As Malta continues to serve as a backdrop for many high profile international films, Maltese film makers are reaching out and promoting local stories through film.
In fact, a short Maltese language film called ‘Sħab’ (To My Little Turtle), by the award winning production company Shadeena Films, will shortly be shown at this year’s Cannes Short Film Corner (CSFC). The production, which is 15 minutes long, is only the second project funded by the Malta Film Fund to make it into this highly-competitive market, and the only Maltese entry to make it into this year’s CSFC.
Image: Cast and Crew
“This project has been in the pipeline since 2011 and we’re very excited to finally be in a position to promote it,” says Martin Bonniċi, the film’s producer and director. “It was a difficult project on various levels, and we couldn’t have made it this far without our commercial partners: Turbulence Films (CH), Pasmania Entertainment (CH) and Panalight Nexos Mediterranean (MT), as well as the European Short Pitch, Invex Malta and the Malta Film Fund.”
‘Sħab’ is a Maltese/Swiss co-produced story about what happens to those who have been left behind after a death. The film introduces us to an old farmer, Joe, (played by Joe Cortis) who is mourning the passing of his wife (Cettina Scicluna) while still trying to fulfil her life-long wish of rising above the clouds and looking down on the surrounding white. He does this on their anniversary, as his own struggles and thoughts of regret push him to take a leap of faith. Local actors Peter Galea and Jules Darville complete the film’s small cast.
This project was developed by Martin Bonniċi and Chris Galea at the 2011 edition of the European Short Pitch, a short-film development and co-production workshop run by Nisi-Masa – a non-profit organisation promoting young professionals in the European film making industry. To-date, this remains the only Maltese project to be accepted to this annual event.
Image: Left, Guzeppi (Joe Cortis) and right, Daniel (Jules Darville)
“Once that happened, the project continued to snowball,” explains Bonniċi. “We engaged the services of Cassi Camilleri, a local writer and graduate of Edinburgh Napier University, who took on the script writing duties, and sourced other professionals to join the team.”
In 2013, Shadeena Films received a grant from the Malta Film Fund providing the company with 35 per cent of the required financing. The rest of the budget came through an investment from the Swiss co-producers and Panalight Nexos Mediterranean, who together provided around 15 per cent of the budget. The remaining 50 per cent of the funding was provided by the film company, who believed it was important to ensure that all the personnel involved were paid for their work. Finally, a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo raised a small sum to cover some of the marketing of the project.
Although Shadeena Films is based in Valletta, the short film was entirely shot in Gozo. The film then entered an extended post-production period, which saw the editing and visual-effects completed in Malta and handled mostly by talent at Shadeena. The colour-grading then took place in Los Angeles thanks to Turbulence Films.
Image: Left, Robert (Peter Galea) and right, Guzeppi (Joe Cortis)
“Unfortunately, Maltese films rarely make it into larger markets and festivals, but we think of it as an important step in promoting our young industry,” continues Bonniċi. “The Malta Film Fund has given Maltese film makers new opportunities to reach an international level of production, but it is then up to the film makers to push themselves and their products abroad.
“We are proud to have distribution agreements with reputable firms for a number of our short films. Meanwhile, at the Cannes Short Film Corner and Film Market, we will strive to establish stronger relationships that will bring our next projects to life and enable more Maltese language features to be screened around the world,” Bonniċi concludes.
For more information please visit www.shadeena.com