Okuda wins Yubari Fantastic fest

Former mining town welcomes Yamada; To heads jury

TOKYO -- The Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival finishes up in snowy Hokkaido Monday, after its “Off Theater” competition was won by 23-year-old director Yosuke Okuda on Sunday.

Okuda’s “Seishun Hakaba - Ashita to Ishoni Aruku no da” won the 2 million yen ($22,000) main prize from the jury headed by Hong Kong helmer Johnnie To.

The festival, now run by the citizens of the formerly bankrupt mining town, continues to punch above its weight in attracting major titles and guests.

Opening on February 25 with Shun Oguri’s directorial debut “Surely Someday,” it also welcomed veteran director Yoji Yamada, just back from Berlin, to present a remastered digital edition of his 1977 “The Yellow Handkerchief.”

The 2008 version directed by Udayan Prasad also made its Japan bow during the fest.