19th edition of Kinemastik International Short Film Festival 2023

The 19th edition Kinemastik International Short Film Festival 2023 takes place from the 28 to 29 July 2023 at the Garden of Rest, Floriana

The quality of the films screened at Kinemastik spans everything from lo-fi experimental to accomplished fictions, and the criteria for selecting short films is not so stringent thematically.

Filmmakers worldwide often struggle with getting their works shown, but technology has opened up a seemingly closed world whereby it is much easier to submit films and discover platforms and audiences.

Filmmaking is instinctive and creativity is not hindered by lack of resources, so Maltese films, or rather indigenous films continue to exist despite limitations, but we need to see more focused film education in Malta that provides a more critical and progressive process, one that is less theoretical and more up to speed with the ways in which filmmakers can truly evolve within an educational structure.

The film service industry aspect is being driven by campaigns, but the support for the growth of indigenous film is disproportionately low. Filmmakers need to develop their skills, and film knowledge, over a period of time, and find the adequate support needed. If one were to ask, is it possible to make a living as an auteur filmmaker in Malta, the answer would be no. Now more than ever, we really need to show independently produced films that do not have a commercial drive per se, to audiences that are increasingly saturated by the homogenous and the mainstream.

Kinemastik is a collective and NGO that came into existence 20 years ago when a group of friends decided to put on one night of short films within the Valletta bastions in an abandoned space just below the Upper Barrakka Gardens.

Over the years, the organisation has evolved with its audience, bringing a wide variety of short films and independent productions to a highly receptive audience that has supported Kinemastik throughout the years.

Initially we did not have a long-term strategy for how we would grow and sustain ourselves, but we always believed fervently in creating an autonomous space where cinema and audiences could interact, in environments outside of the mainstream.

Within the first few years it became evident that people really enjoyed coming together to watch films, directed by local and international audiences in locations that we would transform for the duration of the festival – what resonates most is that sense of magic intrinsic to cinema, which we extend into the environments we create in often overlooked or lesser known public spaces, across Malta and Gozo.

Since then, we have grown into an organisation that is supported by the Arts Council Malta through the ICO Fund, and we are a festival recognised internationally for its ethos and connection to the global network of critically acclaimed filmmakers, many of whom have had their early works showcased through our annual festival and year-round programme.

Our ethos has always been one of openness and inclusivity. We promote film as a social act, and filmmaking as courageous and expressive. Our scope remains to always seek out new voices, and champion works of excellence that are thought provoking, supporting the notion that cinema is an expression of freedom, and not one constrained by limitations of funding or ambition. Though we have hosted events with world class musicians such as Patti Smith and Bonnie Prince Billy, we remain true to our core of being a space for a plurality of voices. And we strive to bring this to our audiences at a price affordable to all.

Short films

O Ghana, Minn hawn ghal fejn?

Dir. Adrian Camilleri, Malta, 2023

O Għana, Minn Hawn Għal fejn? explores the history of għana, the Maltese Islands’ very own folk song, and its standing in contemporary times. Featuring għannejja (folk singers) and daqqaqa (folk guitarists), this documentary also includes archival audio-visual material showing examples of għana from Malta’s past sourced from the Magna Żmien Foundation.

Neighbour Abdi

Dir. Douwe Dijkstra, The Netherlands, 2022

How can you understand a violent past? Somali-born Abdi reenacts his life, marked by war and criminality, with the help of his neighbour and filmmaker Douwe. Through playful reconstructions in a special effects studio, they embark on a candid and investigative journey through a painful history, focusing on the creative process throughout.

Douwe Dijkstra (1984) is a filmmaker and visual artist from the Netherlands. He studied Illustration Design at the ArtEZ University of the Arts. His work is a mixture of video, animation and VFX, and can be described as both humorous and socially engaged. His projects range from short films and documentaries to video installations and theatre performances. In 2008 he co-founded 33⅓ Collective with Jules van Hulst and Coen Huisman, a multimedia platform that worked on various visual theatrical projects. In 2019 33⅓ Collective stopped, you can find the complete works of the collective on 33one3rd.com.


Dir. Bill Morrison, USA 2023

Filmmaker Bill Morrison moves away from experimental collage and decaying celluloid to reflect on the possibility of truth as shown through recordings of an event from different vantage points. Using footage from several surveillance cameras, including those of the police, the filmmaker manages to piece together the subjective, chronological and emotional sequence of events leading to the murder of an innocent hairdresser at the hands of police. The film is one of the best portraits of systemic racism in US law enforcement. (RS)

The 19th edition Kinemastik International Short Film Festival 2023 takes place on 28-29 July 2023 at the Garden of Rest, Floriana, Malta. 7pm Sundowner set, 9-11:15 Film Screenings, 11:30 until late – music and dancing, Tickets €12 + Vat, Block ticket €20 + Vat

Arts Council Malta.

This article is supported by Arts Council Malta.