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Mike Goodridge, who was appointed artistic director of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM) in 2017, is stepping down after four editions. The festival will not take place in 2021, as COVID-19 restrictions remain tight in Macau.

In 2020, like many festivals, IFFAM went online. Last year, it featured a film screening section and masterclasses with Hirokazu Koreeda, Hur Jin-ho, Nina Hoss and Viggo Mortensen.

Goodridge is busy in production and management through his Good Chaos label and will continue to work in festival programming and curation. He was a consultant with the Chicago International Film Festival this year.

“I have had an incredible experience working with my friends and colleagues in Macau,” said Goodridge. “We built the audience for different kinds of cinema in the city and created an event that resonated across the region and the world. The team we assembled was second to none, and we were all dedicated to stimulating the growth of film-making and film-going in Macau. IFFAM’s future is uncertain in an age of COVID and seismic local changes, but I wish it continued prosperity.”

Macau is a special administrative region of China and is the only place in China that allows casino gambling. The modernization and expansion of the casino industry has sustained a surge in economic growth in the enclave over the past two decades. But a central government crackdown on the sector has seen the introduction of a new gaming law, and numerous measures to control the outflow of capital such as facial recognition systems at ATMs, limits on cash withdrawals and talk of the introduction of a government controlled digital currency.

The biggest shakeup may be yet to come. The six master licenses for casino operations are up for renewal in ten months from now. Before that, the government is pressing the license holding companies not only to diversify into non-gaming businesses, but also to invest in favored development projects across the border in the cities of the Greater Bay Area.

IFFAM was established in 2016 and Goodridge joined after founding artistic director Marco Mueller exited. Goodridge created an international competition for first- and second-time directors and strengthened the festival’s Chinese-language programming with the creation of the New Chinese Cinema competition strand. The festival played and celebrated strong Chinese language titles such as “Better Days,” “Dwelling In The Fuchun Mountains,” “Love Poem,” “To Live To Sing,” “Wisdom Tooth,” “The Pluto Moment,” “Up The Mountain,” Xiao Mei” and “Wrath Of Silence.”

Variety was involved with the festival as co-presenter of the Asian Stars Up Next awards. The event was intended to shine an international spotlight in acting talent that had achieved a degree of local or regional success within Asia, but who have the potential to go further.

Meanwhile IFFAM hosted Hong Kong/Macao premieres for titles which would go on to be Oscar favorites: “The Shape Of Water,” “Green Book,” “JoJo Rabbit,” “The Favourite” and “Judy.”

Jury presidents included Laurent Cantet (2017), Chen Kaige (2018), Peter Chan Ho-sun and Christian Mungiu (2019) and Ning Hao (2020). Visiting guests over the four years included Donnie Yen, Aaron Kwok, Joan Chen, Zhou Dongyu, John Woo, Takashi Miike, Li Shaohong, Diao Yinan, Nicolas Cage, Juliette Binoche, Jeremy Renner, Lily James, Wang Xiaoshuai, Anthony Chen, Barbara Sukowa, Udo Kier, Michelle Yeoh, Jessica Hausner, Zhang Hanyu, Shekhar Kapur, Ben Wheatley, Christopher Doyle, Samuel Maoz, Asa Butterfield, Joe Cole, Tom Cullen, Danis Tanovic, Phillip Noyce, Mabel Cheung and Midi Z.