IFFAM | Hunting Season wins Best Film Award as festival wraps up second edition

The night’s big winners. From left to right: Natalia Garagiola (director), Lautaro Bettoni (actor), Matias Roveda (producer) and Gonzalo Tobal (editor)

The award ceremony for the 2nd edition of the International Film Festival and Awards Macao (IFFAM) was held last night at the Macau Cultural Center, where 10 films from around the world were considered for a total of 14 awards.

The Best Film award – perhaps the most prestigious of the evening – went to Hunting Season, Natalia Garagiola’s 2017 Argentine drama that explores the relationship between two overtly masculine characters; a son and his separated, biological father. Hunting Season had been previously screened at the 74th Venice International Film Festival where it won the Audience Award.

Garagiola said she was humbled by last night’s award. “I always think these things happen to other people – not me – but I am really happy for it to be me,” she said while receiving the award. “Thank you so much, Macau!”

Hong Kong actor, filmmaker and martial arts practitioner, Donnie Yen, was awarded International Star of the Year. The action movie star was recognized for his work in 2016 – including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny – as well his roles earlier this year in xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Hong Kong crime drama Chasing the Dragon.

The press asked him what made last year particularly exceptional, leading to the prestigious award. “I’ve been in the business for over 35 years. What I did this year was the same as [what I have been doing throughout my career],” Yen explained. “I set a goal to make good films; to make myself better as an actor and as a director.”

Meanwhile, prolific filmmaker Samuel Maoz won the Award for Best Screenplay for his film Foxtrot, which he described as “a philosophical puzzle between father and son.”

Speaking to the press last night, the Israeli director expressed his gratitude to the Macau festival but admitted that each film award only makes aspiring filmmakers more “hungry” for the next.

“As much as you eat; you are [ever] more hungry,” he said answering a specific question about whether he was aiming for an Oscar award.

A total of 10 Israeli films have been nominated for the Oscars’ Best Foreign Language Film award since 1964, but none have been successful. Foxtrot stands for possible nomination this year. If it is nominated, it will become the first Israeli film considered for the award since 2011.

“Israel has never had a director win a foreign language film Oscar and so I would like to be the one to do that,” admitted Maoz.

The Macau Audience Award went to Borg McEnroe, the tennis sports drama set at the 1980 Wimbledon Championships, which IFFAM creative director Mike Goodridge had previously described as the festival’s “most broadly accessible film.”

Goodridge also introduced the Best Technical Contribution award, explaining that it was “for those whose technical contributions have made a significant impact on the motion picture industry.” The award was presented to cinematographer Benjamin Kracun for Beast.

French child actor Thomas Gioria was presented in absentia the Best New Young Actor or Actress Award for his role in Custody, while Song Yang and Jessie Buckley won the Best Actor and Best Actress awards respectively. Best Director went to Xavier Legrand, the man behind Custody and the Jury Prize was presented to Wrath of Silence.

As announced in November, Udo Kier was presented last night with the Career Achievement Award. The German-born actor – who has appeared in more than 200 films – took the stage to praise organizers for the title of the award, which he considered superior to the usual “Lifetime Achievement” award.

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