An organisation representing film producers in Malta says it is “deeply concerned” over the way public money is being funnelled into a film about the 1919 Sette Giugno events without a competitive process.
The Malta Producers Association (MPA), which represents TV and film producers, was reacting to revelations that the government is spending at least €500,000 on the production of a film about the uprising.
Hollywood stars Harvey Keitel and Malcolm McDowell are set to star in the film so far titled Just Noise.
As well as investing public funds into the film without a competitive process, the government has also formed a private company with the producers.
Just Noise Ltd was formed last June with a 50/50 shareholding between the Malta Arts Council and Juggernaut Ltd, a company owned by producer Jean Pierre Magro, Pedja Miletic and Aaron Briffa.
The MPA said there were serious questions over how the funding has been channelled into the film.
“It is extremely worrying that €500,000 of public money seems to have been made available to a single production company with no competitive process and based upon a call for a script,” a spokesman said.
Contradicting a claim made by Albert Marshall, the chairman of the Arts Council, that this process was normal within the EU, the MPA called upon the authorities involved “to immediately account for their actions”.
It said authorities should “explain precisely what public funds were and are being made available to this project, the exact nature of the public private partnership and why this arrangement was never put out to tender as is required in such a venture”.
Mr Marshall, one of the directors representing the government on the company, said there had been no need for a tender or public call as this was a “business proposal”.
He admitted the council had been approached by the private company owned by Mr Magro, a former consultant to Valletta 2018 head Jason Micallef.
So far, Mr Marshall has failed to explain why other producers were not given the same chance to participate in a competitive process and whether the government funding has been cleared in terms of EU state aid rules.
Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech has also failed to answer questions on whether any other public funds have been allocated for the production of the film.
He had asked for some time to reply to questions but they remain unanswered a week later. Times of Malta asked Mr Grech, a former employee at the Office of the Prime Minister, to provide a breakdown of any public funding given to the film either from the Malta Film Fund or any other programme administered by his Commission.
Mr Grech was also asked to explain the competitive process used for the funds allocated, if any, and to give details of the evaluation committee members of the film fund.
The Malta Film Fund is a €375,000 fund aimed at help-ing out local film producers in their projects.