Macau International Movie Festival

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Mainland businessman Xu Chao Ping is bringing a big bundle of Christmas gifts to Macau this fortnight, in the form of the all-new Macau International Movie Festival. Ping, an avowed movie buff who works in the Chinese television and multimedia sector, has been planning the festival as a project of passion over the past year and founded the Movie-Television-Media Association of Macau last March to organise the event. “My focus has been to create a first-class film festival from an international perspective, through the pooling of film producers and investors,” writes Ping via email from our sister SAR. “Macau‘s cultural fusion of East and West and the tourist entertainment elements make for the perfect environment for organising this kind of festival.”

Of the 100 filmmakers from over ten countries that submitted films for inclusion in the festival, sixteen have been selected as finalists, all scheduled to be shown at the Macao Forum. The finalists will be vying for a raft of prizes, to be awarded by a distinguished judging panel chaired by popular Mainland actor You Ge.

A couple of titles, such as Courting Condi by American director Sebastian Doggart, have already caught our attention. Touted as a “musical docu-tragi-comedy,” the film follows a love-struck singer-songwriter's hilarious, emotionally engaging quest to woo former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Also intriguing, Buscando a Miguel, by Colombian director Juan Fischer, tells the story of a callous young Colombian politician who’s blinded by his own privilege before suffering a terrible accident and undergoing a transformation fraught with struggle.

Complementing the festival from December 27-30, Ping has also planned a Movie, Television and Animation Product Trade Fair in hopes of bolstering the local film and media industries by facilitating more regional cooperation among artists, technicians, distributors, and other parties integral to the movie industry. While perhaps a rather dull affair for the general public, anyone interested in breaking into the Asian creative market will find an excellent opportunity for brushing elbows and making self-introductions to industry insiders.

On December 29, Hong Kong Kung Fu director Stanley Tong hosts the Shaolin Kung Fu and Action Movie Forum, a public panel discussion among local and international artists involved in the production of martial arts movies and TV programming. Topics of discussion include the integration and development of Chinese action films with international action films, the history of Chinese martial arts cinema, and current trends and techniques in high-tech action filmmaking.

To their credit, the organisers of the festival have also taken steps to engage the broader community and, in particular, local Macau youth. Choral and dance competitions among local middle school, high school, and university groups kick off the festival's opening ceremony on Saturday 26. Later that same day, they take it to the streets with a full-scale parade circling throughout the old city and Taipa, exhibiting decorative floats celebrating the festival's participating films. Perhaps a young would-be Macanese Wong Kar-wai will spot the parade from his bedroom window and will follow it all the way to the festival, where a love of cinema will be born. We’ll be ready and waiting – popcorn in hand – for that next young wunderkind’s movies. Steve Cheng

For full festival schedule and tickets see, www.mtm.mo or call (853) 2840 2840.

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