The Malta Film Week cost taxpayers a total of €1.3 million, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has said.

The minister was unable to specify how much of that money went into the Malta Film Awards night, saying that figure was "still being compiled". 

Held in January, Malta Film Week reached its peak with the film awards gala evening. The event was held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre on January 29.

The initial budget for the night had been set at €400,000, but reports in the media had said that British comedian David Walliams alone had netted €200,000 for his participation in the event.

A number of local film producers had boycotted the awards in protest, contrasting the government's lavish spending on the event to the €600,000 in annual aid offered to local film productions. 

Bartolo had already said, back in February, that data on the cost of the awards night was still being compiled. Times of Malta had subsequently filed a Freedom of Information request for that information. The FOI was rejected by the Malta Film Commission.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo speaks on Friday. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

The minister has never confirmed or denied reports of excessive spending on the awards night, saying he will "not speculate" and would present figures to parliament in due course. 

Former PN MP Jason Azzopardi had asked Bartolo, in parliament, to confirm the amount spent on the film awards. Bartolo had not answered that question and instead argued that the local film sector had experienced a turnaround in recent years, employing 2,000 people and generating €98 million in the economy during the pandemic up to last December.

Speaking on Friday, Bartolo said that the money spent on Malta Film Week was intended not just to continue to attract foreign film producers but also to strengthen the local sector.

Apart from the awards ceremony, the €1.3 million went towards paying for masterclasses, panel discussions and film screenings. 

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