With the highly Maltese film Is-Sriep Reġgħu Saru Velenużi finally hitting the big screen tonight, Erica Muscat, one of its lead actors is hopeful it can instigate a much-needed debate about Malta, its culture and its recent political history.
The film is an adaptation of the award-winning book by Alex Vella Gera, and follows father and son Richard and Noel Sammut Petri and how a 1984 attempt assassination plot on former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff weighed down on their lives in 2012.
The film portrays Malta at a time that isn’t often spoken about and rarely taught in schools. As a result, most people’s impressions of it are based on stories they would have heard from relatives and friends, with very little by way of objective facts at their disposal to form an opinion.
“I’d like the film to get a conversation going,” Muscat said. “If you come out of it simply thinking ‘oh, that was a nice film’, then we’ve failed. If you come out of it wanting to kill someone – and by that, I mean angry and wanting to rectify [the situation], then we’ve done our job.”
Malta, Muscat said was the victim of a great deal of miscommunication among its people, something that was surprising to her given the small size of the country.
“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a mixed family, and by that I mean I was exposed to different points of view from across the board, so we did have conversations about these things,” Muscat said.
School was however completely different, she said. “It was always a matter of which side you’re on. When elections came along we didn’t ever discuss it. To me that is a breakdown of democracy because being able to have a discussion and find common ground is essential.”
Having read the book before auditioning for the film, Muscat said her first reactions were mixed feelings. “It was both intriguing and disturbing. The murder plot and the narrative around it is interesting, but then you’re reading it and thinking these are my people, that’s us. It’s not a very nice way to describe us, but it’s true.”
She said that many of the characters, both in the book and in the film, were relatable to her and many other people who were raised in Malta.
The film will be showing exclusively at the Eden Cinemas from tonight.
A Q&A session with the film’s director, Martin Bonnici will be held after tomorrow’s 6:25pm screening and a second Q&A session will be held the day after with Muscat and other members of the cast.
Will you be going to watch the film?