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Mediterrane Film Festival Is ‘Ignoring Grassroots Realities in Maltese Filmmaking’

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Following the conclusion of the Mediterrane Film Festival, two associations representing entertainers and film producers have warned that the festival overlooks grassroots realities for people working in the industry.

“The Mediterrane Film Festival wrapped up last Sunday with a lavish gala, during which Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech proclaimed that ‘the growth of filmmaking in Malta has paralleled the growth of Malta as a nation’,” the statement from the Malta Producers’ Association (MPA) and Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) read.

“Amidst the prolific workshops and screenings, the conspicuous lack of Maltese films indicates that the success being lauded isn’t quite there.”

MPA and MEIA urged the government to fulfil three key promises if the local film industry is to truly and sustainably prosper.

First of all, a ‘Vision 2030’ strategy that Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo promised in 2022 to place the indigenous film industry at the forefront has yet to materialise.

“The MPA and MEIA advocate for establishing a cohesive National Film Policy, especially now that the film fund has moved to Arts Council Malta (under the Ministry for Culture), while the Malta Film Commission falls under the Ministry for Tourism. This policy is crucial to eliminate the current fragmentation and ensure a functional ecosystem that reliably and sustainably supports, trains, and provides employment to Maltese filmmakers.”

They also urged the government to fulfil its promise in its 2022 electoral manifesto to increase the national film fund budget to €2 million.

“This commitment has not transpired. Moreover, the fund has been either issued haphazardly or not at all over the past few years,” they warned.

“Consequently, Maltese filmmakers have had to contend with a fundamental disadvantage in an already highly competitive and challenging landscape.”

“We urge the responsible entities to provide clarity and expedite the allocation of funds, ensuring that the Maltese film industry becomes a vibrant and competitive sector, making the significant contributions to the cultural and economic fabric of the country that it can and should make.”

Finally, they called for Malta’s film cash rebate guidelines to be updated so as to ensure the investment made by international productions are actually channelled into the local economy and to foster and safeguard the local filmmaking community.

“The much-promised revised cash rebate guidelines for 2024 urgently need to be published, as the pace and nature of the industry don’t afford such delays,” they said.

“Industry players have been informed that the revisions are in the process of being approved by the authorities—although the nature of these revisions is not clear.”

“The MPA and MEIA call on the authorities to publish the revised guidelines without further delay and to start an inclusive consultation process for 2025.”

The associations said that for there to truly be unity through film, dialogue between the government, local stakeholders, and experienced industry professionals is critical.

“The Film Commissioner proclaimed that he intends to ‘keep giving new chances for Maltese talent to shine.’ Following through on these commitments is the true test of dedication and will genuinely give us something to celebrate at the next edition of the festival,” they said.

“The MPA and MEIA stand united in their mission to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for local filmmakers. We urge the government and relevant authorities to recognise and address the existing disparities within the industry.”

Cover photo: Film Commissioner Johann Grech at the Mediterrane Film Festival

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