‘Amazing’ Or ‘Ħamallu’? Malta reacts to the first edition of the Film Awards

The inaugural Malta Film Awards took place last night – and Malta is divided over what to make of the event.

While some segments of the Maltese film industry praised the event for acknowledging the work of the actors, producers and other crew members of local productions, other people noticed that some of the biggest names in Maltese cinema were absent from the show.

And it’s no wonder since many had decided to boycott it because of the money spent on the show.

Filmmakers, people involved in the arts scene and government officials all had something to say about last night’s show

1. Malta Tourism Authority Projects Manager Lionel Gerada praised the event, calling it an “incredible spectacle”.

2. And presenter Chris Spiteri noted the differing reactions to the show, urging artists to work together in the future if the sector had any hope of thriving.

3. MTA’s Noel Zarb said the show celebrated “100 years of movie history.”

4. And director Steven Dalli couldn’t hide his excitement about the awards show, saying:

“I salute all my friends and people in this industry, I know how hard they struggle every day. Only if we stick together can we continue to thrive and achieve great results both in local and international, nominated or not, awarded or not, we are all part of this celebration today.

5. Former film commissioner Oliver Mallia shared an image from the show alongside an image from the 2019 Icelandic Film Awards, noting how “amazing” the contrast between the two shows was.

“The Malta stage appears to be in competition to win the Oscars and the other is a simple stage with limited lighting, no statues or orchestra and no foreign guest.”

“However, the contrasts are not just limited to the choice of location and scene.”

“Unlike Malta, Iceland actually has a film industry and a real reason to celebrate not every hundred years but every year. The small country produces around 10 feature films a year and exports many TV series. Various Icelandic films are constantly selected and awarded at prestigious film festivals – to the awards that really matter.

“The country also offers cash rebate and attracts many foreign productions to its land, but they mostly care about their own stories and therefore they spend public money carefully and mainly to produce their own films.”

“I hope that after the madness of this evening, a lesson will be learned.”

6. The director of Simshar, Rebecca Cremona, explained why she decided not to participate in the show of the evening.

“We felt the need to raise voices and call on the authorities to prioritize action.”

7. So did director Abigail Mallia, who listed a number of local productions that were not included in the award show, including Deceduti, Evangelisti, Merjen, Miraklu and Limestone Cowboy.

8. Brikkuni singer Mario Vella called out some of the awards and who they were awarded to, saying the show confirmed just how much Malta really is made up of “ħamalli” (chavs).

9. And Kaxxaturi’s Jon Mallia noted that the only thing the awards show did well was to cast British host David Walliams.

10. Producer Howard Keith Debono entered the discussion to point out that a large part of the public was not following the COVID-19 restrictions – restrictions that have caused major problems for event organizers over the past few months and years.

The Malta Film Awards took place at the Mediterranean Conference Center and reportedly cost around €400,000. You can find the full list of last night’s winners by following this link.

How did you react to the Malta Film Awards?

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Johnathan is an award-winning Maltese journalist who covers social justice, politics, minority issues, music and food. Follow him @supreofficialmt on Instagram and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]