Perception is king

By the simple trick of implying that all those who criticise certain aspects of the way the Film Commission is run do not want the ‘film industry’ in Malta to flourish, Johann Grech pretends that he can cover up for all that he is doing in the name of the Film Commission!

Film Commissioner Johann Grech
Film Commissioner Johann Grech

Often in the relationship between the government and the governed, what matters most is perception.

Take the message that the Chairman of the Malta Film Commission, Johann Grech, published on the social media to ‘defend’ himself from the doubts about whatever he is doing in our film ‘industry’. These doubts regard the enormous rebate given to the production of ‘Gladiator 2’ and the way the Commission spends unlimited money on events that are held to propagate Malta’s reputation as a filming venue.

Like many, I do not know Johann Grech personally; so, the perception of Johann Grech that came across from his diatribe on Facebook was very important from my point of view. I must say that Johann Grech failed miserably, even if he has done everything by the book, which many doubt.

Grech alleged that everyone who criticises him is against the system of rebates given to film producers to attract them to choose Malta as a venue. From this false premise, he went on to say that giving rebates to those who use Malta as a film location helps to employ many people during film-making. Hence, he argued that those who are against these rebates do not want Malta to make money from films and are therefore ‘against’ Malta’s interests.

He is in favour of Malta and so expects to be above monitoring how he dispenses Maltese funds! This nonsense did not go down with level-headed persons - to the extent that the Prime Minister himself had to come to his rescue. In fact, recently Robert Abela felt he had to comment on the financial benefits of foreign producers choosing Malta as a film location.

Yet there are too many unexplained things dogging the financial management of the Film Commission. Agreeing that Malta should be promoted as a film venue is not tantamount to agreeing that the Film Commission is given unlimited funds for this promotion. Nor is it tantamount to accepting that this money is being used wisely.

By the simple trick of implying that all those who criticise certain aspects of the way the Film Commission is run do not want the ‘film industry’ in Malta to flourish, Johann Grech pretends that he can cover up for all that he is doing in the name of the Film Commission!

Take the amount of money that is said to have been given - or is going to be given - to the producers of Gladiator 2 as rebates. How has this been worked out? In the real world - away from Johann Grech’s fantasies - the film has been badly affected by the ongoing US actors' strike, causing production to be shut down.

Meanwhile, the calculated amount of rebate to be given to the film has not changed - one way or the other - and the numerous extras that were supposed to take part as well as all those working in supporting services have been left without a job! Or is the Film Commission paying them for doing nothing?

Johann Grech’s assumed an incredibly superior attitude in his speech on Facebook, as if he was some Prime Minister addressing the nation. This has not helped him one iota.

Perception is king.

A case where perception has misinterpreted the serious intention of an official was the suggestion made by Richard Bilocca - CEO of Wasteserv - in a recent appearance on Xtra when he said that people complaining about bad odours from the organic waste bag at home can freeze it until the next collection day.

I tend to sympathise with Richard Bilocca much more than with Johann Grech.

Bilocca gave a perfectly good technical solution to the problem of organic waste festering for two days before it is collected.

We put food in the refrigerator or in the freezer so that it does not rot. Why should we let food waste rot when we can stop that as well?

But perception is king. How many households are prepared to put their bag of organic waste with food in the freezer for a day or two?

I do not think there are any, even though the idea makes perfect scientific sense.


At long last

Kudos to Mgr. Anton Teuma, the Bishop of Gozo, for his sermon last Sunday in which he condemned the immorality of those being paid for a job that they do not do. The system is rife in Gozo - more than it is in Malta on a percentage basis. In Gozo 35% of full-time workers are employed by the State.

Politicians have covered up for this scandalous system in order to protect their voters. Meanwhile, the money of honest citizens is used by the state to be given capriciously for nothing.


Prosecco threatened

According to a report in, new research has found that climate change could wipe out Prosecco - the sparkling white wine produced in Italy’s mountainside vineyards that is one of Europe’s most popular drinks.

Grape yields are dwindling, devastated by a deadly combination of extreme weather and soil degradation. A new analysis - published in the iScience journal last month - describes the harvest as ‘fragile and under threat.’

The study’s lead author Dr Paolo Tarolli from the University of Padova explains that the risk is not just losing an agricultural product or seeing a landscape change: ‘The risk is losing the entire history of communities and their cultural roots.’

Extreme weather is making life hard for Prosecco producers. Sudden, intense rainfall events trigger sudden soil erosion and ‘slope failures’ - when the earth slides away - in the steep vineyards of Northern Italy. Drought is another issue, making crop irrigation extremely difficult.

This year, Prosecco producers were inundated with massive spring rainfall and hailstones, followed by a swelteringly hot summer. It is estimated that the unstable weather - triggered by climate change - could reduce the Italian wine grape harvests by up to a fifth.

Prosecco’s unique flavour comes from its high-altitude origin. Mountain-grown grapes are smaller and have a higher ratio of skin to juice giving them an intense flavour.

Demand for the crop is huge, surging by more than 33% in five years but an exodus of people from rural areas have led to a serious workforce shortage in the mountains.