Festival opens with red carpet procession as well as minute of silence for Japanese disaster.

Under grey skies and intermittent rain, the third edition of the Okinawa International Movie Festival (OIMF) held its red carpet procession and beachfront ceremony yesterday afternoon in Ginowan City. Sympathy and aid for the devastated Tohoku region of Japan figured heavily into the proceedings.

The red carpet, one of the longest in the film festival world at almost 400 meters, was walked by local celebrities including fest sponsor Yoshimoto Kogyo comedians Gori, Kazuko Kurosawa and Yuichi Kimura, idol dance group Rhythmic and actor-director Hiroshi Shinagawa. UK comedian Tony Hawks of Round Ireland With A Fridge fame walked the carpet with his appliance in tow.

Along the procession attendees spoke to gathered media, lending words of support for earthquake and tsunami victims.

On the beachront stage, Yoshimoto Kogyo president and OIMF director Hiroshi Osaki, Yoshimoto chairman Isao Yoshino, Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima and Ginowan City mayor Takeshi Asato all made speeches followed by a minute of silence.

In the days since the March 11 disaster, OIMF has established various aid initiatives including venue donation tables manned by popular comics, red carpet photo sales, and a celebrity-led charity auction. Also reflecting the effort, the word “Yell” was incorporated into the OIMF logo indicating a shout-out or cheer to people in Tohoku.

Divided into “laugh” and “peace” categories, OIMF competition world premieres include Omlette Rice, Miss Kurosawa Film II, The Pot Of Good Fortune, and Love Police.

Shim Hyung-rae’s Korean comedy The Last Godfather, starring Harvey Keitel and Thai school romance Crazy Little Thing Called Love, are among international premieres. Chinese earthquake drama Aftershock was pulled from the lineup.

The international jury is headed by Busan International Film Festival director Lee Yong-Kwan, joined by Chinese comedy actor Wang Rugang, Taiwanese writer-director Chu Yu-Ning, and artist Kiyota Oshiro. Winners will be announced at the closing ceremony on March 27.

On the industry front, OIMF’s Contents Bazaar co-production event was cancelled due to CAA representatives being unable to attend. However, the Contents Land market opens today (March 23) with predominantly local film and TV producers promoting the latest Japanese contents.

Also being conducted as an OIMF-associated event is the Hollywood-style Pitch Training session (March 25-26). Sponsored by UniJapan and chaired by Cloud Atlas and The Dark Knight producer Philip Lee, the event aims to train Japanese film producers in pitching movie projects overseas.