A redacted report on the generous cash rebate for film productions has yet to be released despite promises that it would be published last week.

The same is true for a detailed report on the costs of the lavish Mediterrane Film Festival which should have been published by the end of September.

On September 29, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo announced that a report proving the economic benefits of Malta’s cash rebate scheme would be published within the “coming days”.

However, more than two weeks later, the report has yet to see the light of day.

In August, Times of Malta revealed that Ridley Scott’s latest Maltese shoot, a sequel to Gladiator, will receive just under €47 million in taxpayer money, breaking the record for the biggest state aid to cinema in the EU.

The revelation caused quite a stir among the public and, several weeks later, a press conference held by Bartolo and Film Commissioner Johann Grech saw the ministry dig its heels into the cash rebate’s alleged benefits.

For every €1 spent in cash rebates for film productions, the Maltese economy gained €3, Grech and Bartolo claimed, explaining that an economists’ study confirms this as fact.

At the time, the pair refused to publish the document.

Two weeks later, Bartolo promised to publish a redacted version of the report within the coming days after listening to legal advice.

Questions have been sent to the Film Commission and the Tourism Ministry but, as of writing, both have yet to reply.

"Film industry insiders told Times of Malta that there may be cause for concern over the Film Commission’s loose purse strings"

In July, Bartolo made similar promises about the release of a separate report, this time regarding the Mediterrane Film Festival which was criticised for its excessive expenditure.

Five-star hotels, yacht trips, gala 

The festival saw actors and producers flown to Malta, put up in five-star hotels and treated to yacht trips and a black-tie gala film awards event at Fort Manoel hosted by British author and comedian David Walliams.

While insiders claim the cost of the festival far surpasses €1 million, Bartolo defended the luxurious event at the beginning of July yet refused to reveal its budget.

“Those who are saying that this was wasteful have absolutely no idea how the film industry works and have no vision for it,” he said at the time, promising to have the report completed and published within three months.

Three months and two weeks later, the festival’s budget remains a mystery.

Film industry insiders told Times of Malta that there may be cause for concern over the Film Commission’s loose purse strings.

Following the controversial Malta Film Awards in January, which were criticised for excessive spending, Bartolo also promised to publish figures on the government’s expenses for the event.

But, like the others after it, he never did.

Instead, a €1.3 million figure was published which covered the entire film week – including masterclasses and events outside of the awards night.

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