Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has again failed to divulge the cost of the Malta Film Awards, saying he “doesn’t speculate about numbers”. 

A number of major local film producers boycotted the January 29 event over what they called an “imbalance” between the cost of hosting the ceremony and the amount the government allocates to fund film productions.

The original budget for the awards ceremony was set at €400,000 while the film fund amounted to €600,000 per year.

But as marketing for the ceremony intensified and British comedian David Walliams was brought in to host it, rumours from industry sources began to swirl that the cost had ballooned far beyond €400,000. Some estimated that it must have cost well over €1 million. 

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

But Bartolo was revealing nothing on Friday evening. “I never speculate on numbers,” he said when pushed to provide a figure for the black-tie event. 

“I will stick to my word and table those figures in the House once parliament is in session again.”

The Labour Party has promised €2 million in funding for Screen Malta- Clayton Bartolo

He said it was a shame that certain people had attempted to “politicise” the film awards when they were a celebration of the creative industry and building a roadmap for its future success. 

“The Labour Party has promised €2 million in funding for Screen Malta, which is a commitment to giving artists a clear indication of where we want to take the local film industry," he added.

Last week the Malta Film Commission rejected a Freedom of Information request from Times of Malta for details on the cost of the film awards as well as invoices related to the Malta Film Week.

The commission said the data was “still being compiled”, well over a month after the event was held. 

Days before the awards ceremony, Film Commissioner Johann Grech had refused to divulge whether the cost had gone over the assigned budget. 

The makers of international award-winning films Luzzu and Simshar were among those who boycotted the event.

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola has asked the National Audit Office to investigate the matter.




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