Renowned film producer Pierre Ellul has publicly slammed the use of public finds to fund a private business venture on a new film on the Sette Giugno events.
Through a Facebook post, Pierre Ellul, sarcastically thanked the government on gifting €500,000 of taxpayers’ money to selected producers “while the rest of us mortals have to jump through all the hoops and processes”.
The film titled Just Noise [Storbju] features renowned actors Harvey Keitel and Malcolm McDowell, among others.
Mr Ellul, who was behind the controversial film Dear Dom, a feature film focusing on the life of former fiery Labour Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, said:
“Thank you, especially the government, who gave Jean Pierre Magro a lovely handout of €500,000 (that we know of) while the rest of us mortals have to jump through all the hoops and processes.
“While the (film) Commissioner Johann Grech has to constantly battle to get more funds, the Arts Council enters into ‘business’ with Jean Pierre Magro handing over a sweet gift of €500,000.
“Indeed, in George Orwell’s words, some animals are more equal than others,” Mr Ellul said, sarcastically.
The government, through the Film Commissioner, is refusing to give details on how the funds have been made available to private producers, without any form of competition, transparency and accountability.
Mr Ellul’s statement follows an official declaration made by the Malta Producers’ Association, which raised suspicions on how the film was funded by the government.
Government is refusing to give details on how the funds have been made available
It said the process used raised a lot of serious questions, including the possibility of a breach of EU state aid rules.
The Arts Council, on the initiative of its chairman, Albert Marshall, entered into business with a private film company, pumping the money into the film without any formal call or competition offered to other film producers.
The council’s business partners in Just Noise Ltd are Jean Pierre Magro – who served as a consultant to One TV chairman Jason Micallef, Aaron Briffa, a former employee of One TV, and Pedja Miletic.
Mr Marshall admitted there was no call and this was a “business deal” following a proposal made by the producers.
The Malta Film Commission, falling under the direction of Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, is refusing to give any details.
Questions sent to Film Commissioner Johann Grech – a former employee at the Prime Minister’s probate secretariat – earlier this month, remained unanswered.
Mr Grech was asked to state if any funds administered by his commission were allocated to the production, the stipulated figure and whether the allocation followed ‘usual’ channels.
Mr Grech was also asked to give a list of the members of the film fund evaluators and if Mr Marshall was one of the evaluators.
Normally, the Malta Film Fund issues a public call, twice a year, for the allocation of public funds to help the local film industry.