Malta film industry at centre of Valletta’s bid as European Capital for Culture

Though film production in Malta has been chosen as a ‘metaphor’ to guide Valletta’s candidature as European Capital for Culture in 2018, the Film Commissioner believes Malta still has a “long way to go”.

Valletta is gearing itself up to become a hub of art and culture come 2018 – but the final judgment will be handed down by an international panel on 12 October.
Valletta is gearing itself up to become a hub of art and culture come 2018 – but the final judgment will be handed down by an international panel on 12 October.

Filmmaking in Malta has been chosen as a 'metaphor' to unofficially 'guide' Valletta's candidature as European Capital for Culture 2018, a document made available to the public this week has revealed.

But Film Commissioner Peter Busuttil has said that Malta still needs to "break the ice" on the international playing field by producing a home-grown film that garners worldwide appeal.

Unveiled at a press conference on September 13, the 'Bid Book', entitled Imagine 18, has now been made available online. The bid will be presented for a final evaluation on 12 October, when an international panel of judges will decide whether Malta is ready to serve as European Capital for Culture come 2018.

Pitching itself an information manual aiming to answer the public's questions and concerns regarding Valletta's - and by extension, Malta's - preparations towards becoming a bustling hub for art and culture come 2018, the sumptuous volume (somewhat obliquely) employs filmmaking as a motif for the Valletta 2018 Foundation's efforts.

'We have chosen chapter titles that loosely follow filmmaking; a genre that exhibits parallels with any creative process from fledgling idea to final output,' the document reads.

It goes on to identify parallels between the art of filmmaking - both in general as well as related to a contemporary, Maltese context - and the Valletta 2018 Foundation's preparations towards becoming European Capital for Culture.

While some of the comparisons are a bit forced - 'V18 alludes to the referencing used  for versions of films and software. V.18 is the release of a new version of Valletta. Not a final one, but one we envisage having many sequels' -  some of them hit upon the Foundation's mission statement more concretely.

For example, a connection is made between the 'democraticing' technological advances that have enabled amateur filmmakers to make their mark with little financial resources (owing to the availability of cheap equipment and the ease with which material can spread online): 'V.18 parallels this changing

industry; we have to think big while observing strict budgets and encourage everyone to be a part of our ECoC'.

Another aspect of filmmaking in Malta that the bid picks up on is the disparity between film servicing and film production, and how Malta's experience with filmmaking has for decades been skewed towards the former.

'Film is an industry we've participated in but not fully 'owned' or put to work in exploring issues facing our culture and society.


The V18 Bid Book - cover by Ljupco Samardziski

'Now though, we are seeing greater public commitment to the industry with new funding and support that open up opportunities for individuals and organisations in this sector.

'V.18's role is to pursue such chances to show that with the right stimuli and mechanisms we can nurture a number of creative careers in Malta in sectors traditionally thought of as being beyond our reach,' the bid reads.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Film Commissioner Peter Busuttil, while welcoming the extended metaphor to filmmaking, claimed that Malta "has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go".

"While I'm confident that we'll remain a wholesome industry when it comes to the servicing front, unfortunately as of yet there is no Maltese film which can be distributed worldwide - we have to break that ice, as it were," Busuttil said, adding that V18 could be a useful initiative to help on this front.

Asked what the Commission can do to facilitate this process - even when it comes to encouraging co-productions between Maltese filmmakers and producers and financiers in other countries, as some sources have suggested - Busuttil insisted that this "cannot come from the government".

"We can encourage budding filmmakers, but ultimately it is up to them make an effort to produce and promote their film.

"Because when you have a product that you strongly believe in, you will always find a way of turning it into a success," Busuttil said.

Read the bid online.

More in Valletta 2018
The Malta Film Commission’s web site boasts that a hundred feature films have been shot in Malta and they are still counting. Their highly informative and actionable web site provides the would-be film producer and director with a host of very useful and informative links. One of the little known resources that are also available in Malta is Malta Segway Tours. They can comfortably provide up to 24 Segways for use by film crews. The Segway is an ideal part of the movie industry. Think about all that added mobility of vital crew, executive and logistical staff - even the director should have a Segway at hand to buzz around a larger set without burning any shoe leather or working up a heavy sweat on those humid summer days. Perfect even for the lower budget productions - the gyroscopic control and performance of a Segway may not be a full steady-cam rig but is very effective if you don’t have a “Spielburg” budget. Speed, relative silence and anti crew fatigue - surely that is worth looking into and what’s more our Segways are powered by the Maltese sunshine so your movie will be just that much greener. So much potential, we need to make it happen!