Following the conclusion of the Mediterrane Filme Festival on Sunday, the Malta Producers’ Association (MPA) and the Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) are calling on the authorities responsible for the sector to keep their promises to local filmmakers.

During the “lavish gala” that served as the film festival’s finale, Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech proclaimed that “the growth of filmmaking in Malta has paralleled the growth of Malta as a nation.”

However, the MPA and the MEIA argued that “the conspicuous lack of Maltese films amidst the prolific workshops and screenings indicates that the success being lauded isn’t quite there.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, the two associations maintained that for local filmmakers, crew, and stories to truly and sustainably prosper, three key promises need to be fulfilled.

A cohesive national film policy

In 2022, during Malta Film Week, Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo announced the ‘Vision 2030’ strategy, which aimed to place the indigenous film industry at the forefront.

However, the MPA and MEIA point out that this strategy has not yet materialised, and several stakeholders await consultation. In the statement, they advocate for establishing a cohesive National Film Policy, especially now that the film fund has moved to Arts Council Malta (under the Ministry for Culture, while the Malta Film Commission falls under the Ministry for Tourism).

“This policy is crucial to eliminate the current fragmentation and ensure a functional ecosystem that reliably and sustainably supports, trains, and provides employment to Maltese filmmakers,” they said.

Domestic screen production fund increase

The Labour Party’s 2022 electoral pledge to increase in the budget for the national film fund, now being administered by the Arts Council Malta, to €2 million, “has not transpired.”

“Moreover,” the MPA and MEIA continued, “the fund has been either issued haphazardly or not at all over the past few years. Consequently, Maltese filmmakers have had to contend with a fundamental disadvantage in an already highly competitive and challenging landscape.”

They urged the responsible entities to provide clarity and expedite the allocation of funds, ensuring that the Maltese film industry becomes a vibrant and competitive sector, “making the significant contributions to the cultural and economic fabric of the country that it can and should make.”

Cash rebate guidelines

The associations also touched on the cash rebates offered to foreign productions to work in Malta: “As Film Commissioner Johann Grech rightly points out, cash rebates are essential to attract international productions and enable local projects in today’s global audiovisual reality.

Malta’s rebate has attracted a lot of activity; however, for the investment to actually be channelled into the local economy – and to foster and safeguard the local filmmaking community – the guidelines must be amended.”

The MPA and MEIA said that the revised cash rebate guidelines for 2024 “urgently need to be published, as the pace and nature of the industry don’t afford such delays.”

They said that industry players have been informed that the revisions are in the process of being approved by the authorities – although the nature of these revisions is not clear.

The MPA and MEIA are therefore calling on the authorities to publish the revised guidelines without further delay and to start an inclusive consultation process for 2025.

Concluding, the two associations said they have long insisted on a more integrated and systematic approach to stakeholder engagement.

“For there to truly be unity through film, dialogue between the government, local stakeholders, and experienced industry professionals is critical. The Film Commissioner proclaimed that he intends to ‘keep giving new chances for Maltese talent to shine.’ Following through on these commitments is the true test of dedication and will genuinely give us something to celebrate at the next edition of the festival.”

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