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Maltese Filmmakers on Turning Malta From a Hollywood Service Provider Into a Country With Also a Burgeoning Local Industry

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Rafa Sales Ross Guest Contributor In the last decade, the Maltese film industry has undergone radical development, with a strong focus on seeing the island country evolve from a service provider to Hollywood productions to telling their own stories on screen.

Speaking with Variety ahead of the second edition of the Mediterrane Film Festival, Maltese filmmakers have highlighted the importance of fostering local talent, rerouting foreign investment into native productions and strengthening bonds with neighboring countries in the Middle East and North Africa. “Things have changed drastically in recent years,” said veteran filmmaker Mario Philip Azzopardi, whose 1971 “Il-Gaġġa” is widely presumed to be the first full-length feature filmed entirely in Maltese. “The building of shooting facilities, especially the water tanks, attracted a lot of movies and now there’s the attraction of 40% tax rebate.

The problem is we have become primarily a service country, and creating Maltese movies is extremely difficult. We can’t afford the budgets of foreign films.” The Canadian-Maltese filmmaker, who spent most of his career in Canada but recently returned to live in his home country, emphasized the importance of the co-production model. “You see great movies coming out of countries like Turkey and Spain, but they have the market for it.

We don’t have the market yet. We must work in a co-production model like I have done with Canada. This is how we survive.” Alas, this model also presents its challenges, the biggest being the disparity of representation between co-producing countries. “When you work in co-production, the leads are never really Maltese.

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