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The fourth edition of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), which opened last night (December 5) at the Macao Cultural Center, is positioned as one of the key events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the handover of the former Portuguese colony to the People’s Republic of China.

Five Macanese features are among the highlights of this year’s selection of 50 films, said Mike Goodridge, IFFAM artistic director. “It’s more than we ever played before,” he said earlier during the announcement of the programme.

The special presentations includes “Ina and the Blue Tiger Sauna,” a thriller set after the 2008 financial crisis, journeying through the mysterious underworld of Macao Antonio Caetano de Faria and Bernardo Rao; musical drama “Let’s Sing” by Keo Lou; Chen Shangshi’s “Patio of Illusion,” a drama that pays homage to the rich heritage of the city of Macau; “Strings of Sorrow,” a drama that introduces Macau’s classical music scene by Oliver Fa; and “Years of Macao,” a collection of shorts by local directors that capture the transformation of the city over the past two decades from sleepy town to gaming and leisure Mecca.

The 6-day includes two main competitions, one an international event where 10 feature films from first or second-time filmmakers vie for a $60,000 prize, and the New Chinese Cinema section, which sees seven Chinese-language films go head to head.

Goodridge said earlier that IFFAM has expanded the New Chinese Cinema section this year.

Entries include Derek Tsang’s “Better Days,” which was pulled out from the Berlinale earlier this year; family drama “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” by Gu Xiaogang from mainland China; “Lucky Grandma”, a Mandarin-language comedy set in New York City by Susie Sealy of the U.S.; “Over the Sea,” a drama addressing the issues of left behind children in mainland China, by Sun Aoqian; a mainland Chinese-French co-production “To Live, To Sing” by Johnny Ma; “Wet Season,” the well-received second feature by Singapore’s Anthony Chen; and Liang Ming’s “Wisdom Tooth,” which recently bagged the jury prize and best director at the Pingyao International Film Festival.

While the festival opened with “Jojo Rabbit,” a high-profile international title with Oscar potential, it will close on Dec. 10 with something much closer to home,“i’m livin’ it,” a directorial debut by Hong Kong’s Wong Hing-fan. It stars the award-winning superstars Aaron Kwok and Miriam Yeung and tells a story about homeless people sheltering in a fast food joint.