Macau Film Festival: 'Hunting Season' Wins Best Picture

Hunting Season Still 2 - Publicity-H 2017
Courtesy of San Sebastian International Film Festival

Chinese filmmaker Xin Yukun won the event's jury prize with his mystery thriller 'The Wrath of Silence,' while French filmmaker Xavier Legrand won best director for 'Custody.'

Hunting Season, the debut feature of Argentinian filmmaker Natalia Garagiola, was the big winner Thursday evening at the Macau International Film Festival, taking home the best film prize during a splashy awards ceremony in the former Portuguese colony turned Chinese sin city.

French director Laurent Cantet, chair of the event's competition jury, praised the film for the "precision of its directing" and its "fluid style and construction."

A taught family drama, Hunting Season explores the strains between a father and son who struggle to connect amidst the wilds of Patagonia.

"The film deals with subjects both difficult and delicate: mourning for a mother’s death, the reconciliation between estranged fathers and sons, the loneliness of young men," Cantet added. He was joined onstage by Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh.

The other big winner was The Wrath of Silence, a would-be revenge thriller, or Chinese Western, about a poor miner searching for his missing son in the corrupt hinterlands of the Middle Kingdom's far north. The film, directed with flare by Xin Yukun, won the fest's jury prize, while its male lead, Song Yang, nabbed best actor honors. The jury praised Wrath for "its capacity to navigate between a brutal realism and the conventions of genre film."

French filmmaker Xavier Legrand, meanwhile, won the best director prize for his acclaimed family divorce drama Custody. Legrand also received the best director award at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year for the film.

Best actress honors went to Jessie Buckley for Beast, a British serial killer mystery. The film's cinematographer, Benjamin Kracun, also claimed Macau's award for technical contribution.

Samuel Moaz, writer-director of the Israeli terrorism-aftermath drama Foxtrot, won the best screenplay prize. The film is just now beginning its North American release.

Assisting Cantet in the selection of this year's Macau fest winners were fellow jurists actress Joan Chen, writer-director Jessica Hausner, novelist Lawrence Osborne and director Royston Tan.

The NETPAC Award for the best Asian film in the festival went to Vivian Qu's much-buzzed-about Chinese child sex abuse drama Angels Wear White.

Legendary German actor Udo Kier received the career achievement award, and Hong Kong action hero Donnie Yen was presented with the international star of the year honor.

"We couldn't be happier with the response of Macau audiences to our program, and I thank all the filmmakers who came here to present their films," said Mike Goodridge, the event's artistic director. "It's been a great week and a wonderful celebration of the big-screen experience."