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The Valletta Film Festival this year marks 4 years of entertainment and economic stimulus for the capital city, another important international event to adorn European City of Culture. The annual event has become a local institution and a valued Valletta asset, which is why The Phoenicia decided to become part of the sponsorship grouping as well as a participant in the festival as a supporter of local art and culture.
The festival brought in over 10,000 fans last year, up from 3,000 at the inaugural event. The Phoenicia caught up with one of the festival founders, the dynamic and strong-willed Rebecca Anastasi, herself a talented film-industry veteran and lecturer in film studies at the University of Malta. Rebecca has worked on many movies including big titles such as Munich, Troy, Kontiki, Styx and Agora.
Rebecca explains that the festival was first conceived to promote the idea of Malta filmmakers and to encourage the local film-making community rub shoulders with their peers from elsewhere. Cross-fertilisation, she believes, will produce a “can-do” mentality amongst local film-makers. The scope of the festival was to show films that local film-makers can produce themselves.
The other key part of the concept for the Valletta Film Festival was audience development, which has been remarkably successful, with audiences growing every year exponentially. The mix between local and international participation is quite evenly balanced at around 50:50.
More than 40 fiction, documentary and short films will have their Maltese premiers during this year’s festival in various venues around the capital including flagship venue for all premieres Pjazza Teatru Rjal, the former opera house and now a spectacular open-air venue, part of the Renzo Piano design for the city’s cultural renewal. A total of seven feature films will compete for five Triton awards adjudicated by an international jury. The Triton Fountain graces the entrance to Valletta next to The Phoenicia, after a multi-million restoration. The awards are Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Performance, Best Cinematographer and Best Screenplay; and any of them might win the coveted Valletta Film Festival Audience Award
Seven documentaries compete for Best Documentary and over 24 short films are listed for the Best Short Film Prize. Award winners will be announced at the closing ceremony on Saturday 16th June.
Venues scattered across the UNESCO World Heritage City all week long burst with smiles, laughs, tears and animated conversations, the festival has cultivated a community of movie lovers, who engage in animated and sincere dialogue to share ideas about film-making, storytelling, characters, setting, genre, crew, actors, scenes, and the broad range of emotions that go with them.
Setting plays an important role in many films and Malta has doubled for every part of the Mediterranean in a wide-range of films, it’s an impressive setting for the Valletta Film Festival indeed with it’s 320 monuments, all within an area of 55 ha, making it one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world, offering scenery so beautiful that many people who come here for the film festival return at other times of the year for the pristine views of the world’s only Grand Harbour and the delicious food, wine and beer served from dozens of charming restaurants that have sprung up over the last 3 or 4 years.
Valletta Film Festival’s celebration of film as an art form appears very strong. Film enthusiasts and local businesses collaborate to ensure the festival will continue to grow, continue to attract artists who make movies and audiences who spend money. The festival has become a solid pillar of Valletta’s culture and a boon to the tourism segment of our country’s economy.
Throughout the years The Phoenicia has played host to many stars of the silver screen including Alec Guiness, Gerard Depardieu, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi and Joaquin Phoenix, Antonio Banderas, Arnold Schwarzenegger and writer Andrew Morton, amongst others. And in homage to those guests The Phoenicia will be screening a number of silent shorts in The Knights Room, re-connecting with its Art Deco roots, as a new ingredient in the film festival.
The Valletta Film Festival will open to the public on Friday 8 June 2018 and will run until Sunday 17 June.

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