Malta’s film industry is set to see a record of productions this year but more infrastructural investment and a bigger workforce are needed for the industry  to continue growing, Malta’s film commissioner said on Monday.  

Speaking at the Mediterrane Film Festival event on Malta’s 2030 film industry strategy, commissioner Johann Grech said the country saw a record of 24 productions in 2022 bringing €85 million to the economy.  

“We are on track to make this year even better,” Grech said.

“This year (we have had) over 20 (productions) already and we are not even halfway through yet,” he said.  

On the first full day of the first edition of the Mediterrane Film Festival, Grech was outlining the government’s film strategy till 2030.  

Tourism minister Clayton Bartolo said that educating primary and secondary school children in film studies and mentoring initiatives for potential filmmakers were among the key goals of the strategy. 

He said that points made in panel discussions and roundtables during the festival should further contribute to the strategy document, which is set to be published by the end of the year. 

An awards show on Friday will conclude the five-day programme.  

No estimate of costs  

Asked about the festival's costs Bartolo said figures would be published in the coming months. 

“Once the festival ends we will publish a detailed report about the cost of the festival within three months. The report will also include information about what the country is gaining in terms of value for money, not only in terms of the impact on the local industry but also in terms of PR (public relations) because of the foreign artists in Malta,” Bartolo said.  

Video: Jonathan Borg

The festival features a week of events such as conferences on education, workshops and master classes, he said, adding that the organisers had invited several international actors to give their input.  

Asked again to give an estimate on the festival’s price tag, Bartolo declined.  

“I don’t like to speculate with numbers. Once the report is available, we can present it to the media in its entirety,” he said.   

Bartolo and film commissioner Grech had faced criticism over the cost of last year’s Malta Film Week. The weeklong event cost €1.3 million.  

The Malta Film Commission, however, did not disclose the cost for the film week’s grand finale: the Malta Film Awards, denying a freedom of information request.  

Several local producers had boycotted the event in protest of the ceremony’s costs, contrasting the government’s lavish spending on the event to the €600,000 in annual aid offered to local film productions. 

Cash rebate 

Asked if Malta’s generous cash rebate for filmmakers was giving dividends to Maltese taxpayers, Bartolo said the scheme was bringing value for money. 

But he could not say how much film companies were expected to receive in cash rebates from the Malta Film Commission. 

“I still cannot tell you because last year’s cash rebates are still being calculated,” he said.  

It is a good problem to have because so many productions worked in Malta, Bartolo said.

“We have some many cash rebates to calculate that we are still calculating the rebates from the end of last year,” he said.  

Asked for a round figure, Bartolo declined to provide one.  

The tourism minister was asked the same question in January

“We will pass on the studies, we are transparent with the people’s money because we know that we are creating wealth and opportunities through this industry,” he said on Monday.

The cash rebate system was described as “the most generous cash rebate in the world” by film producer Aidan Elliot. 

The payment system, introduced in the lead-up to the last election, will see large-scale film and TV productions go from receiving up to a €200,000 cash injection to cover the cost of on-screen talent to a new maximum of €5 million. 

Producers can also apply for rebates for behind-the-lens crew. 

The maximum cash rebate for a production is 40 per cent.

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