Yubari to take flight with Miike's 'Crows'

Festival features Japan bows of 'Slumdog,' 'Frost/Nixon'

TOKYO -- The Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival kicks off Thursday in Hokkaido with the premiere of Takashi Miike's "Crows Zero 2," and continues with the bow of Oscar-winning director Yojiro Takita's ("Departures") latest offering, "Sampei the Fisherman."

The festival, held in a remote former mining town, once again has attracted a strong lineup that includes the Japanese premieres of "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Frost/Nixon."

This year will be the third edition of the reborn festival since the town went bankrupt in 2006 after trying to revive its fortunes with huge public spending projects.

The last coal mine closed in 1990, the first year of the festival that brought director Quentin Tarantino to Japan for the first time -- to show "Reservoir Dogs" in 1993. The schoolgirl assassin Go Go Yubari from Tarantino's "Kill Bill" was a nod to the festival from the director, who was a fan of the eclectic contents of the early editions, which focused on fantasy and horror.

Satellite broadcaster SKY Perfect JSAT once again will offer funding to future projects by the Grand Prix winners of the "Off Theater Competition" for up-and-coming directors. The movies, along with other festival entrants, will be broadcast on two of its channels.

The festival runs through Monday, closing with "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa."
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