art too, especially the 7th Art: cinema. Entertainment, comedians are now to become part of the picture of the local economy of Okinawa, sources say. And the giant entertainment of the genre is now involving huge investment helped by the local tycoons.

During my days in the "Umi no Kuni", I made lots of new encounters, met talents, creators (pictures), directors from all around the globe and especially from Asia. Loved Naha Sakurazaka theatre too where part of the festival is held, 5 minutes walk from the well named "Kokusai Dori" the "International Boulevard." Besides, Sakurazaka theatre appeared to me as the Asian reminder in atmosphere ( 空気 "kuuki") of the meridional "Cinema Paradiso" directed by Giuseppe Tornatore.
All right you think it is a bit stretched... fine.

One difference nevertheless: Military jet-fighters reactors flying noisily above the crowds watching on the huge beach stage and screen their favourite Manzai, a stand-up comedy by 2 performers with a straight man (tsukkomi) and a funny man (boke).

In the Festival competition, I saw and interviewed quite a lot of Asian comedians, singers, entertainers on stage. Most extraordinary were "The Happy Life of Debbie" by Taiwanese director Tien Yu FU with splendid young actress Jade Chou. The other big surprise came from movie "Jellyfish" directed by Shusuke Kaneko with Miho Otani, Rumi Hanai and Ryosuke Kawamura. (Japanese teenagers love stories)

I eventually walked on stage later on during a celebrating party held at the Laguna where I accidentally interpreted the main role I was not prepared to play. But I faithfully respected the 2 words of the festival "Laugh" and Peace". Crowds laughed, it was good to see all of them happy. Maybe this is the best perception of the difficult genre accomplished by these comedians during their career.

So, urban space and spectacular coastlines of Okinawa are to move on in this 21st century, and Naha Ginowan are to be the artists' hub in Japan, in Asia? TIFF has to watch out. Combat and competition are natural "dna" in Asia. I would quite like to see what is to come ahead on this dazzling hibiscus covered islands.

History has to be remembered and as Yoshimoto President Osaki-san told me in a 50 minutes interview for RTL (picture) "It is time to give back to Okinawans what they gave, their life included, to the country and to give them happiness, laughters and peace, thanks to entertainment" I liked it!