AS Malaysia pushes towards the launch of its first ever international film festival early next year, one former Portuguese colony is ready to roll out the red carpet. The autonomous territory of Macao, China, has put together its own inaugural film festival.
Measuring a mere 30.5 km2, Macao is the most densely-populated region in the world. But rather interestingly, its tourism and gambling industries has also made it one of the wealthiest — the World Bank lists Macao as second-highest in terms of purchasing power parity.
Macao operates pretty much independently, with China accountable only for its military and foreign affairs, at least until 2049. There’s a lot we can tell you about Macao and why it’s brilliant, but best check it out for yourself.
Given the region’s fascinating characteristics, there are high expectations for the 1st International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM). Set to bring Asian and international cinema together in a fairly comprehensive program, the festival will take place from 8 – 13 December 2016.
IFFAM’s inaugural edition will see several exciting sections through which more than forty films will be showcased. Its competition segment will pit 11 releases from the likes of Emmanuel Bercot, Shanker Raman and Ben Wheatley against one another for the festival’s top honours.
The 11 competition films have been confirmed to be Polina (Russia), 150 Milligrams (France), Elon Doesn’t Believe in Death (Brazil), Free Fire (UK), Gurgaon (India), Hide and Seek (China), Queen of Spades (Russia and Italy), Saint George (Portugal and France), Sisterhood (Macao), Survival Family (Japan), The Winter (Argentina and France), and Trespass Against Us (UK).
There will be 3 out-of-competition galas. Japanese film The Mole Song ‐ Hong Kong Capriccio will world premiere, Korea’s Pandora will have its international premiere, while a restored version of Hong Kong’s well-received 1986 drama Immortal Story will also screen for the very first time at the festival.
Elsewhere, IFFAM’s Hidden Dragons section will showcase 9 films which “represent the latest trends in contemporary Asian genre cinema”, Crossfire will see 12 films handpicked by East Asian film directors), and the Best of Fest Panorama will put forward 9 films currently making a splash on the festival circuit alongside 2 special presentation films.
And its good news for filmmakers who look forward to support from initiatives like SAFF Project Market and Taipei Golden Horse: IFFAM’s Crouching Tigers Project Lab has room for twelve projects seeking opportunities in co-production and financing.
After the surprise departure of Marco Muller from his role as IFFAM’s Festival Director, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes will be taking his place. She currently also serves as President of the Organising Committee as well as Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office. She will be aided by the Organising Committee’s Executive Vice President Alvin Chau, and IFFAM’s Head of Festival Management Lorna Tee.
Of note, Malaysian-born Lorna is a film producer who has racked up a strong international presence through her work on the festival circuit. She is Festival Director of the biggest pan Asian film festival in Netherlands, Cinemasia Film Festival, and she has also been an advisory board member of Cinemart and Busan’s Asian Film Market. She also played pivotal roles in James Lee’s The Beautiful Washing Machine and Ho Yuhang’s highly-anticipated Mrs K among many other local projects.
IFFAM’s Competition Jury meanwhile will be led by Indian film director Shekhar Kapur, known for Mr. India, Bandit Queen and Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Completing the panel are Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari, multi-disciplinary Korean film talent Jung Woo Sung, prolific Japanese actress Makiko Watanabe, and Hongkongese filmmaker Stanley Kwan.
For its inaugural edition, IFFAM has also selected Taiwanese actress Gwen Lun Mei as its Actress in Focus.
Check out IFFAM’s official page for more information on the festival and its programming!