The fourth edition of the International Film Festival & Award kicked off in fine style Thursday night. The opening night event allowed plenty of chance for mingling before and after a quadri-lingual ceremony that still managed to wrap up in just 45 minutes.
After a trio of tenors opened proceedings with “Over The Rainbow” it was evident that glamour and celebration were the intended take-aways, not the challenging themes presented by several of the IFFAM’s selected films, and certainly not political discourse.
Macau is the well-behaved Special Administrative Region, just a ferry ride away from Hong Kong, the larger and more troublesome S.A.R. which these days stands as the front line of the ongoing clash between liberal democracy and China’s authoritarian version of economic development.
Outside the breathless ceremony, security guards were highly visible and widely dispersed, seemingly posted on every corner within a half mile zone. Inside, festival guests were repeatedly reminded that not only is the Macao festival is celebrating is fourth edition, but that Macau the city is also celebrating its 20th anniversary as a Chinese S.A.R., and the end of Portuguese colonial rule.
Red carpet VIPs included: Suho, a former K-pop star with the band EXO, now turning into a promising actor; Korean director Kim Yong hwa (“Along With the Gods”); and mainland Chinese actor Zhou Dongyou, star of “Under the Hawthorn Tree,” and recent box office hit “Better Days.” All three were later introduced on stage as festival ambassadors or prize-winners.
Jury members introduced included: Hong Kong’s Peter Chan Ho-sun, British actor Tom Cullen, China-based U.S. producer Ellen Eliasoph, Palme d’Or-winning Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, Singapore’s Kirsten Tan, festival selector Noah Cowan, and Tricia Tuttle, head of the London Film Festival.
Industry guests included: Disney executive Cora Yim; New Zealand Film Festival head Marten Rabarts; producers Michael J Werner, Paolo Branco, and Oh Jung-wan; Ido Abram, head of the Netherlands’ Eye International; Berlin market chief Matthijs Knoll; Japanese distributor Akiko Uchida; and consultants Sanjay Ram and Rose Kuo.