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Local Content Front and Center at Okinawa International Movie Festival 2013


Liza Foreman

By Liza Foreman

Hollywood came to Okinawa on Sunday, with represenatatives from the Hollywood agency CAA presenting a seminar, and filmmaker Joel Schumacher in town to head up the jury of this year's Okinawa International Movie Festival.

A series of seminars took place throughout the day through the market arm of the festival, the Contents Bazaar.

A representatuve from CAA gave the local audience the low down on pitching for television and brought them up to date with changes in Hollywood, which includes a migration of top talent away from film and into cable television.

Experts from far and wide discussed the film business.

At the welcome reception on Sunday the represenative said: "We think there is a lot of business to do be done between the U.S. and Japan and we are really impressed with all of you."

CAA has an ongoing partnership with the organizers of the festival, Yoshimoto, a 100-year-old Japanese media company which manages hundreds of comedians and also works in television production.

On Sunday, Yoshimoto announced a new parternship with Content Land in Hong Kong to promote sales in Asia of Japanese video content.

The deal helps centralize Yoshimoto's point of contact for program sales through Content Land, the company said in a statement.

The agreement is expected to reduce the hurdles involved in distributing in Asia, including negotiating copyright and other issues.

One of the highlights of the day was a panel on Okinawan content. Yoshimoto is behind efforts to promote Okinawa as a content and entertainment hub in Japan.

A number of local production companies talked up new projects. This included a 3D horror movie, Kaminchu, a number of new features from Kukura Vision including Karakaara, which is a road trip set in Okinawa and a TV series called Halser Acre which is being remade in China.

The three-year-old Okinawan Content Fund is increasingly active in supporting local films.

Okinawa has around 1.4 million inhabitants, 6 million vissitors a year of which only a small proportion come from overseas. Producers are hoping to tap into toursism and other overseas markets to expand their production business.

Several producers noted that Okinawa is closer to Hong Kong and Taiwan, where they are looking for partnerships, than to Tokyo, where it is often difficult for them to advance their projects.

Last year, a call was made at the festival for the American military bases in Okinawa to be re-purposed as entertainment industry villages in a bid to transform Okinawa into an entertainment hub.