Short film dives headlong into the Maltese sea

A guerrilla production team has put together a short film that fuses fantasy and reality against the backdrop of the Maltese sea. We speak to Nicole Cuschieri – director of Bews il-Bahar, set for a May 2013 release.

Nicole Cuschieri (right):
Nicole Cuschieri (right): "While filming, we spent a lot of time fighting the elements of nature."

First-time director Nicole Cuschieri took a plunge into the freezing springtime seas to make 'Bews il-Bahar' a short film that packs much: sirens, fishermen, and their tenuous relationship to our unique seascape.

Working off a script by Christian Galea - who also stars in 'Bews' - Cuschieri set out to evoke an unmistakable Maltese flavour.

"The Maltese landscape and Maltese culture played a huge part conceptually and visually. I hope that the film feels truly Maltese, despite its fantastical elements. The protagonist and his father are typical Maltese fishermen," Cuschieri said, adding that the "dryness" of the Maltese sea was a key inspiration.

"On the small, magical island in which the film is set, nothing much grows and it's not a very inviting place. There is no food or water, and it is impossible to survive there."

The physical limitations of the shoot turned out to be one of the production's main challenges... or as Cuschieri puts it: "fighting the elements of nature".

"I had actors and crew swimming in March and nearly getting hypothermia! The locations were not easy either, carrying heavy equipment over sharp rocks and slippery areas... the weather varied over the three days, which meant we had to reshoot certain scenes because of continuity.

"Overall though, we were very lucky with the weather, though on the second day we had rain for many hours so we had to stop. Because of this, on the third day we ran out of time and ended up having to light up a cave at night and try to make it look like daylight. The results were surprisingly convincing!"

The film, which was made with the help of the Malta Film Fund, was wrapped up last week, and now goes into post-production, with a projected May release date.

The rest of the crew includes: Martin Bonnici (Director of Photography), Mark Jenkins (Grips), Marie Claire Camilleri (Assistant Director), Elisa von Brockdorff (script supervisor), Karen Schembri Grima (hair, makeup, prosthetics), Maria Muscat (wardrobe), Matthew Micallef (props and set dresser), Aleks Bundalo (sound), Arthur Cassar (PA), Mario Sammut (soundtrack). The cast is made up of: Christian Galea (Mikiel), Tia Reljic (Hadra), Kathleen Parsons (Sirena) and Pierre Stafrace (Ninu).

Bews il-Bahar is sponsored by MIB, Nexos Lighting, MPS, Farsons, Beauty Team Salon, Dawn Diving and Winston Azzopardi.

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