With news that the 66th annual Eisaa Festival may actually take place this year (it was canceled last year due to the pandemic), the special movie “Eisaa Don Don” was made available on YouTube until August 31st. Be sure not to miss it!
Tweeted by actor/model Shogen, a 2019 film he stars in called “Okinawan Blue (Kokoro, Odoru)” — written and directed by Kishimoto Tsukasa (remember his name as he’s one to watch) — is available for streaming on Filmdoo.
Also streaming on Filmdoo is 2012’s “Karakara” a Canadian film written and directed by Claude Gagnon and one that I was able to watch at the Hawaii Film Festival. While not as Okinawan (lead actors are not Uchinanchu) as “Okinawan Blue”, at least the music is by one of my favorite musicians, Ara Yukito (Parsha Club).
You can also find other films (some of them are free!) from Okinawa that are (or aren’t yet) available on Filmdoo by creating a filter search on their website. Be sure to vote on the films you want to watch that aren’t yet available in your region!
We don’t get a lot of films from Okinawa so if you see on whether at a festival or on a streaming site, we must watch it! A film that’s currently available on Amazon Prime is The Man Who Changed Okinawa starring Garage Sale’s Gori who we recently featured on Karakui.
Here’s the synopsis via Geta Films:
This is based on a true story about a coach of a high school baseball team who’d like to change people’s mind in Okinawa through baseball. Hiroyoshi Sai is assigned as a coach to the baseball team at Ryukyu Fisheries high school. The baseball team members are welcome the arrival of the capable coach Sai, but he recruits skillful players for next freshmen from all over Okinawa.
His target is just to win the National High School Baseball Championship, called “Koshien” in up-coming couple of years. However, teachers and students around the school get suspicious about his way of coaching with an iron fist.
Nonetheless, his belief never shakes and his team grabs the right to participate in the championship with various difficulties.
Directed by Kishimoto Tsukasa, the film was a hit in Okinawa if going by ticket sales, and garnered enough attention to be English-subtitled and streamed outside of Japan. It’s also one of the few films from Okinawa with an Okinawan director and main actor. If you are able to watch the entire film (you can search for reviews of the film in English and in Japanese to see why it may be difficult to do so), and you have an understanding of Ryukyu, how did it make you feel? Personally, I feel that the beginning of the film as well as the first scene in the bar pitting Gori agains the other teachers sums up the reality of being Okinawan and their desire to show their strong will despite the human costs. The title of the film itself is interesting because it leaves out whether Coach Sai changed Okinawa for the better or for the worse and leaves it to the viewer to decide.
“Minami no Shima no Furimun” (also called “Furimun’s Paradise” or “Furimun in Okinawa“) is the 2009 directorial debut of comedian/actor Gori of the comedy duo Garage Sale. Gori, who also stars in the film as its main character Eisho (the furimun), also gets credit for writing the film as well. (A synopsis of the film can be found on AsianMediaWiki.)
The film trailer.
Rounding out the rest of the main cast:
Masaru (a father figure & friend of Eisho’s) played by Masao Teruya
Making appearances in the film are Rimi Natsukawa as the saataa andagi fortune-teller, ISSA (DA PUMP) as a bartender, KEN (formerly of DA PUMP) as a bar’s door person, Taeko Yoshida as a bar’s mama, and Hiroki Kawata (Gori’s partner in Garage Sale) as a referee.
Long a fan of HIFF (Hawaii International Film Festival), I’m happy to see a Spotlight on Okinawa for this year’s festival. Three films shot on location in Okinawa will be shown: “Gunjou (Cobalt Blue),” “Manatsu no Yo no Yume (A Midsummer’s Okinawan Dream)” and “Nada Sou Sou (Tears for You).”
While the three films featured in the Spotlight on Okinawa were filmed on location in Okinawa, the lead actors are not from Okinawa — though they’re represented in supporting roles (mainly Tomi Taira in “Manatsu no Yo no Yume” and “Nada Sou Sou,” and Mitsuru Tamaki in “Manatsu no Yo no Yume” and “Gunjou”).
The film I’m really looking forward to is “Manatsu no Yo no Yume.” The film was directed by Yuji Nakae — a name that should be familiar to Okinawa films fans — who gave us “Nabii no Koi” and “Hotel Hibiscus.”
You’ll find the trailers to the films after the break.
Billed as the first film (or in this case, collection of short films) with directors who are all from Okinawa, “Ryukyu Cowboy, Yoroshiku Gozaimasu.” looks interesting indeed. Although the film itself was released in 2007, it’s currently playing in select theaters around Okinawa and mainland Japan. The film is comprised of three parts, each with its own director, “See Me?,” “Happy [Star] Pizza,” and “Masaa Ojii no Kasa.” I was hoping to find a copy on DVD but as this looks like the indie of indie films, it may take awhile before it’s released on one. Be sure to check out their website.
Newlywed singer Rimi Natsukawa is ready to make her acting debut. She has been cast in ‘Minami no Shima no Furimun,’ a movie starring and directed by comedian Gori of Garage Sale.
The movie is Gori’s first full-length directorial effort. The story is a comedy set in Okinawa, where both he and Natsukawa are originally from. Natsukawa plays the part of a mysterious fortune teller.
Natsukawa is also singing the film’s theme, titled ‘Unju no Furusato.’ Gori wrote the lyrics, while Kiroro’s Chiharu Tamashiro (also an Okinawan) composed the music.
‘Minami no Shima no Furimun’ will have its first screening at the Okinawa International Movie Festival, organized by Yoshimoto Kogyo. The festival runs from March 19 to March 22.
Kenji Sakaguchi will be playing the lead in a police drama series titled ‘Honjitsu mo Hare. Ijou Nashi,’ set to air on TBS this winter. Sakaguchi stars as a cop assigned to a fictional remote island in the Okinawa prefecture, modeled after the real island of Hateruma.
Nao Matsushita appears as the heroine, the only primary school teacher on the island. Matsushita will also be singing an insert song for the show. Other cast members include Noriko Aoyama and Yoshimasa Kondo.
The drama will run on Sundays at 9:00pm, starting on January 18.
So, there doesn’t seem to be any actors who are actually from Okinawa in this drama so it’s similar to two others (in recent memory) “Ruri no Shima” and “Dr. Koto Shinryojo” which follow the same format.