Launched in 2004 to promote digital cinema, the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival (July 13-21) in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, has become a showcase for emerging filmmakers. Among the Skip City alumni who have gone on to thriving careers are Cannes Palme d'Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan ("Winter Sleep"), Kazuya Shiraishi ("The Blood of Wolves"), Ryota Nakano ("Her Love Boils Bathwater") and Shinichiro Ueda ("One Cut of the Dead").

Ueda, who has had two films in the festival's shorts competition, is back with this year's opener, "Aesop's Game." A comedy he co-directed with Naoya Asanuma and Yuya Nakaizumi, it's packed with twists, all supplied by Ueda, who wrote the original script. If you liked "One Cut of the Dead," a zombie comedy with a brilliant film-within-a-film structure that earned a stupendous ¥3.2 billion, you'll want to check out this one as well.

One standout this year is "Travel Nostalgia" by Chinese filmmaker Qinyao Wu in the International competition.