Agora, the movie shot in Malta in 2008, has won seven Goya Awards at a ceremony in Madrid, further promoting the island's film servicing industry.

The historical drama, the first to be shot entirely in Malta, between March and June 2008, was nominated for 13 of the Spanish film awards, the equivalent of the Oscars.

Agora, which directly injected €17.5 million into the economy, also offered local crew the opportunity to occupy positions normally taken up by foreigners for the first time. Moreover, an unprecedented three of the principal actors were Maltese.

Several of the Goya Award winners referred to Malta in their acceptance speeches and thanked the local crew for their work, said Malta Film Commissioner Luisa Bonello.

"The fact that Malta's crew was praised and thanked in front of the entire Spanish film industry is testament to their excellent work and contribution to the production as well as a result of their progress in general," she said.

"This also served as an important recognition of the level of involvement of Malta's film servicing sector in what was a complex, large-scale production," she added.

The event, aired on Television Espanola, was the most watched ceremony ever, with 26.4 per cent of the audience share and 4.65 million viewers, over a million more than last year.

The awards were for original screenplay, cinematography, production design, costume design, make-up and hair, line production and special effects.

Malta had fought off stiff competition from Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco to secure the Spanish production, financed by Spanish money, Ms Bonello said.

The Film Commission is in touch with several potential productions for this year, including returning clients. An Italian television production is set to shoot next month and currently filming is The Devil's Double, based on the book by Latif Yahia, who was the double of Saddam Hussein's sadistic son Uday during the dictator's reign.

India, which has the largest film industry in the world, is another market the Film Commission is targeting.


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