The first edition of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao wrapped up with a snappy and well-drilled prize ceremony. The competition section was won by Argentinian film “The Winter” (aka “El Ivierno”) directed by Emiliano Torres.
The best director award went to Marco Martins for “Saint George” about an unemployed boxer. “Saint George” also claimed the best actor prize for Nuno Lopes.
The ceremony was held at the casino town’s cultural center Tuesday night. Notable film folk in attendance included Jon Chu, Gianni Nunnuri, Chin Han, John Penotti, Ludi Lin, the BFI’s Sandra Hebron and Ann Hui. Career achievement awards were accepted in person by top Chinese director Feng Xiaogang and producer-financier Yu Dong of Bona Film Group.
The competition section jury also included Shekhar Kapur, Giovanna Fulvi and Japanese actress Makiko Watanabe.
The festival was hatched with the idea of adding to the former Portuguese colony’s cultural activities and diversifying its appeal as a tourist destination.
While the sudden resignation of festival director Marco Mueller in October shook the organizers, the festival overcame that and delivered both a strong film lineup – jury president Kapur said “when you have a jury where everyone has a personal favorite that they champion you know you have a strong selection” – and an impressive industry section. It included a project market, conferences and a screening series.
British film, “Trespass Against Us” won both the jury prize and the prize for Lyndsey Marshal as best actress. The best screenplay award went to Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley for another British film “Free Fire.” The best technical contribution prize went to the sound design in tough Brazilian drama “Elon Doesn’t Believe in Death.”
One of the biggest cheers of the night was for the selection of Jennifer Yu as best newcomer for her performance in Macau director Tracy Choi’s “Sisterhood.” “The young actress delivered a difficult part, which is both dramatic and humorous at the same level, and kept us emotionally engaged in the story. For her very first feature film, this young actress showed incredible promise,” the jury said. “Sisterhood” also earned the audience prize.
Variety presented a prize for Asian blockbuster film of the year to Korean zombie film “Train to Busan.”
Earlier in the week, winners were announced in the industry hub’s Crouching Tigers Project Lab.
The three sponsors Tomas Jegeus from Fox International Production, John Penotti from Ivanhoe Pictures and Jane Wan from Huace Pictures gave the rules a slight twist and instead of presenting three awards gave out four awards, each worth $10,000.
The 2016 Crouching Tigers Project Lab winners:
“River Town,” dir and prod. Lu Chuan, prod. Jamie Gordon (U.S. / China);
“Inspector Lou,” dir: Djo Munga (U.K. / Belgium / Democratic Republic of the Congo);
“Pintakasi,” dir: Erik Matti, prod: Ronald “Dondon” Monteverde (Philippines); and
“270 San Ma Lo Macao,” co-dirs. and co-prods. Joao Pedro Rodrigues and Joao Rui Guerra da Mata (Portugal)
“We’re extremely proud and happy with the 3 days of Crouching Tigers Project Lab pitching and meetings as many projects found really good potential investors, sales agents and partners for their film projects,” said Lorna Tee, head of festival management.