Photo credit: Ali Tollervey
A team of Maltese artists has just arrived in Detroit for a documentary project to collect stories and engage individuals who left Malta to make the US their home.
Entitled Leaving Latitude 36, the documentary is being made for the Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture and gets its name from the latitudinal coordinates of the Maltese archipelago, which are 35.8997200° to be precise.
Headed by Charlie Cauchi, the projects seeks to share the stories of Maltese diaspora, showing how and why Maltese people emigrated and how connected they feel to their ancestral home. It forms part of a larger Valletta 2018 supported trans-media project, called Latitude 36, that engages Maltese individuals and their community located around the world. Collecting stories and unearthing both personal and collective narratives. The migratory experience is placed at the core, mapping and examining migratory patterns and narratives through the visual arts.
Diaspora: The dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland
Chauci is the UK-born daughter of Maltese migrants, who lived in London until she was 12, before the family moved back to Malta.
“I’d always been fascinated by the Maltese relationships that formed in the UK,” said Ms Cauchi. “My father always had Maltese friends that we would visit and they would speak Maltese, and my father – once in a while – would maybe take me to a place where we could buy trays of pastizzi.”
Starting in Detroit, the team will be documenting the Maltese community in their local clubs as they ready themselves for their yearly festa of Maria Bambina, which is also the last of summer festa’s celebrated in the Maltese villages of Mellieha, Senglea and Naxxar.
The Detroit leg of the trip is being funded by the Malta Film Fund (MFF), out of which a short feature documentary is to be produced.
Moving to West Virginia, where Cauchi, a Queen Mary University Phd candidate, will deliver a paper on her work at the University of West Virginia.
The team then drives to Toronto where they will be based in Little Malta. And for their final city they will travel to New York to meet with the Astoria community as well as the many other Maltese migrants that call the Big apple their home.
Currently there are thousands more Maltese people that live abroad than in Malta itself. And seeing how our culture has evolved, changed and survived in so many places across the world, this is sure to be a fascinating story.
In 2016 the documentary team gathered stories from in and around the U.K and the next leg of their journey will take them to the U.S and North America.
The documentary is co-produced by Rebecca Anastasi, and the crew includes Brighton based photographer Ali Tollervey, Maltese artist Sebastian Tanti Burlò, First Assistant-Director Nick Woolgar, and Maltese-American researcher Marc Sanko.
Leaving Latitude 36 is supported by the Valletta 2018 Foundation, the Malta Film Fund, The American Embassy in Malta, the University of West Virginia and PBS.
If you or your family would like to contribute to the documentary please send an e-mail to the Latitude36 team at [email protected]