Yu Irie’s 79-minute comedy drama SR: Saitama’s Rapper was awarded the grand prix at the19th editionof Japan’s Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival (Feb 26-Mar 2), which wrappedtonight.

The film playedin the ten-title Off Theatre Competition, which spotlights young independent filmmakers. The story follows a group of aspiring rap artists in the suburbs of Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture, Saitama.

Irie got his start at Yubari, where previous short films Obsessions and Seven Drives screened in competition in 2003 and 2004.

The jury prize was awarded to Korean filmmaker Weean Choi’s debut feature Today And The Other Days. The Hokkaido prefectural governor’s prize went to Hajime Ohata’s short film A Big Gun.

The jury was headed by director Takahashi Banmei, joined by director Norio Tsuruta, actress Makiko Watanabe, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) programmer Kwon Yong-min and Hong Kong photographer Wing Shya.

As reported on Screendaily in January, Yubari’s main lineup included Japan premieres of opening film Crows Zero 2, Slumdog Millionaire, Korean thrillerThe Chaser, Frost/Nixon, Chandni Chowk To China and closing film Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

Slumdog Millionaire’s screening was switched to a bigger venue after its multiple Oscar wins, where it sold out. Danny Boyle sent a video message greeting the audience, imploring them not to give any spoilers away and hoping for good word of mouth. Distributor Gaga Communications opens Slumdog Millionaire on April 18.

Final day screenings included Korea’s Dachimawa Lee, screened in cooperation with PiFan.

According to YIFFF organisers, admissions surpassed 10,000 patrons over the five-day event.