Using real fishermen gave an authenticity to Luzzu that could never be replicated, Luzzu director Alex Camilleri said in an interview Lovin Malta to discuss the deeper parts of the production of the upcoming release.
The fictional film depicts the realities of a typical Maltese family, sustained by a local fisherman, as he grapples with the modern washing over the traditional.
The cast of the film was mostly made up of non-actors, but real fishermen within the traditional practice. Camilleri explained how this had practical significance, which helped contribute to the authenticity that he was after.
“Rather than a performance, it’s more – it’s being,” he said, after explaining that the physicality of the role required someone that actually lived this reality.
“It really can be felt that they poured the entirety of their souls in it,” he said.
Camilleri explained how the inspiration for this film was twofold, and how he was drawn to the world of fishing.
“The film came from two places. One, I was just very interested in the world of fishing, which I knew almost nothing about. I have never gone fishing in my life prior to making this film. I also often got seasick, so I tried to stay away from boats as much as possible,” he said.
“When I started speaking with fishermen during my research process, was when I discovered the beauty in the traditional world. This led me to my second reason, as I realised that with all the differences between myself and fishermen, there was something I really resonated with,” he continued.
Camilleri was the first person in his family to be born in America, as his parents had immigrated from Malta in the late eighties. While never having lived in Malta, he always felt a deep connection to the islands and the sea.
“I was the first person not born in Malta. And yet even though I was not fully from Malta, I always felt somehow so connected to the place even while being a stranger,” he said.
The film also deals with a common worry of local fishermen, that their practice will soon be wiped out by modern technology.
“Tension between the past and the future of traditional practices is at the tip of the tongues of many fishermen. They hope that their sons would inherit their trade, but they’re also very clear-eyed on the situation and know how difficult it would be to sustain the family practice,” he said.
“This is tough and it’s only getting tougher.”
He also clarified that the mission of the film was in no way to make a political point, but rather to appeal to the emotional side of viewers.
Luzzu stands as the product of one confronting necessary but painful realities of adulthood.
“There was something that I confronted in Luzzu, which was very personal and it was about letting go of who you were in order to become who you need to be.”
He remarked that while Luzzu is not a sad film, it made him sad most of the time.
“There was just something inherently sad in the making of the film. And I was sad while I was making it. And then I was sad while I was editing it. I don’t even think it’s a sad film, but that’s just how I felt making it.”
He also mentioned how difficult it was to direct a film on a boat while suffering from extreme bouts of nausea, but expressed that having an amazing crew made the difficulties easier.
He added that he plans to challenge himself for his next production, to create something which will make him happy while he’s on set every day.
Camilleri encouraged the Maltese audience to make sure to watch this film, set to hit local cinemas on the 8th of September.
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