Local filmmakers still unclear on funding requests

Maltese filmmakers are still unsure when they can apply for the government’s annual film fund, with the film commission promising it will happen soon.

The Malta Film Commission and the Ministry of Tourism launched a fund, Screen Malta, in April 2020, providing an annual budget of €600,000 for financial support to local film producers.

More than halfway through the year, producers said Malta Time they are unable to schedule productions because they do not know when applications for funding will be open.

Screen Malta’s objective is to financially support local filmmakers to write, develop, produce and distribute Maltese audiovisual works. It also aims to stimulate and nurture local film talent.

For years, filmmakers have asked for more investment in the form of increased budgets and a fixed timeline so producers and directors know when funds will be available throughout the year.

Yet the issue of the film fund exploded when a number of local film producers boycotted the inaugural Malta Film Awards in January.

The decision not to attend was a protest against the €400,000 offered for the one-night black-tie event against the country’s €600,000 annual film fund.

Producers who boycotted the event included the creators of LuzzuSimshar, Limestone Cowboy and Is-Sriep Reġgħu Saru Velenużi.

At the awards ceremony, Joe Azzopardi, lead actor of The Boat, who won the “Best Film” category, used his acceptance speech to ask for better funding from the local film industry.

It’s still unclear how much money was spent on the Malta Film Awards party.

Producer and director Martin Bonnici said it was important to have a strong national film fund for small, non-commercial titles, which play an important cultural role.

“Movies take years to plan and not knowing when the next round of funding requests will be brings a lot of uncertainty,” he said. Malta Time.

“At the end of the day, a lot of that money goes to hiring creative professionals, so it’s also about stability of employment opportunities. Unfortunately, the Malta film fund has never had a fixed and regular structure, which creates a lot of uncertainty for investors and companies in the sector.

Meanwhile, the Malta Producers Association (MPA) was also unaware of when Screen Malta will open its call for projects.

Vision 2030

As well as awaiting annual funding, film industry players are still awaiting the national film strategy, Vision 2030. The strategy was announced in January during Malta Film Week and was due to be launched in May.

Still, Bonnici said no information on the strategy has yet been released either.

“A national film policy helps us understand where we are headed and that there is a path to follow,” he said.

Without politics, he said, it feels like the industry has to “make things up” as it goes, which is not beneficial for filmmakers who have to plan years in advance. before their project hits the market.

Responding to questions, a spokesperson for the Malta Film Commission said meetings had been held with various stakeholders to discuss how to improve Screen Malta’s funds for local filmmakers and that this would be launched “soon”. .

He said the Vision 2030 program is also underway.

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Gladys T. Hensley