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‘As Fanciful As Pie In The Sky’: Ex Film Commissioner Blasts Audit Report On Mediterrane Film Festival

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Former Film Commissioner Oliver Mallia has blasted a recent report on the Mediterrane Film Festival, calling it “as fanciful as a pie in the sky”.

Mallia took a deep dive into the RSM Malta report which was tabled by Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo and “ambitiously concluded that the Mediterrane Film Festival generated an economic impact of €7 million, nearly double the actual expenditure”.

“The report is scant on details regarding how this conclusion was reached. Now, having perused various economic impact reports on larger, established, and reputable film festivals, I find RSM’s assessment to be as fanciful as a pie in the sky,” Mallia wrote on Facebook yesterday.

The report also found that the festival cost the Malta Film Commission nearly €3.8 million despite being “notable absent” from the 2023 Government Budget, Mallia continued.

He stated that the expenditure for this single event exceeds the total public funding accessible to all local filmmakers for film and television productions over the past 27 months by around €2.3 million.

“This amount surpasses the 2023 annual budgets of several other public entities, including the Arts Council Malta, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, and even the combined budget of all national festivals organised by Festivals Malta.”

Mallia went on to state that the “humble” Valletta Film Festival which he co-organised for five years, “showcased more films and attracted more patrons on a budget less than a tenth of what was expended last year”.

The final edition of the Valletta Film Festival in 2019 ran for 10 days on a budget of around €275,000, Mallia said, with a state contribution of a “mere €50,000, most of which was reimbursed for the use of public spaces”.

The rest was raised through private sponsorships, donations, and ticket sales, drawing around 10,000 patrons to Valletta who happily paid to view their chosen films, he continued.

Mallia then highlighted how a revival of the Valletta Film Festival seems like a “distant dream” since small organisations that rely on volunteers and public support, simply cannot compete with public institutions like the Film Commission that “wield unchecked spending power”.

“Therefore, with the Mediterrane Film Festival appearing to be here to stay, I am writing this long post to hopefully ignite a conversation about what a local film festival should embody. In my opinion, the discussion about what kind of film festival Malta should host is more fundamental than the cost of the festival itself.”

Mallia ended his social media post with advice to “those responsible and willing to listen”:

“Do not let history repeat itself with the festival’s second edition. Film festivals should celebrate cinematic art, not merely serve as a backdrop for promoting Malta as a filming location.”

“A genuine film festival, particularly in a country with an emerging cinema industry, should foster film development and can certainly be both less costly and more impactful. Most importantly a film festival should first and foremost be about films and audiences watching films.”

“Indeed, any film event can eventually enhance tourism, but credibility must precede, shifting from pomp to substance, from razzle-dazzle to the soul of cinema, and from economic calculations to meaningful cultural contributions.

Moreover, the RSM-authored report concluded that the festival generated an estimated €10.23 million in potential business opportunities for the Maltese economy.

Meanwhile, it created or enhanced a total employment impact of 53 jobs, with a total value-added impact of €2.5 million.

Featured image: Mediterrane Film Festival

Do you agree with Mallia?

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Ana is a university graduate who loves a heated debate, she’s very passionate about humanitarian issues and justice. In her free time you’ll probably catch her binge watching way too many TV shows or thinking about her next meal.

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