Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe and jurassic world Director Colin Trevorrow was among the honorary winners of the inaugural Malta Film Awards on Saturday evening (January 29).
The event, hosted by British comedian and actor David Walliams, was held at the Mediterranean Conference Center in Valletta and was broadcast live on Television Malta. Local politicians and personalities from the Maltese arts and film industry were present.
It was a lavish spectacle, full of music and dance interludes and flashy lighting effects. Local media reported that some prominent filmmakers had refused to attend in protest at the level of public spending on awards – money they felt could have been better spent supporting local production.
Nonetheless, Malta’s Film Commissioner Johann Grech, who oversaw the event, hailed the awards as a milestone as the country strives to build a world-class film industry.
“You made this possible,” Grech told the audience in a moving closing speech. “I believed in you and you made this possible, bringing audiences and industry together to celebrate the value of film and television… We want Malta to become a stronger player on the world stage. We are on the way to creating a world-class film industry in Malta.
Winston Azzopardi’s Thriller The boat starring his son Joe Azzopardi and filmed in Malta’s famous water reservoirs won Best Film; this is the feature debut for the veteran chief producer, who has worked on several international productions shot on the island, including Troy, Murder on the Orient Express and Jurassic World: Dominion. The boat also won Best Cinematography.
by David Ferrario blood on the crown, about Malta’s struggle for independence from the British against a bloody encounter in 1919, was the most praised film of the night. It won Best Actor (Harvey Keitel), Best Director for Ferrario, and Best Screenplay, Production Design, Music, Post-Production, Hair and Makeup.
A total of 18 awards were presented at the ceremony.
Jurassic World: Dominion director Trevorrow won the Malta Film Commissioner’s top prize. Picking up his award in person, he spoke of his joy filming part of the latest installment of Universal’s dinosaur franchise on the island.
“The sequence [of the film] taking place in Malta is truly spectacular. In a few months you will be able to see it. I know that all over the world there will be children who will believe that there are dinosaurs on this island.
The night before, during a Q&A before the screening of his first feature film Security not ensured (2012), Trevorrow had revealed that a key set piece in Jurassic World: Dominion involves dinosaurs running amok on the streets of Malta. “What I’m proud of is that we shot Malta for Malta. It says Malta on the screen and everyone knows it’s here.
Scott, Crowe and Keitel were not present but recorded video messages in which they also paid tribute to Malta and its film industry.
In his speech, Scott, who shot Gladiator and white squall on the island, confirmed his intention to return to Malta with his new epic of Napoleon Bonaparte, haversack. This time around he will transform Fort Risacoli in Kalkara, Malta – which he first used in Gladiator – on the site of Bonaparte’s first victory, at the siege of Toulon in 1793.
“I can not wait to return to. Your wine and your food have improved dramatically over the past 25 years,” joked Scott, who received the Malta Film Ambassador award.
Speaking from his farm in Australia, Crowe apologized for taking 21 years to return to Malta after filming Gladiator the.
“When I first went to Malta in 1999, I had no idea how much my life was going to change,” said the actor, who received the Malta Film Industry award. “I worked there, I had friends there. I played cricket and football there. I laughed there and fell in love with Malta and knew in my heart that I would return.
Crowe finally returned late last year to shoot a 19th century boxing drama Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher on the island. The actor plays an unknown role in Daniel Graham’s period film, which stars Ray Winstone and Matt Hookings.
Crowe also remembered playing Maximus in Gladiator. “I’m sure there are people in this room tonight who have shared the experience of making this film, as Praetorian Guards, Vestal Guards, Senators or Citizens. You know what an amazing experience it was, to travel back in time on the Ridley Scott set, to be in ancient Rome, even just for the hours of the working day.
Paying tribute to ‘the kindness, humor and generosity of spirit of the Maltese people’, the Aussie star revealed Grech had offered to build him an office in the new €35million sound stage development to the Malta Film Studio so that “Maximus always has a place in Malta and that touches my heart.