‘Dear Wormwood’ Claims Macao Project Market Prize

Philippines director Dodo Dayao’s supernatural horror project “Dear Wormwood” claimed the top prize on Sunday at the IFFAM Project Market, part of the ongoing International Film Festival & Awards Macao.

“Wormwood” is a tale of five women living together in a remote house in the forest, where a mystery illness strikes one of the quintet, followed by a series of cataclysmic events in the surrounding forest. Dayao says he originally conceived the film as a chamber piece about the end of the world, but has expanded it into something larger and more political. He calls it a: “Lovecraftian cosmic horror that seems like a tonal fit for our times.”

It boasts Malaysian director Bradley Liew (“Motel Acacia,” “Singing in Graveyards”) as producer, alongside Patti Lupus and Bianca Balbuena. Prior to the Macao event it had secured roughly 15% of its estimated $525,000 budget. The winners shared a cash prize of $40,000.

“The Day and Night of Brahma,” to be directed by Sheetal Magan and produced by Sheetal Magan, collected the creative excellence award. The Macao Spirit Award went to Uk Kei, a drama about a woman who flees her native Portugal and arrives in Macao where she is forced to face up to her past. The director is Leonor Teles, production by producer Filipa Reis.

Popular on Variety

The co-production award went to “Drum Wave,” a folk horror tale to be directed by Natalie Erika James on a budget of $8 million. Intended as an Australian-Japanese co-venture, the story follows a pianist who is plunged into an island community, and has to confront motherhood issues when the town holds its annual fertility festival. James previously directed the Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote-starring “Relic.” Production is through Carver Films and by Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw (Justin Kurzel’s “Snowtown”.)

Outside the cash winners, another project, “Nocebo” was recognized as an outstanding film project. Director Lorcan Finnegan and producers Brunella Cocchiglia and Emily Leo were complimented with an honorable mention in the Awards Ceremony on Sunday.
All five awards were determined by a jury that included Singapore film director Eric Khoo, Matthijs Wouter Knol, director of the Berlinale’s European Film Market, and Shozo Ichiyama, Producer/ CEO of Kino International from Japan.

In total the IFFAM Project Market brought together 14 film projects to meet with industry figures to discuss partnership opportunities, co-production and finance. The event also included work in progress presentations of Dutch director Jim Taihuttu’s Indonesian wartime drama The East as well as Yakuza Princess, an action thriller from director Vicente Amorim.

Organizers said that over 50% of the projects have Asian subject matter, and that 13 of the 16 projects are genre films. Nine were selected by IPM, and one each from international genre market partners, Blood Window (Argentina), FIRST Financing Forum (China), Frontieres (Canada) and Sitges (Spain).

More Film

  • Ariel Winograd'TOD@S CAEN' film premiere, Los

    Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history. The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not [...]

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • 1917 Movie

    Why '1917' Is the Last Film That Should Be Winning the Oscar (Column)

    There’s a feeling I always get at the end of a long Oscar night when the movie that won isn’t a terrible choice, but it’s the safe, blah, MOR predictable choice, the one that conforms to the dullest conventional wisdom about the kinds of movies Oscar voters prefer, because in the core of their being [...]

  • Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock'

    Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock' in the Works as Feature Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Enderby Entertainment is developing a feature film based on Melissa Fay Greene’s civil rights drama “Praying for Sheetrock,” Variety has learned exclusively. The non-fiction book, published in 1991, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, Georgia Historical Society Bell Award and the ACLU National Civil [...]

  • Jared Harris arrives at the 26th

    No, Jared Harris is Not Playing Doctor Octopus in Marvel's 'Morbius'

    The first-ever trailer for Marvel and Sony’s next Spider-man spinoff “Morbius” left comic book fans reeling with theories. While the plight of the main character, Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) – a scientist dying of a rare blood disease who accidentally turns himself into a vampire – seemed ripped right out of the comics, the [...]

  • SAG Awards 2020: What You Didn't

    SAG Awards 2020: From Charlize Theron to 'Parasite,' What You Didn't See on TV

    Brad Pitt made a crack about his marriages. Robert De Niro got political. And Jennifer Aniston talked about appearing in a commercial for Bob’s Big Boy. Those were just some of thing that happened on stage at the SAG Awards that were broadcast on TNT/TBS on Sunday night. However, Variety was inside the Shrine Auditorium [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content