Okinawa film festival promotes laughter and peace

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The third annual Okinawa International Movie Festival, in Naha City from March 18 to 27, will feature 12 films from around the world competing in the "Laugh" category and a further 13 titles vying for the top award in the "Peace" section.

The winners of the two categories will each receive a prize of Y2.5 million (€22,205), organizers said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, and then face off for the Uminchusho Grand Prix Award.

The festival was started in 2009 to promote the twin concepts of laughter and peace, with around 110,000 people attending the first four-day event. That figure rose to 380,000 people last year, when the program was extended to a nine-day run, but the festival's popularity has again seen it grow and more than 400,000 people are expected to travel to Japan's most southerly prefecture for the 2011 event.

As well as domestic entries, the festival has attracted entries from the United States, China, Taiwan, Ireland, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Sweden and Russia. A number of the films will be making their world premieres in Okinawa.

Love Police will be among the titles making their world premiere; the tale of three unemployed men seeking love is directed by Yoshihiro Sakata. Harvey Keitel stars in the Korean title The Last Godfather, directed by Shim Hyung-rae, and the movie adaptation of Tony Hawks' book Round Ireland With a Fridge - which has the memorable tag line "Some men are born silly, others have silliness thrust upon them" - will also be screened.

The event will also include, for the first time, the Local Origination Project to encourage budding filmmakers to create a short movie on the theme of "local love." The winning title is to be screened on broadcast television in Japan.

The festival also incorporates panel discussions with comedians and filmmakers as well as special screenings of comedy films from Japan and overseas, with some titles being screened on the beach in Naha.

Dates: March 18-27, 2011

Venues: Okinawa Convention Centre, Sakurazaka Theatre in Naha City.

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