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Nicolas Cage, accompanied by Australian actress and producer Nikki Whelan, trod the red carpet on Saturday night as part of the opening festivities at the third edition of the International Film Festival and Awards.

Set as a talent ambassador, Cage held small group seminars earlier on Saturday. On Sunday he will hold a masterclass.

His presence helped compensate for a couple of high-profile mainland Chinese talent absentees, presumably summoned North for the Huabiao Awards taking place in China the same evening.

The breezy opening event included a specially composed song and dance routine, a whirl of clips from films that will unspool over the coming week, and an elaborate ticket-slotting set-piece.

International guests in attendance included director of Copenhagen Pix Film Festival Jacob Neiiendam; director of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Tiina Lokk; director of Sydney Film Festival, Nashen Moodley; artistic director of Chicago International Film Festival, Mimi Plauche; director of Busan International Film Festival, Jay Jeon; creative director of Mumbai International Film Festival, Smriti Kiran, and director of the film series “Along with the Gods” and IFFAM Ambassador of the year, Kim Yong-Hwa.

Asian talent on the red carpet included: Hu Bing, Niu Liyan, Lin Po-Jui, Cheng Hung-Chien, Wan Xuebing, Irene Wan, Kathy Yuen, Wilfred Lau, Jeana Ho, Jing Ci and Hanna Chan.

The Macau festival positions itself as a “bridge between cultures and generations,” according to Maria Helena Senna de Fernandes, the top local official behind the event. She is also building its connections with the regional film industry. In addition to the master classes, the IFFAM Project Market looks set to continue its already strong run.

Some 14 promising feature-film projects grouped according to type, and ranging from genre-oriented fare, high level auteur projects, Macao local projects, and one each from international partner organizations are set to be presented to potential financiers and coproducers. Industry sources suggest that a large number are clearly viable movie propositions.

Projects from the previous two editions including “The Long Walk” (director, Mattie Do), “The Price of Tea” (dir. Richie Mehta), “River Town” (dir. Lu Chuan), “Pintakasi” (dir. Erik Matti), “Neon River” (dir. Karim Ainouz), “30K Kicks” (dir. Santiago Alvarado) and “The Girl with no Head” (dirs. Liew Seng Tat, Pete Teo) are now in various stages of production.

Later in the week, Variety and the IFFAM will present awards to a selection of Asian talent on the rise.

After the formalities, the opening events moved into screening mode. “The Green Book,” described as “possibly the most purely enjoyable film I have seen all year,“ by IFFAM artistic director, Mike Goodridge was the opening film.