Third edition of festival will run March 18-27.

The Okinawa International Movie Festival (OIMF) has announced that it will go ahead in the face of the earthquake and tsunami that struck eastern Japan on March 11.

The event’s third edition, under its established theme of “Laugh & Peace,” will run from March 18-27 on Okinawa Island in the cities of Ginowan and capital Naha as planned. Fund-raising for disaster relief will become a pillar of the festival.

The Contents Bazaar portion of OIMF, geared toward facilitating TV co-productions between Japan and overseas partners, has been cancelled due to flight restrictions from the US. CAA and content creator client Notional were scheduled to attend. 

Okinawa Island, the prefecture’s largest, is over 1700km away from where Friday’s earthquake hit. The current death toll stands at 3,676, with 7,845 people unaccounted for.

Hiroshi Osaki, CEO of OIMF sponsor Yoshimoto Kogyo, issued a statement today in anticipation of criticism over holding the event so soon after Japan’s largest-ever natural disaster.

“Some may say that laughter is not appropriate, or that we are thoughtless, but it is our earnest desire to bring people hope at a time such as this. Our hearts are filled with a burning desire to help [people in the affected areas] in any way we can.”

Established in 1912 in Osaka, Yoshimoto Kogyo is one of the territory’s leading entertainment conglomerates, managing talent and producing entertainment programming for TV, radio and theater.

In its 100-year history the company has staged aid-related activities in the wake of the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 and WWII.

Osaki expressed shame over the company’s cancellation of all official events following the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake in Kobe, also motivating the decision to maintain OIMF’s schedule.

“Laughter communicates a shared sense that we are all ‘connected’ to each other, and that the other person is ‘there for us’. We believe it represents an exchange of the ‘will to live’.”