First-time feature pitches won three of the four prizes announced on Monday at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM).
The $15,000 cash reward for best project went to director Wang Haolu and producer Camille Gatin for “Fellow Travellers.” The project is an adaptation of a short story by Alastair Reynolds. Wang’s debut tells the story of a man who travels to a parallel world, replacing his alternate self, in an attempt to attain closure following the sudden death of his estranged wife in his own reality.
The festival is holding its fifth edition, entirely in digital form this year, Dec. 3-8. The accompanying industry hub, also in its fifth edition, ran 3-5 Dec.
It included 14 shortlisted projects in search of finance or distribution partners. Seven were making their market premiere, and a further six were Asian premieres. The project event, also held in digital form, was attended by more than 100 industry executives from around the globe.
The project market awards, and the four winners, were unveiled in a live online ceremony. The winners had been chosen by a jury that involved Locarno Film Festival artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro, Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar, and Choi Yeonu, head of production at the U.S. film team of Korea’s CJ ENM.
The jury said of “Fellow Travellers”: “This is a bold and intriguing project that questions the nature of desire and seduction. Is there a possibility that we might live again and thus grasp the opportunities we missed the first time? Crossing the boundaries between life and death, but also between science fiction and supernatural ghost story, ‘Fellow Travellers’ is an exciting project, that boasts a tremendous artistic and commercial appeal while exploring some of the most urgent philosophical and existential issues of our time.
The Creative Excellence Award worth $10,000 went to Greece-France-Japan project “Titanic Ocean,” from director Konstantina Kotzamani and producer Maria Drandaki. It will be Kotzamani’s debut feature following a string of successful short films.
The jury said that “Titanic Ocean” was: “A daring project which is supported with flair and savviness by the producer and director. A sensual blend of fantasy and realism, ‘Titanic Ocean’ presents itself as a sure-fire hit of tomorrow.”
The Best Co-production Award, also worth $10,000 went to U.S.-Thailand-Spain project “Entanglement,” from director Mattie Do and producer Annick Mahnert. “(This) is a project that does not shy away from tackling genre conventions but wants to do so by establishing an extremely personal artistic approach,” said the jury. Do’s previous effort, “The Long Walk,” was a participant in the first edition of the IFFAM Project Market, and had its premiere as a finished film at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, in the Venice Days sidebar.
The Macao Spirit Award ($5,000) was awarded to Singapore-Indonesia project “Prisoners of the Pacific,” by director Huang Junxiang and producer Eric Khoo. The film will be Huang’s feature debut.