Event Report2016.04.21Warm Hearts of Okinawa Welcome Guests at Opening Ceremony of OIMF8

The 8th Okinawa International Movie Festival officially began at 5:30pm on Thursday April 21, with an Opening Ceremony event in Naminoue Umisora Park in front a giant outdoor cinema screen.

Hosted by Ayako Kisa and Koji Imada, the ceremony began with Yoshimoto President Hiroshi Osaki, accompanied by comedians Kiyoshi Nishikawa and Tamako Miyagawa in colorful Okinawa dress, giving opening speeches.

“We hope for the further great success of the All the Islands Okinawa festival,” said Nishikawa, who encapsulated the spirit of fun of the event by then attempting a headstand in front of the assembled audience of celebrities and officials.

Deputy Governor of Okinawa, Mitsuo Ageda was second to take to the stage, wishing “Thank you to the hard work of all the staff from Okinawa, Japan and around the world.”

“We are happy to welcome you,” he added. “We started in 2009. With the title ‘All the Islands Okinawa,’ we are creating local cheering squads. Okinawa is not only about films, but nature and traditional art. We can to send out the charm of Okinawa and I hope the festival will get even bigger and become a representative famous event to showcase Okinawa.”

Naha City Major Mikiko Shiroma then told the audience; “Finally the festival starts, and this year I'm happy to have the festival here and also with the month moved to April. April is hot, but the wind is nice, so the season is perfect for festivals. There are many events in Tenbesu Naha and Kokusai Dori so we look forward to seeing you and to cheer on the participants. Altogether with our tourists too, let's cheer on this event!”

Okinawa boasts not one, but three “Miss Okinawas,” and dressed in beautiful white dresses, the trio took to the stage with Okinawa Ambassador Hanagasa Mahae-chan.

“People can enjoy the warm and mild climate,” said Anna Okuhama (Miss Okinawa Sky Blue), who encouraged the audience to enjoy some of the festival’s short movies.

“The festival motto is ‘Laugh and Peace’” said Kumiko Morita (Miss Okinawa Cobalt Blue), “and I hope the festival will create lots of laugh and peace.”

“We are glad to welcome many visitors from all over the world, with hospitality and warm hearts,” added Yuka Shinzato (Miss Okinawa Clean Green Gracious), before Hanagasa Mahae-chan attempted to speak at the microphone, only to run away in comedic stagefright.

10 representatives of Okinawan towns and regions, each dressed in local traditional outfits then joined the stage to share their support from the various communities of the island prefecture, emphasizing the wide ranging impact of OIMF. The ceremony concluded with a presentation of the movies to be screened in the coming days.