Renowned Maltese director Winston Azzopardi has paid tribute to Branko Lustig, the Oscar-winning producer behind blockbuster films Gladiator and Schindler’s List, after his death yesterday.
The award-winning film producer will be remembered primarily for his work on Steven Speilberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’ as well as Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’ which was partially filmed here in Malta.
During his time filming here in Malta, Lustig developed a good relationship with local film producer Azzopardi, who remembers his dear friend on this sad day.
“He was a larger than life character and fun to be with. His most famous moment came when he won an Oscar for Schindler’s List where he described his story from a Nazi concentration camp to the Oscar stage.”
Lustig was a key player in transforming the Malta film industry into the powerhouse it is today and his work earned him the National Order of Merit from President Guido de Marco.
“He loved coming here. He came at least two or three times after they filmed Gladiator.”
“The last time we met was a few years back when I spent New Year’s Eve at his house in LA. After that, he moved back to Zagreb.”
THE BOAT Actor Joe Azzopardi (aged around 12 years old) being embraced by Branko Lustig whilst holding the Oscars statutes from Schlinder’s List and Gladiator.
Lustig died in Zagreb, the capital of his native Croatia at the age of 87. Further details surrounding his death have not been revealed.
Lustig’s work on Gladiator helped put Malta’s film industry on the map. He’ll be remembered worldwide for his outstanding work both on-screen and off, for his bigger-than-life personality, and for the invaluable contribution he made towards honouring the six million Jews who died under the Nazi regime.