Sunday, March 20, 2022


A Maltese film was intriguing.  It turned out to be more interesting than thought when researching.  Malta is a small island closer to Africa than Europe, but nonetheless a member of the European Union.  The film won several festival awards and many other nominations.  Not aware of any streaming services offering this film, but as a festival winner you may well find as I did a copy at your local library.

 A way of life is being challenged.  Not all the facts are explained, but a small fisherman finds it very difficult to find enough fish to support his wife and son and to bring it to a crisis his boat which is like fa amily heirloom needs a repair.  His mother in law belittles him. and his wife Denise is worried  He learns of illegal fishing and although he is repulsed he ends up getting involved.

The modern world has imposed itself on all of us.  For a small fishing boat they have to compete against gigantic fishing vessels that gobble up huge amounts of fish for a hungry world.  Authorities notice that certain species of fish, such as swordfish are approaching extinction and need to be protected.  A problem for some is an opportunity for others, even if they might be illegal.  Jesmark in the end decides to cast himself with the illegals.  One rationalization was that with global warming there would be no fish in twenty years.

Ship of Theseus is referred to at one point when Jesmark reflects that the boat he inherited from his father had had a long history of repair.  In effect it was no longer the original boat or was it?  Another film pondered this question and applied to transplants.  Check it out:

Alex Camilleri, director, writer, editor and producer is a Maltese, but now lives in New York City.  His first credit is as a sound editor for a short film in 2011.  He edited several shorts winning an award with the 63rd Cannes Film Festival.  In 2016 he was selected for Sundance Institute Editing Residency.  He also has directed, produced and written scripts.  He expressed the view that films like "Luzzu" can demonstrate that specific stories that can project the most universal of ideas and emotions that act through international boundaries.

There are 3 other producers.

Rebecca Asastasi got her start with "Troy" (2004) as a set production assistant for filming in Malta.  She was a production assistant for "Munich" (2005), "The Da Vinci Code" (2006), as prodution co-ordinator for "Agora" (2009), 8 episodes of "Game of Thrones" (2011) and "Kon-tiki" (2012).  Asked about how a small country like Malta could develop a film industry had some interesting points.  Like many small countries, Malta has theatres which mostly show foreign films and has noticed that other small countries tend to do the same.  Most of the foreign films are Hollywood which cater to a popularity which small countries cannot compete on budget or expertise.  What they can do is to promote a wider variety of films through film festivals so that the local populations can better appreciate a greater diversity.

Ramin Bahrani once caught the attention of Roger Ebert who declared him one of the best director of the 2000's.  Born in the United States with Iranian immigrant parents.  He studied film making in Iran and the Columbia Univesity School of the Arts where he later became Professor of Directing.  He has also been producer, director, writer and editor for such films as  "Chop Shop" (2007--which got Ebert's attention), "Goodbye Solo" (2008), "99 Homes" (2014) and "The White Tiger" (2021).  Check:

Oliver Mallia had been involved as producer, director and writer for a tv. series, "The Art of Malta" (2018).  He was also a production manager for "Agora" (2009) and a unit production manager for 6 episodes of "The Game of Thrones" (2011).  He is is a director for the Malta Film Commission.

Jon Natchez composed the music.  An American, he graduated from Harvard University with a major in cultural studies, music and performance in 1999.  He performed music for the "The Skeleton Twins" ((2014).  He has 17 credits for composing films.  In 2018 as a member of the War on Drugs won a Grammy Award.   

Leo Lefvre handled the cinematography which for him was his first experience filming on a boat.  He is French born and Belgian based.  Has done a lot of music videos.  Early in his career he was a camera assistant for "The Angels' Share" (2012) where he credits director Ken Loach advancing his film knowledge.

The lead actor Jesmark Scicluna, is an actual fisherman and previously trained as actor.  He won an acting award at the Sundance Film Festival for this role.  This was his first adventure in films, but has since been involved with American film "Untitled Project Icon

 Frida Cauchi played the mother-in-law.  She is fluent in Maltese, English and Italian and has played roles in each language.

Filip Sertic, a Croatian actor who played a fish dealer.  In addition to Croatian movies he has also appeared in English speaking roles. 

Many of the actors were untrained, but involved in the fishing trade to hell add authenticity.

Trying to understand the rest of the world is a never ending pursuit which means there are always new insights to uncover.  With this film, one realizes that not only are we all linked, but we each have much to teach each other.

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