With the debut of the Malta Film Week and Awards, a generous cash rebate and an upgrade of local studio facilities, the island nation is raising its profile as a versatile, cost-effective location for film shoots: "We are building an industry."
When Colin Trevorrow took the stage to receive the Film Commissioner’s Award at the inaugural Malta Film Awards on Saturday night in Valletta, he joked that when his new film Jurassic World: Dominion premieres next June, “all around the world, there will be children that are going to believe that there are dinosaurs on this island.”
“Please, tell them it’s all true,” he added. “Let’s keep the magic of the movies and the magic of their imaginations alive, because that’s part of what we do.”
Jurassic is one of dozens of international films and series to shoot in Malta over the last several years. And, for the first time, Malta doesn’t double as another country – part of the story is set there, a point of great pride locally.
Trevorrow participated a day earlier in a Q&A, and he was one of several high-profile international talents who appeared on stage or by video Saturday at the slickly produced awards ceremony, hosted by British comedian David Walliams. Collectively, they represent the ambitions of the Malta Film Commission to convert the country, in commissioner Johann Grech’s words, into “a world class film industry.”
Those plans include a generous cash rebate, upgrading of existing studio facilities and new soundstages, a promise to train and invest more in local crews and, of course, promoting the islands through
events like the Malta Film Awards, part of a week-long series of panels and presentations dubbed the Malta Film Week.
At the awards, Harvey Keitel won a best actor statue for his performance in 2021 Malta-US-Canada co-production Blood on the Crown, executive produced by Roland Joffe. The film also took best director for Davide Ferrario and additional nods for screenplay, score, hair and make-up, production design and post-production. The night’s other big winner was UK-Maltese co-production The Boat (2018), directed by well-known local line producer Winston Azzopardi, which won best film and best cinematography.
Films and series from the last 100 years of Maltese production were eligible for the awards, meaning this might not be an annual event – at least not in its current form – though Malta Film Week will be, Grech says.
The awards also weren’t without some early growing pains: some local producers, including the backers of Malta’s contender for the International Oscar, Sundance special jury award-winner Luzzu, launched a boycott over their high cost, according to the Times of Malta. “As beautiful as investing in these awards are tonight, I think investing in our indigenous films is more important,” Boat star and co-scripter/co-producer Joe Azzopardi declared at the awards.
Says Grech: “The Malta Film Week, including the Malta Film Awards, has created a nationwide
debate about our industry, how we can grow further, how we can keep competitive, how we can create more jobs, how we can secure more funding – not just government, but government and business working together.”
Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.
Photos courtesy Latina Pictures