Many people love film, but only a select few are crazy enough to want to make films. And even a more select few do so in tiny Malta and with no budget to work from! While massive productions such as Gladiator, Munich and Troy have been filmed in part on our shores – hiring many local professionals and actors in the process – there is much less glamour surrounding the Maltese making films in Malta about the Maltese for the Maltese.
Over the past few decades, Tony Parnis has been one of the few to attempt making local films. His feature-length movie ‘Operation White Dove’, filmed on a zero-budget in the 1990s, has attained cult-movie status of a sort. His most recent movie, ‘Scrooge’ (an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic) was aired in local cinemas and on TV in late 2008 and is considered by some to be one of the best local productions ever.
Now, Tony’s passion for local film making has gone one step further. Together with TV producer and presenter Joyce Grech, a movie-lover herself who is just as passionate about local film productions, Tony got the idea of creating an international platform for local short films to compete with foreign ones, with a side aim of getting Maltese films to be seen by a wider audience.
It was this idea which drove Tony and Joyce to produce the first edition of the Malta International Television Short Film Festival. Apparently, there has never been such a festival on any TV station anywhere else in the world. So this makes it a first for Malta!
Armed with a zero budget and lots of enthusiasm, the two used the internet and fellow film lovers around the globe to attract film makers to send in their short films. The response was amazing: more than 120 films were sent for consideration from 14 countries. The majority were from Malta, of course, but, entries came as well from Europe and as far away as Canada, the USA, Australia and Zambia!
The result has been a 12-programme festival aired on the national Maltese TV station (TVM). Expert judges commented on the films they have just seen, while the public got a chance to vote for their favourite film. The programme is mainly in the Maltese but has subtitles in English.
The festival awards ceremony will be aired on TVM and on the net on 2 July, at 10pm local time (but can be seen at any time after that on the net). The level of some of the short films is very high. Malta will be proud to note that there are seven or eight local short films in the running for some of the awards … including one for Best Picture Overall.
Tony and Joyce’s experiment has been a success; it has provided an audience for often little-known film makers and it has provided also an impetus for other local film makers to produce their own short films.
Malta may not yet have its own film school, but, for now, this is probably the closest thing we’ve got. Will we see further editions of this Festival? Time will tell as finances haven’t been easy to come by. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, even when there’s not much money around