The Manchester International Festival (MIF) ended last weekend with a theater performance of William Shakespeare\'s \"Macbeth\" broadcast live to cinemas across the world. \"Macbeth\" was performed in a disused church in a derelict industrial area of central Manchester. It starred Sir Kenneth Branagh, who last year featured in the London Olympics opening ceremony as the title character and Alex Kingston, famous from \"ER\" and \"Doctor Who,\" as his wife. During its two-week run, the show had been hailed by critics as one of the highlights of this year\'s MIF, a biannual festival that concentrates on premieres of original works, many by leading international artists or performers. Speaking at the final full day of the festival, director Alex Poots told Xinhua what MIF was about: \"We commission new work; for each festival we commission about 18-20 pieces across art forms, with a range of international work and work from the northwest region of England.\" \"This is the fourth MIF. We launched in 2007 and run every two years,\" Poots said. \"We launched our first festival with \'Monkey: Journey to the West\', the wonderful Chinese story which was directed by Chen Shi Zheng,\" said Poots. Music for \"Monkey\" was by Damon Albarn, from the pop bands Gorillaz and Blur, \"so it was a Britain-meets-China project,\" said Poots, who added that the show was still running six years later, with current performances at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. This year\'s festival was launched with music band Massive Attack collaborating with film maker Adam Curtis. Another MIF highlight has been a performance of Percy Bysshe Shelley\'s \"Masque of Anarchy,\" which was \"far more resonant\" in its disused and formerly derelict building than if it had been in a theater, Poots said. Shelley\'s poem was an outraged response to the murder of protesters by British soldiers in 1819 at the Peterloo Massacre in central Manchester, just a few meters from the venue where the long poem was performed. Poots said, \"On one level it is a poetry reading, and the atmosphere was electric. Sometimes an idea just gels and crystallizes. All our shows have artists who are \'best in class\' and a lot of care and love goes into the projects.\" \"But sometimes you get that extra bit; sometimes one and one equals 11. That was one of those shows that did that. It had a local resonance and a relevance for today,\" he added.