The International Film Festival & Awards Macao has appointed former Protagonist Pictures CEO Mike Goodridge as its artistic director. The second edition of the festival is scheduled to be held December 8-14 in and around the former Portuguese colony of Macau, which is best known for a casino industry bigger than Las Vegas’.
In a rethink following an ambitious launch last year, the festival has reset its competition section to focus on first- and second-time feature directors. It will now offer a $60,000 prize to the best feature.
The festival began last year with the hiring of high-profile festival selector and China expert Marco Mueller. But in a dramatic turn of events, Mueller quit in September, just one day before his selections were announced. No reasons were given for his resignation, though speculation centered on disagreements between Mueller and the festival management.
The first edition went ahead with a caretaker team spearheaded by head of festival management Lorna Tee and Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Macau Government Tourism Office and president of the festival’s organizing committee.
Goodridge this week announced his departure, effective August, from London-based sales and production company Protagonist Pictures, where he had been CEO for the past five years. It is understood that Goodridge will not be resident in Macau, but shuttle to the territory when necessary. Prior to heading Protagonist, Goodridge held multiple roles at film trade publication Screen International, ultimately as its editor.
Other programming strands in Macau include a festival of festivals panorama section; a retrospective section known as Crossfire, in which leading directors present their favorite works by other filmmakers; and a family-friendly sidebar.
The festival’s industry hub, headed by producer and sales agent June Wu, will return with masterclasses, seminars, and an East-West co-production market. It will present 14 projects in search of finance and industry partners.
The festival’s selection consultants include Giovanna Fulvi for Greater China, Aseem Chabara for India, Violeta Bava for Latin America, Fionnuala Halligan for Europe, and Hiromi Aihara for Japan.
Chinese director-producer Huang Jianxin, producer Michael J. Werner, Korean producer Oh Jung Wan, Hong Kong producer-distributor Nansun Shi, and producer Luis Urbano will act as advisors to the festival.
The announcements were made Friday at an event in Macau, presided over by Hong Kong actress Miriam Yeung, who was appointed as the festival’s talent ambassador.