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"Hankyu Train" wins both the Golden SHISA Award and the Uminchu Prize!

The 3rd Okinawa International Movie Festival – a 10-day event held between March 18 (Fri) and 27 (Sun) – finally came to an end and celebrated its closing ceremony at the Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan City. Various awards were announced during the ceremony presented by emcees Koji Imada, Mai Sato and Rio Kinatsu.

Firstly, Okinawa Prefectural Governor Hirokazu Nakaima made his greeting; “I am grateful that this film festival took place this year. I sincerely hope that it will be held again next year here in Okinawa.” Next followed a thank-you speech by Ginowan City Mayor Takeshi Asato who also served as Executive Vice Chairman of the Okinawa International Movie Festival; “Thank you everyone who has contributed to the Okinawa International Movie Festival. I firmly believe that your thoughts will reach the victims of the huge earthquake and tsunami. Thank you so much.”

After that, awards were announced. TBS’s variety TV program Arabikidan-inspired “BALLOON MAN the CHALLENGE” was awarded Grand Prix in the short film competition “World Wide Laugh.” Mr. Yusaku Nakazawa of Dwango Ltd. presented the trophy in the shape of a shisa lion.

Ms. Masako Suzuki from Okinawa was awarded Grand Prix in the “JIMOT CM COMPETITION.” The competition’s Executive Committee member Mr. Keiichi Yoshizaki presented the shisa.

The Laugh Category Uminchu Prize Grand Prix was presented by Ms. Ikue Nakasone representing the General Jury. Grand Prix was awarded to the Thai film “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Ms. Nakasone commented on this film which depicted first-love; “The film made me really happy. I hope this feeling of happiness reach the people in the disaster-stricken areas as well as the people around the world.” Director Putthiphong Promsaka na Sakulnakorn and Wasin Pokpong were unable to come to Japan due to the earthquake disaster, but a message from the director was read out; “I am very happy to have won the Uminchu Prize. I am also honored to donate the award money to all those who suffer from the disaster. I hope to see you all again in this movie festival.” There was a big round of applause from the audience.

The Peace Category Uminchu Prize Grand Prix was presented by Mr. Kazufumi Uchiyama representing the General Jury. He introduced the film by saying, “This film is about a story that unfolds in an ordinary life. Through this film, I was able to share the feeling of new encounters and connection with people and felt happy afterwards.” Grand Prix was awarded to “Hankyu Train.” Chief Producer Keiichi Shigematsu got up on stage to receive the trophy. Mr. Shigematsu thanked by saying, “I am happy just to be able to participate in this film festival – I am even happier to have been awarded. Through this film, I hope to convey smile and courage – something that Japan desperately need right now.”

Finally, Festival Jury President and Chairman of Pusan International Film Festival Lee Young-kwan presented the Jury Special Prize Golden SHISA Award. Once again, “Hankyu Train” was selected. The film ended up winning both the Peace Category Uminchu Prize Grand Prix and the Golden SHISA Award.

Mr. Shigematsu who got up on stage once again remarked, “Shisas are supposed to be placed in pairs, so I’m ever so grateful. I will keep doing my best to inspire people around the world. Thank you so much.” His bubbling speech was greeted by a roar of applause.

After the award ceremony, Mr. Lee Yong-kwan gave a summarizing speech by saying, “I spent this week in Okinawa and enjoyed every minute of my time. Upon returning to Korea, I will give out this T-shirt to spread the courage I saw here. The Grand Prix was selected by unanimous vote. The film was wonderful and the motifs used were excellent. The beautiful sceneries seen from the train is just like any other, but I liked the fact that they were highlighted. I was touched by the thoughts of the people of Okinawa.”

Mr. Lee Yong-kwan then introduced two impressive films which most suited the Laugh & Peace theme of the festival. Selected as Special Mention pieces were “Miss Kurosawa Film II” and “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Okinawa International Movie Festival Jury Wang Rugang presented the trophy. Kazuko Kurosawa of the comedienne trio Morisanchu got up on stage and thanked, “Xie xie. This is such a great surprise. Thank you so much!” followed by a big hug with Mr. Wang.

Finally, Okinawa International Movie Festival Executive Committee Chairman and President of Yoshimoto Kogyo Hiroshi Osaki made a closing remark; “Thank you for taking part in this event. I sincerely wish that the winds carry our thoughts and prayers all the way north to the people who were struck by the disaster. I hope that this human bond and the bond between human and nature sustain. May our love reach the world!” He was greeted with a great round of applause and a standing ovation. The volunteers all got up on stage and together with everyone in the hall, they shouted “Menso-re Okinawa” in unity and the ceremony closed its curtains.

Chief Producer Keiichi Shigematsu of “Hankyu Train” which won both the Featured Program Peace Category Grand Prix and the Golden SHISA Award held a press conference after the closing ceremony. Mr. Shigematsu said, “I am grateful for just being able to participate. To receive an award is such an honor.” He said that the starring actress Miki Nakatani was enthusiastic about participating in this film festival, and that Ms. Nakatani and Ms. Kaho Minami who walked down the Red Carpet apparently had said, “The smiles of the people of Okinawa had encouraged us. It is now our turn to pass on their smiles.” Based on the story “Hankyu Densha” by Hiroshi Arikawa, the themes of the film were “human connection” and “to live positively”. Mr. Shigematsu recalled the making of the film by saying “While many films use CGs and 3Ds, I wanted to make a film about a small miracle.” About winning the awards, he commented, “I think the juries were able relate to the feeling of nurturing and spreading the little, humble happiness we find around us.” Mr. Shigematsu sent his message of encouragement to the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami by saying, “Japan is now united as one to bring smiles on the faces of all those who suffered the disaster. I hope people can smile through this film, and that it inspires everybody in Japan to become strong.”

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