An investigation has been launched after claims of the “sickening” treatment of migrants working as extras of an Italian Film production emerged in the media, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has told Lovin Malta.
Mizzi, who had actually visited the set last Monday, revealed that the government would hold any form of financial incentives pending the result of the investigation.
The investigation will be a joint operation between Malta’s Film Commission, Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA), and the Department of Industrial Employee Relations (DIER).
“The reports worried me…it is simply unacceptable to mistreat anyone,” he explained.
The Minister did reveal that he was unsatisfied by the explanations are given over the incident and was fully supportive of an investigation into the event.
Johann Grech, the Malta Film Commissioner, also pledged his support to an investigation.
“The Malta Film Commission has taken note of the media reports and will carry out an investigation with the support of other competent authorities to investigate such reports. Malta prides itself on high-quality film productions and the Commission will take any steps necessary to make sure that the interest of all those working in the film industry is safeguarded,” he said in a statement.
The Times of Malta earlier reported how several members of the crew from ‘Tolo Tolo’ resigned in protest over the alleged mistreatment.
Sources described a series of disturbing and “sickening” events on the set. In one incident, a group of 60 people were left on a boat in the sun for six hours without any toilet breaks or shade, even though a majority did not know how to swim.
It is also alleged that they did not have sufficient access to water or food throughout the gruelling shoot.
In a separate alleged incident, children were left without earplugs during a scene with heavy gunfire. Child extras were also made to work late in the night during filming
Meanwhile, a pregnant woman fell ill after inhaling a substantial amount of smoke in a scene that involved a burning car.
Speaking to The Times of Malta, some claimed that the action might have been a deliberate attempt to bring out authentic reactions. However, others said that the extras were made to “relive what they’ve been through without any sensitivity or care in the world.”
Some claimed that the extras were taken advantage of simply because of their heritage.
“They know very well that these people needed the money and perhaps they think they’ve been treated worse before, it definitely felt racist,” a person said.
One senior crew member is even reported to have referred to the extras as “scum”.
The CEO of Halo Pictures, the Maltese production house overseeing the shoot, Engelbert Grech has denied the claims, dismissing them as the actions of a dissatisfied former employee, insisting that Health and Safety officers were there at all times.
“We have spoken to many extras, and they are happy with the production, to the extent that they already signed on for another production,” Grech said.
The film ‘Tolo Tolo’, directed by Checco Zalone, is being shot at Fort Ricasoli and the Malta Film Studios.