Macau Festival Unveils Inaugural Selection

Patrick Frater

The International Film Festival & Awards Macao is set to serve up a quality line up of awards contenders, favorites from the festival circuit, and upcoming commercial releases. The inaugural edition of the festival runs Dec. 8-13.

Even before it got under way, the festival was this weekend shaken by the sudden resignation of festival director Marco Mueller. Festival president Helena de Senna Fernandes Mondau announced that she will step in as acting festival director.

The selection nevertheless bears the Mueller imprint. It will open with the Asian premiere of Juliette Binoche-starring French-Russian fantasy adventure “Polina.”

Other gala events are built around the world premiere of Miike Takashi’s “The Mole Song – Hong Kong Cappriccio,” Korean nuclear disaster thriller “Pandora” to which Netflix recently acquired global rights outside Korea, and the first time screening of a restored version of the Macau-set “Immortal Story,” directed by Yonfan some 30 years ago.

The 11-title competition section includes: Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson-starring “Trespass Against Us” directed by the U.K.’s Adam Smith; the world premiere of “Gurgaon” by India’s Shanker Raman; “Elon Doesn’t Believe in Death,” by Brazil’s Ricardo Alves Jr.; Ben Wheatley’s “Free Fire,” starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Sharlto Copley; Liu Jie’s “Hide and Seek,” which is currently on release in China; “150 Milligrams” (aka “La Fille de Brest”) directed by France’s Emmanuelle Bercot; veteran Russian director Pavel Lungin’s “Queen of Spades;” “Saint George,” by Mortugal’s Marco Martins; “The Winter” by Argentina’s Emiliano Torres; “Sisterhood,” by Macau director Tracy Choi; and “Survival Family,” by Japan’s Yaguchi Shinobu.

With the festival targeted in significant measure at mainland Chinese media, the panorama section contains nine films that have made impact on the this year’s international festival scene, but which have yet to be screened in China. Titles include: Cannes contender “Toni Erdman” by director Maren Ade; Gael Garcia Bernal-starring “Neruda,” by Chile’s Pablo Larrain; Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper” starring Kristen Stewart; Chinese and Spanish-language “The Future Perfect,” by Nele Wohlatz; Pablo Larrain’s “Jackie” with Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard; “Goodbye Berlin,” by Germany’s Fatih Aakin; Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” with Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams; “Lady Macbeth,” by the U.K.’s William Oldroyd; and “Indignation,” by producer director James Schamus.

The festival also unveiled Hidden Dragons, its selection of less-travelled Asian contemporary films, Crossfire in which established Asian directors pick genre titles that may have influences their film making career, and a three film selection of movies featuring Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun-mei.

Joining India’s Shekhar Kapur as jury president, fellow jurors Athina Rachel Tsangari, Jung Woo Sung, Makiko Watanabe and Stanley Kwan will decide the prizes in the competition section. The award presentation ceremony will be held on the festival’s closing night (Dec. 13). And winners will receive a trophy conceived by production designer Dante Ferretti.

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