Veteran film festival director Marco Mueller has abruptly quit as festival director of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao. The festival is due to hold its first edition in the former Portuguese colony next month (Dec. 8-13.)
A statement from the festival confirmed Mueller’s resignation with immediate effect, but offered no explanation. Industry sources have recently pointed to artistic differences between selector and management. However, sources close to the festival said that the matter was with lawyers, and they would be unable to comment.
Organizers said that the show will go on. A full program of film selections is due to be announced Monday.
“Macau Films & Television Productions and Culture reassures the organizing committee that the secretariat will assume all responsibilities of the festival director and that this incident will not affect the organization of the festival as planned,” said the festival in its statement.
Mueller was previously artistic director at the prestigious European festivals in Locarno, Venice and Rome. Latterly he has parlayed his reputation and language skills in a succession of roles with festivals in Greater China. He was adviser and selector at the Beijing International Film Festival and then the Silk Road Festival, before joining the Macau event earlier this year.
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Like Hong Kong, Macau is a special administrative region of China with some degree of separate rule. It has become best known in recent years for the growth of its casino gambling industry. Macau’s casinos have overtaken Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenues, but in the last two years the sector has been hit by China’s ongoing anti-corruption purges.
The IFFAM is backed by the territory’s culture and tourism authorities in a bid to diversify away from pure gambling into wider cultural, entertainment and sports activities. The festival is expected to have sections including: a competition; an out-of-competition and gala section; Hidden Dragons, highlighting six overlooked Asian film titles; a Panorama section, gathering some of the year’s top selections from other festivals; an Crossfire, in which noted East Asian directors pick their favorite genre films from outside the region and from outside the U.S.
India’s Shekhar Kapur heads the jury for the international competition.
There will also be an industry section involving conferences and screenings.