Money from Malta’s “thriving” foreign film servicing industry should be channelled into local productions that currently must make do with a “meagre” €1 million fund, the chair of Arts Council Malta has said.

Albert Marshall said the current film fund needs to “at least” be tripled to €3 million for Maltese indigenous films to thrive in parallel with the foreign movie industry.

“In order to make the situation work, we need closer cooperation between the two ministries: the tourism ministry, that is responsible for the thriving servicing industry which is attracting foreign films to Malta, and the culture ministry which, through Arts Council Malta, is responsible for the indigenous film industry,” he said adding that, at the moment, the collaboration between the two is “not enough”.

He was speaking to Times of Malta amid an ongoing row over the cost of the Mediterrane Film Festival, an event aimed at marketing Malta to foreign productions, while local producers complain of a lack of access to government funding.

The responsibility for distributing funds to the local Maltese film industry was removed from the film commission and handed to Arts Council Malta in January.

The government has pledged to double the funds for the local industry to €2 million by the end of this legislature. But Marshall thinks more is needed given that “film production is very expensive”.

“Given the amounts of money made by the servicing industry, it is only fair that some of that income is channelled into the local industry to bolster the budget to at least €3 million…

“We need to agree on more synergy and cooperation between the two ministerial powers that be and come up with a creative mechanism to channel some money into indigenous films,” he said.

Last week, local film producers highlighted how taxpayers have spent almost €8 million on two film festivals while little funding is made available for local productions.

The June 2023 edition of the Mediterrane Film Festival cost €3.8 million. Film commissioner Johann Grech said this year’s festival cost around €3.9 million. At least €500,000 was also spent on a short film, starring Grech, which was shown at the beginning of the festival’s Golden Bee awards night.

The film commission boasted that 2023 was a record year for foreign investment in films, generating jobs and tens of millions of euros in direct and indirect benefits.

In reaction to the producers’ complaints, the Malta Film Commission insisted that it was no longer responsible for local film funding and its primary role is to market Malta to attract foreign film investment.

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