Marco Mueller Jerome Paillard

Source: HIIFF / Jerome Paillard

Marco Mueller, Jerome Paillard

Veteran festival director Marco Mueller is set to launch a new festival in Macau, with an industry strand led by former Cannes Marche du Film executive director Jerome Paillard.

The Asia-Europe Festival of Young Cinema will run from January 5-11 and aims to serve audiences from Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China while bringing together film industry professionals from East and West.

The opening weekend will be focussed on the public-facing screenings of between 35 and 40 films, built around 15 masterclasses with filmmakers including Japan’s Hamaguchi Ryusuke, Italy’s Luca Guadagnino and Iran’s Amir Naderi. A full line-up of titles, including opening and closing films, will be announced in early December.

The industry screenings will run from January 8-11 and will include more than 20 works-in-progress of upcoming Chinese-language projects, comprising both new and established directors, all of which will be revealed in the coming weeks.

At least 30 film sales companies from Europe are expected to attend, who will be looking to meet with Chinese buyers and streaming platforms. Paillard, who stepped down from Cannes in 2022 after nearly 30 years at the Marche, is industry coordinator, working alongside Beijing-based Cao Shanshan.

The festival is currently finalising a partnership with two hotel groups, which operate cinemas ranging from 600-seater theatres to VIP screening rooms. Macau is an autonomous region off the Chinese coast, which is known for its high-flying gambling industry.

Mueller is a former director of Venice, Rome and Locarno film festivals as well as China’s Pingyao and Hainan Island (where he was artistic director) and has assembled a team that includes former colleagues Alena Sumakova, Tomita Mikiko and Jeremy Chua.

The festival veteran was also a founder of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM) that debuted in 2016 but stepped down before the launch of its first edition due to creative differences. The event was shuttered after five editions.

Mueller, who has been based in China since 2021 running the Film Art Research Centre of Shanghai University and teaching at Shanghai Film Academy, told Screen that the first Asia-Europe Festival of Young Cinema would be the “zero edition” and would prove a testing ground for future editions.

“The system of masterclasses and related screenings will target film students and young viewers, offering them the possibility of getting exposed to other ways of rethinking cinema,” he said. “The ‘Young’ in the festival name points to the first edition of the full-fledged festival, which is likely to happen in December 2024 and will focus on new directors. The festival competition at that edition will be composed solely of first features.”

Financial support comes from the Macau government and the Association for the International Promotion of Chinese-language Film, a Macau association financed by mainland investors, alongside further sponsorship.