Japan’s Yubari fest back on track

Shiota makes moves to unspool films again

Japan’s Yubari Fantastic Film Festival, a favorite on the international fantastic fest circuit for its innovative programming, is back in business after a near-death experience.

In July, the cash-strapped Yubari city government withdrew its coin and fest director Tokitoshi Shiota was forced to cancel the February edition.

Since then, he has reconstituted the fest org as a nongovernmental organization and rounded up enough coin from businesses and other supporters to put on a limited edition of Yubari in June.

“We haven’t decided the program yet, but we’ll screen 20-30 films,” said Shiota, who is hoping to lure fervent fest supporter Quentin Tarantino as a guest.

Launched in 1990 in the ski resort town of Yubari in northern Japan, event is known for its mix of cult and popular films, from “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” its opening pic in 2006, to  works by tyro filmmakers in its young fantastic competition section.

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