The Winter, an Argentine film about isolation and survival. Photo: IFFAM
The Winter, an Argentine film about isolation and survival. Photo: IFFAM

Two first-time directors from opposite sides of the world won accolades at the inaugural International Film Festival and Awards-Macao (IFFAM) in a fitting end to the event’s debut in the former Portuguese enclave.

Argentine Emiliano Torres won best film for The Winter, which explores themes of survival and isolation on a ranch in Southern Patagonia and young local Tracy Choi clinched the Macau audience choice award for her first feature film.

“I hope the award can bring my film closer to Asia and allow the continent’s audience to watch it,” said the 45-year-old Torres on Tuesday after collecting the gong, which is also a first for him as a director.

Emiliano Torres (center) takes best picture at the IFFAM. Photo: IFFAM

Torres, who has been an assistant director on many previous films, also co-wrote the script for The Winter with Marcelo Chaparro.

The Winter is set on a ranch in Southern Patagonia, with the story focusing on an old foreman who is replaced by a younger man. Both men must face the icy onset of the harsh winter and the chilling conflict between them.

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Locals picked Sisterhood as the winner of the Macao audience choice award, which looks at the pace of development of Macau through the lives of a group of women who work in a massage parlour.

Sisterhood is director Tracy Choi’s first feature film, which also rewarded Jennifer Yu for her performance with the Award for Best New Young Actress.

Choi previously did a documentary I’m Here about the story of a girl’s struggle with homosexuality.

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Portuguese film Saint George landed the directing prize for Marco Martins and a best actor statuette for Nuno Lopes.

The Jury Prize winner was Trespass Against Us, which also secured a Best Actress Award for Lyndsey Marshal. Free Fire’s Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley won Best Screenplay.

Jury president Shekhar Kapur said Macau had the potential to become an important Asian host for films and cultural festivals.

Shekhar Kapur (pictured left) with other members of the jury. Photo: IFFAM

Asian culture “needs venues, from which it can express itself. I was amazed by the infrastructure that is here,” Kapur said. The Indian film director also said that the jury panel was “one of the best I have worked with.”

The six-day festival was organised by the Macau government and the Macau Films & Television Productions and Culture Association. International film festival favorites such as Manchester By The Sea, Toni Erdmann and Neruda were some of the films screened at venues around the special administrative region.