Rolling Out the Red Carpet
The International Film Festival and Awards ‧ Macao will be held from December 8-14
In the past two years, yet another exciting major event has been added to Macau’s cultural calendar - The International Film Festival and Awards ‧ Macao (IFFAM) which will be held from December 8-14, this year in its third edition.
Presenting a wide variety of amazing cinematic creations, IFFAM has already begun forging its place on the regional film festival circuit. IFFAM’s Artistic Director for the second consecutive year, Mike Goodridge said at a recent conference announcing the details of the Festival: “I am very pleased with the IFFAM programme this year. The whole programming team has worked tirelessly to find the right films for our unique audience in Macau, and we are confident that we can build on the enthusiastic audiences we attracted last year.
“We feel that we have mixed a heady cocktail of bold brand new cinema, the best of the year’s festival titles, gorgeous classics and big ticket crowdpleasers, not to mention 12 stunning films in our international competition. I can’t wait for our audiences and juries to see the films,” he announced.
Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director and President of IFFAM Organizing Committee added: “We have poured exceedingly scrupulous efforts in the production of IFFAM as a young film festival. Opening our ears to opinions from different circles in the last two editions, we have flexibly adjusted our program and meticulously selected a range of films, with the unyielding dedication to forge IFFAM into a prestigious brand in the international film industry as well as an East and West cultural exchange platform across borders and generations.”
“This year, we feature ‘New Chinese Cinema’ as a new competition session to bring more Chinese-language films into the festival and enhance the lineup of outstanding films,” she added.
The IFFAM President also noted that MGTO wants to “create a platform to advance Macau’s creative industries: “I think the festival has this role to continue to help Macau’s creative industry,” she said, addingthat the festival is “a platform for exchanges between the West and our productions”.
IFFAM is also a good opportunity for Macau audiences to see quality films, Ms Senna Fernandes said, pointing out that in 2017, IFFAM showed the film The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro, Oscar winner for best film at the 90th Academy Awards in 2018.
“This year we also have several films that have possibilities, according to our artistic director, that can go far in the big festivals and in the big prizes. So for our part, we think it’s a good opportunity for the audience, Macau residents, to see high-level films,” she said.
Big announcements for this year’s Festival include the confirmation that Hong Kong star Aaron Kwok, winner of the Best Actor Golden Horse Awards and Hong Kong Film Awards, will be one of the Talent Ambassadors, along with Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winner Nicolas Cage, and rising Korean film star Lim Yoon A (aka Yoona).
Nicolas Cage will be the key speaker at this year’s IFFAM Masterclass, which aims at providing a platform for interactions between people who are interested in joining the film industry, industry insiders and audiences, in order to nurture new blood. Director John Woo and Pang Ho-cheung were last year’s speakers.
This year’s other Ambassadors include three world-renowned filmmakers: South Korean director Kim Yong-hwa; Indian director Shekhar Kapur; and Chinese director Xue Xiaolu.
IFFAM’s IN FOCUS section is a celebration of one or two specific outstanding talents in the film industry. The Organizing Committee announced that Chinese actress Yao Chen will be this year’s Actress IN FOCUS, with three of her films being presented in the official programme: Caught in the Web (2012, Chen Kaige), Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back (2017, Tsui Hark) and Lost, Found (2018, Lü Yue).
Yao will also attend the on-stage interview with veteran film producer Nansun Shi on December 10 to share her career journey and the prospects for Chinese-language film industry.
The Competition section of the Festival will see 12 superb movies by first and second time film-makers from all over the globe vying for prize money of US$60,000. Hong Kong producer, screenwriter and director Mabel Cheung, Australian producer and director Paul Currie, and Indian actress Tillotama Shome and Oscar-winning Bosnian director Danis Tanovic will join jury president Chen Kaige, a renowned mainland China director in deciding the winners of the International Competition programme of the festival.
Other sections on the programme include Flying Daggers, Best of Fest Panorama, New Chinese Cinema, Director’s Choice (Retrospective), Special Presentations and Industry Hub,
The Festival will kick off with the Opening Film Green Book (USA) at the Grand Auditorium of the Macao Cultural Centre.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Mike Goodridge, Artistic Director of the International Film Festival and Awards Macao (IFFAM), hopes the event will continue to attract more and more audiences
According to Mike Goodridge, the Artistic Director for the International Film Festival and Awards - Macau (IFFAM), “the recipe” for the selection of films to be shown this year, is to “bring the best films of the year we can, the newest and most recent.”
“Last year we had The Shape of Water and Call Me by Your Name, which both won Oscars, so I think if we can give Macau audiences a preview of the films that will win at the Oscars every year, that’s very good,” said the Briton who is running the festival for the second consecutive time this year.
This year’s IFFAM includes the New Chinese Cinema section, focusing on Chinese language films, a trend visible in other festivals held in China, such as the Pingyao International Film Festival. Mike Goodridge agrees that this is a trend he expects to continue.
“The Chinese-speaking world is a vibrant cultural space today,” he says, giving the film The Pluto Moment by Zhang Ming as an example, one of six chosen to join the new competition section dedicated to “exceptional films in Chinese language”.
Movies from the interior of China, Taiwan and Malaysia will all be screened as part of the new section.
Regarding the feature-length film produced in Macau, Empire Hotel by director Ivo M. Ferreira and co-produced between Portugal, Mainland China and Lebanon, to be screened this year at the festival, the Artistic Director describes it as a film by a “world-class director...absolutely stunning to see, capturing something unique about Macau. It makes us want to go walking through the streets of the city, it is simply amazing,” he notes.
For this the third edition of the festival, the Artistic Director says his aim is to continue to increase the public’s presence at the event.
“One of my biggest challenges here last year was to make sure people would come to the movies, and I think we had a good turnout, I’d say 75 percent capacity, which is incredible, way beyond my wildest expectations. But we want 100 percent attendance, we want to get to the point where people have to be turned away for lack of space,” he says.
For Goodridge, it’s all about “creating all that excitement around cinema, which is what a festival has to do to attract audiences, and to create a programme that offers something to everyone.”
Furthermore, he hopes to make the event “a magnet,” attracting people from Hong Kong, Zhuhai and around the region as well.
Mike Goodridge, considers Macau to be the “most cinematographic location in the world”, and he expresses some surprise that, unlike Hong Kong, which is only an hour away and has a solid and consolidated history in cinema, here in the territory the industry is still so underdeveloped.
“It perplexes me, but there are still people here who want to make films. I wish there was more infrastructure, but I know that the government is working on it.”
He emphasizes though, that ultimately it is about “telling good stories and finding good stories to tell. We know there are a lot of stories here. It’s just a matter of being authentically told by local filmmakers rather than someone coming in and filming in a certain way.”
As for the future sustainability of the festival, the programmer highlights the “youthfulness” of the event.
“We are very young. This is my second time as a director. I think any film festival takes 5 to 10 years to mature,” he says, noting that the Cannes Film Festival, established in 1946, is 72 years old, and Venice is 86 years old.
“Macau is brand new, so the question is, how long can we continue until people start taking us seriously? I think Macau is a perfect destination for a film festival, but we need to cement audiences and their positioning. It’s a matter of word of mouth, over the years, it’s about foreign guests talking to other foreign friends and recommending that they have to come to Macau. That takes years to build. It is a challenge, so I hope that the government will allow the necessary time for the event to solidify,” he affirms.
Two Macau projects have been selected for the IFFAM funding phase: Chao Koi Wang’s Wonderland and Tracy Choi’s Lost Paradise.
Two Macau projects have been selected to be part of the fundraising phase of the third edition of the International Film Festival and Awards Macau (IFFAM). The IFFAM Project Market (IPM) will take place between December 9 and 11, and is designed to give filmmakers space to showcase their projects to industry and investors.
This year, the platform has selected 14 feature film projects, seven of which are projects by female filmmakers. The two projects selected from Macau are Wonderland by Chao Koi Wang and Lost Paradise by Tracy Choi.
Sexual harassment is the theme of what will hopefully be Tracy Choi’s third feature, for which the filmmaker expects to raise between HK$5 million and HK$10 million from Project Market, as well as getting feedback from other filmmakers and industry experts on how to develop the project.
The director explains that the idea and synopsis of the film came from reading a book by a Taiwanese writer, even before the “MeToo” movement began, which addresses “a very realistic story” about harassment.
Tracy Choi says she wants to explore the internal dilemmas of the victims, who in these cases tend to develop a sense of guilt and feel “dirty” because of the judgment society places on them. The creator of several short films and the award-winning film Sisterhood is currently in the pre-production phase for her second feature on teenage pregnancy, with plans to start filming in Hong Kong in March or April 2019, while the third project is expected to begin in August, she says.
Meanwhile, Wonderland will be the first feature film by Chao Koi Wang, director of the short film Come, the Light, awarded the Best Short Film Award of the 9th edition of FIRST International Film Festival of Xining and the Bangalore International Short Film Festival.
The director says he hopes to get “between five and six million patacas” to produce the film. He describes the story as focusing around “the accidental death of a gambler, which causes a casino agent to lose all his fortune. From there, he begins to imagine what a wonderland is. This character is from Mainland China. In the past, Macau was his wonderland, but now he thinks Macau is no longer a good place and wants to find a new one, the true paradise,”Chao explains.
The IFFAM Project Market (IPM) takes place within the framework of the Festival’s, Industry Hub, which has invited over 200 Industry professionals from 21 countries and cities to participate or present in film forums.
This year’s slate of 14 feature-film projects includes South Korean director Song II-Kong’s romantic drama Love Song, up-and-coming British director Hope Dickson Leach’s family drama Klepto, as well as Director Yan Ting Yuen’s first non-documentary feature, the arthouse project Hong Kong Sister.
A great number of promising talent has been selected this year, which also includes He Shuming with Ajooma, Rachel Han Xu with Top Talent, and Leon Cheng presenting Game of Identity.