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The fifth annual International Film Festival and Awards Macao (IFFAM) is set to take place Dec. 3-8, with online submissions opening June 15.

In a year when the coronavirus pandemic has shut down numerous film festivals and left cinemas shuttered worldwide, the theme for this year’s IFFAM will be “A Celebration of Life and the Big Screen.” The festival will feature a specially curated section devoted to “films that define the out-of-home ‘big screen’ experience,” it said in a statement.

“It has been heartbreaking to see cinemas around the world closed this year, so IFFAM would like to celebrate the return to cinemas and the joy of this beautiful communal experience,” said IFFAM artistic director Mike Goodridge. “We can’t wait to see Macao audiences getting back into theaters.”

Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, president of IFFAM’s organizing committee and director of the Macao Government Tourism Office, acknowledged that COVID-19 “has created a sweeping global impact and posed new barriers among people.”

“In these times of adversity, our hope is kindled as the film industry never ceases moving forward with perseverance,” she said.

Located a ferry ride away from Hong Kong, the former Portuguese colony of Macao is a special administrative region of China, meaning that it doesn’t fall under the same strict censorship rules as the mainland.

Last year, top prizes in the international section went to Kirill Mikhanovsky’s “Give Me Liberty,” which won best picture, and “Lynn + Lucy,” which nabbed best director for Britain’s Fyzal Boulifa and best actress for Roxanne Scrimshaw.

Best picture in the new Chinese cinema competition went to Gu Xiaogang’s “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains,” while best director went to Singaporean Anthony Chen for his second feature, “Wet Season.”

In 2019, Juliette Binoche was tapped as the festival’s talent ambassador, and took the stage to present the Asian Blockbuster Film award to Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” which his producer accepted on his behalf.

Other major Chinese international film festivals have been indefinitely postponed so far this year, including April’s Beijing International Film Festival and June’s Shanghai International Film Festival.