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‘It’s Time To Speak Up’: Maltese Filmmakers Hit Back At ‘Disgraceful’ New Film Awards As Industry Divisions Revealed

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Filmmakers across Malta are banding together as they call out the newly-announced Malta Film Awards as “scandalous” and “disgraceful’ – with some threatening to boycott the event.

The backlash comes amid allegations of certain productions given funding over others, the new festival replacing the beloved artistic Valletta Film Festival as well as the revelation that the one-night awards ceremony is set to cost €400,000 when the entire annual budget for the Screen Malta Film Fund is €600,000.

Filmmakers took to social media today in a rare moment of public criticism aimed at the Malta Film Awards, hinting at action in the near future.

“We would have loved to celebrate Simshar – The Film‘s amazing, hardworking cast and crew. However, we can’t do this at the expense of long term vision for our industry. More to come on this soon,” said director Rebecca Cremona.

“It was not an easy decision to make,” said Martin Bonnici. “I really wanted to celebrate the amazing cast and crew that made Is-Sriep Reġgħu Saru Velenużi – Film a reality, but it can’t happen like this. More to come on this situation.”

The directors’ comments come as the Malta Producers Association is expected to issue a statement about the film awards.

So far, 72 projects were submitted to the Malta Film Awards, with 80 producers, 60 directors and 340 actors set to be involved in the ceremony on 27th August, the Malta Film Commission has said.

The awards were launched as a “celebration of Malta and all those who collectively make up its film and television industry”.

One young filmmaker shared her personal experience in the film industry, noting the divide in agenda between “micro budget, indie features and the big foreign features”.

Recounting a number of ways the Malta Film Commission had genuinely supported budding creatives in the past, Francesca Mercieca noted that serious problems were quickly revealed when one started digging deeper.

“I went to look up who was receiving the large sums for feature/short films between 2013 and 2020 and it didn’t really add up. Some names are especially lucky, some genuinely struggled to make the process of getting the money even though their project got green lit,” she said.

“To be in competition with films that have other agendas is not right,” she continued. “They got there because of other reasons, and I completely support all the directors that stated it is morally incorrect to be in this line up.”

“We get enough comments getting labelled as a corrupt country from other international film collaborators. Sort out your priorities, Malta Film Commission.”

Actor Thomas Camilleri noted how the Valletta Film Festival, which was garnering international attention due to its focus on quality films, had been cancelled for a relatively small amount in comparison to the current budget given to the film awards.

“It is beyond scandalous that the Malta Film Commission can justify blowing €400,000 on an awards ceremony when its entire annual budget for the Screen Film Fund is €600,000. The Valletta Film Festival, one of the best annual cultural events Malta has ever seen, had to be cancelled because Arts Council Malta withdrew €35,000 of their funding. Disgraceful,” he said.

As the island continues to promote the local film industry internationally, with a firm aim at attracting big name projects to the island, Maltese filmmakers are now asking – who exactly are these new film awards meant to celebrate?

Do you think Malta needs its own big budget film award ceremony?

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Johnathan is an award-winning Maltese journalist interested in social justice, politics, minority issues, music and food. Follow him at @supreofficialmt on Instagram, and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]

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