The 10 best films/events to see at the Macau international film festival 2018
- Nicolas Cage and Aarok Kwok will be there as ambassadors for the festival of more than 50 films, and Chen Kaige heads the awards jury
- Audiences will get first look at major awards contenders such as Green Book, and new films from Zhang Yimou, Yorgos Lanthimos and Luca Guadagnino
Now in its third year, the International Film Festival and Awards Macao runs from December 8 to 14 and is an exciting addition to the film calendar. It offers local film-goers their first chance to catch big-name awards hopefuls and critical favourites before their cinematic release.
“Fifth generation” Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige heads this year’s jury, which will consider 11 new titles from around the world. Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, Hong Kong’s Aaron Kwok Fu-shing and rising Korean starlet Lim Yoona will be the event’s talent ambassadors. Below we select 10 titles from this year’s line-up not to be missed.
1. Green Book
This year’s opening film is already being touted as an early favourite for the best picture Oscar in February. Comedy director Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary) shifts gears for this mismatched road movie set in the racially charged 1960s.
Viggo Mortensen plays an Italian-American bouncer assigned to drive Mahershala Ali’s African-American pianist on a tour through the Deep South. With career-best performances from its two leads, themes of tolerance and racial equality, amd infused with a refreshing streak of heart-warming humour, Green Book has tear-jerking crowd pleaser written all over it.
Luca Guadagnino follows the breakout success of Call Me by Your Name by tackling one of the most revered genre films of all time. Using Dario Argento’s lurid fever dream Suspiria merely as inspiration, Guadagnino’s bold reinterpretation hurls Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton and Chloe Grace Moretz together for an epic, athletic nightmare of female empowerment and ungodly desire.
At the height of the cold war, a young American girl (Johnson) arrives in Berlin to attend an elite dance academy that, unbeknown to her, is overrun by witches.
What follows is intoxicating, polarising and entrancing cinema, fuelled by Thom Yorke’s bewitching score.
Indian cinema is not known for its horror films, but that is all set to change with Rahi Anil Barve’s dazzling dark fantasy. Set within the rain-drenched ruins of a once-opulent mansion, Vinayak (Sohum Shah), the illegitimate son of the former lord, indulges his lifelong obsession with discovering the source of a limitless supply of gold.
His greed takes him deep within the bowels of the earth and face to face with a vicious, primal deity, but as the years take their toll on Vinayak, the country above ground undergoes a startling transformation of its own.
4. The Favourite
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, creator of esoteric delights The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer , turns his attention to the British aristocracy in this scabrous satire. As Olivia Colman prepares to take over the role of Queen Elizabeth from Claire Foy in hit Netflix drama The Crown, she is already garnering considerable awards buzz for her performance here as the ailing Queen Anne.
A power struggle ensues when Emma Stone’s servant girl arrives in court, threatening the delicate relationship between Anne and Sarah (Rachel Weisz), the scheming best friend who has been governing the country in the queen’s stead. Expect a costume drama unlike any you’ve seen before.
5. Nobody Nose
Hong Kong actor Lam Ka-tung takes the lead role in this China-produced thriller set on location in Macau. Combining elements of police procedural, financial thriller and psychological drama, Nobody Nose sees Lam portray a former police officer who remains obsessed with an unsolved cold case that left a colleague dead and a criminal on the loose.
The imminent launch of a new financial platform in the former Portuguese colony appears to be somehow involved, and he sets out to investigate. First-time director Kong Ruiliang helms this rare China-Macau co-production that makes spectacular use of the city’s locations.
6. The Guilty
Taut, claustrophobic and tirelessly compelling, Gustav Möller’s compact thriller was one of the year’s great discoveries. Unfolding in real time entirely within the confines of a police dispatch call centre, The Guilty follows Asger (Jakob Cedergren) on the eve of a disciplinary hearing, as his late-night shift slowly unveils a horrific crime.
With each new call, Asger uncovers more information about the voices on the other end of the line, and what seemed at first like a simple distress call escalates into a full blown emergency that traverses the length and breadth of Copenhagen – all while we never leave the room.
7. Fly by Night
The highlight of this year’s New Chinese Cinema sidebar is undoubtedly this action thriller from first-time director Zahir Omar. Set in the neon-drenched streets of Kuala Lumpur, Fly by Night follows a gang of crafty cab drivers, led by Sunny Pang, who rob and blackmail wealthy clients they collect from the airport.
Things turn sticky when a hot-headed younger member ups the stakes and the risk, only to attract the attentions of the police and Frederick Lee’s deranged gangster. Drawing its influences from the best of East and West action cinema, the results are hugely satisfying.
8. The Man Who Feels No Pain
Winner of the People’s Choice Award in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section, this is a superhero film unlike anything conceived in the DC or Marvel universes. Due to a rare congenital defect, Surya (Abhimanyu Dassani) is impervious to pain, and vows to learn karate and become a crime-fighting vigilante so he can clean up his troubled neighbourhood.
Bursting with energy, imagination and a knowing sense of humour, Vasan Bala’s uproarious crowd-pleaser repackages the classic comic book origin story as a full-blown masala masterpiece that is not to be missed.
Revered Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s recent films may have received a muted response, but Shadow restores his reputation as one of the most visually innovative directors of wuxia action working today.
Shot in a gorgeous washed-out colour palette that recalls classical Chinese ink and wash paintings, the film features Deng Chao in a dual role, as an ailing Three Kingdoms commander, and as his secret double, who rules in his stead. Bursting with intrigue and deception, Shadow sees Zhang inject his signature elegance and beauty to a story of identity, duality and honour.
10. “Local View Power”
Since its inception, the International Film Festival and Awards Macao has made a concerted effort to champion local talent wherever possible. This is evident in this dedicated showcase of emerging voices from Macau.
A curated selection of 14 short films will be screened in three rounds during the festival, each funded by the Macao Cultural Centre’s commissioning programme. Tackling a range of subjects in dramatic, documentary and even animated form, this is the perfect opportunity to discover the freshest new talents from the city, and experience the stories and social issues that matter most to them.
The third edition of International Film Festival & Awards Macao runs from December 8 to 14 at various venues in Macau. For full programme details, visit the festival website.
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