Cash Rebate and Film Awards are vital marketing tools, Malta Film Commissioner says

Xtra on TVM | Johann Grech says 40% cash rebate offer and film awards are 'marketing schemes', not money wasters, as they are frequently portrayed by critics

Film Commissioner Johann Grech said the 40% cash rebate and film awards are 'marketing schemes' rather than money wasters as they are frequently portrayed by critics.

"There are funds for marketing, there are funds for local productions. You cannot get frustrated because you don't get what you want," Grech said when interviewed on TVM’s Xtra by Saviour Balzan.

Promoted as a "celebration of Malta's film makers," the Malta Film Awards attracted quite a lot attention in January 2022. Several criticised the event for being "an expensive extension of the PL's electoral campaign."

Grech explained how the awards were initially aimed for people who would bring more work to the industry while giving recognition to others.

Pressed on criticism that such funds could have been invested in local productions, Grech reiterated that local producers already receive €2.5 million per year, which is 10 times more than the €250,000 they used to receive 10 years ago.

“They tell us cash rebates are too generous, but local producers are the least in European Union to choose from benefitting from EU funds,” Grech said.

He said the Labour-led government "simply strengthened" the cash refund programme, which was launched in 2005 by a Nationalist administration.

"Our cash rebate programme is modelled after foreign models. What used to be 27% is now 40%, but we're not the only ones to offer such a generous rate," Grech said.

Malta has less bureaucracy and offers film makers more support, Grech replied when asked what makes Malta unique given that other countries offer programmes of a similar nature.

Grech said the Film Commission was still committed to build "world class sound stages."

A sound stage is a soundproof hangar required in film making, something Malta does not yet offer. 

Grech also insisted the film industry has a ripple effect on the rest of the economy and predicted that one day the cinema industry in Malta will be bigger than tourism and gaming.