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International Film Festival & Awards Macao: Our final picks
December 17, 2018
Here is our final update of a selection of film we managed to see at this years International Film Festival & Awards Macao. The festival drew to close on Friday 14th with the screening of Chinese film Shadow. For full list of awards can be found here.
Martina and her boyfriend, Manuel, smuggle through the Bolvian/ Argentinian border cellophaned balls of cocaine which they have just ingested. It all goes horribly wrong once they cross the border, Manuel has a severe reaction that renders him dead in their hotel room. Martina with a dead body in her hands and unscrupulous drug-lords on her tail, she has to find a way to remove the drugs from Manuel’s body and decides to call her father who she’s never, Javier a surgeon and blackmails him into helping her. Director Barbara Sarasola-Day has created an intensely and masterfully paced drama that keeps the intrigue and tension throughout where the gory exercise of extracting the drugs is alternated by the unsentimental friction between the father and daughter relationship.
Yura (Yura Sato) and his family leaves Tokyo to move in with his grandmother in the snowy countryside. Yura enrols into the local school, which happens religious yet Christian school, as he settles in, one day during prayer Yura starts to see a small thumb-sized Jesus, who proceeds to grant all his wishes. A very cute and quirky offering film by Japanese director Hiroshi Okuyama (the film was his graduation project) with an exceptional performance by Sato, impressively his first foray into film. The little messiah is an eccentric if amusing touch, although more angel than Jesus in appearance. Overall the films nature-filled aesthetic, static camera and a muted colour pallet work wonders in painting an endearing story about young introverted boy which also subtly features religious nuances.
Happy New Year Colin Burstead
Colin Burstead hires a country mansion for a New Year’s Eve party for all his extended family and their various hangers-on. As the evening progresses the familial dynamics are forever shifting as the booze kicks in, old riffs rehashed, deep hidden secrets laid bare and inevitable altercations occur. A more personal film by prolific director Ben Wheatley but not a highpoint, perhaps the film strikes a lighter tone to what we are used to for his more darker and sombre back-catalogue. This isn’t necessarily a bad film, but there is something contrived about its premise, dialogue and some of the characters. Noteworthy performances from Doon Mackichan as the manipulating matriarch, her peacekeeping daughter in Hayley Squires and her love-rat brother played by Sam Riley.
Shadow (Ying), was the closing film of this year’s IFFAM. Directed by Zhang Yimou, its inspired by the tai chi diagram which is omnipresent throughout, telling the story of a ‘shadow’, a type of warrior who is used as ‘body-doubles’ by Kings and commanders to distract their enemies. A gorgeous, visually arresting film displaying a thousand shades of grey and black to representing the shifting gradation between yin-yang, accompanied by jaw-dropping choreography of the fighting sequences. A stunning offering which oddly sits more into the art-house genre than blockbuster due to it being dialogue heavy with rich psychological character portrayals.
The 3rd installment of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao took place 8-14th December, 2018.
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Words by Daniel Theophanous @danny_theo_.
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