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IFFAM: Festival Jurors Put Focus on Asian Experience

Asia was understandably the focus of the competition jury at the debut of the 2nd International Film Festival and Awards Macao (IFFAM). Addressing a press conference chaired by IFFAM artistic director Mike Goodridge, jury president, French filmmaker Laurent Cantet said that he walked for a few hours once he reached Macau, trying unsuccessfully to get lost.

“I like to film away from my country,” said Cantet, winner of the 2008 Palme d’Or for “The Class.” “The distance it gives to your point of view is interesting.” Cantet has filmed in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Corsica, besides his native France.

Singaporean filmmaker, Royston Tan (“15: The Movie,” “881”) suggested that the establishment of a residency program in Macau would help filmmakers from around the world to get to know the place and the culture.

British author Lawrence Osborne, whose 2014 novel “The Ballad of a Small Player” is set in the casinos of Macau, is fascinated by the standard of writing in Korean cinema and the fact that audiences support local films by visiting cinemas in large numbers.

Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner (“Amour Fou,” “Lovely Rita”) advocated the development of stories about Macau and the encouragement of writers from the Special Administrative Region. She said she would like to observe Macau’s casino culture.

Chinese American actress, writer and director Joan Chen (“The Last Emperor,” “Twin Peaks”), concurred with Cantet. “Sometimes, the outsider’s view is fascinating,” Chen said, adding that tax incentives would be a good way to attract international filmmakers to shoot in Macau.

Chen recalled visiting Macau in 1986 to film “Tai-Pan,” long before the Cotai strip was built, to shoot some scenes that could not be filmed in Guangdong.

“My best film school was ‘The Last Emperor’,” said Chen. “We had masters in every department. Even Chen Kaige came to do an acting cameo. The set was extremely international. It was a hopeful time for cinema.”

Chen fondly recalled the time when China’s Fifth Generation directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou dominated the global festival circuit. Speaking about contemporary Chinese cinema, Chen said, “The only slogan now is box office.”

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