Luzzu, directed by Alex Camilleri, will be the first Maltese feature film in the island’s history to be selected for the highly competitive World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, which will run from the 28th January to 3rd February 2021.
The film stars real fishermen, Jesmark and David Scicluna, as well as actress Michela Farrugia, in the main roles. It was produced by Rebecca Anastasi, Ramin Bahrani (The White Tiger, 99 Homes), Alex Camilleri and Oliver Mallia, and was made with the support of the Malta Film Fund and the financial incentives provided by the Malta Film Commission and the Government of Malta.
Sundance is America’s largest independent film festival. It was set up in 1978 by Robert Redford and has launched the careers of some of the world’s most highly-acclaimed filmmakers, such as the Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson.
It has also showcased some of the best in American and world cinema, including Reservoir Dogs, by Tarantino; Get Out by Jordan Peele; Whiplash by Damien Chazelle; and Mike Newell’s Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Luzzu tells the fictional story of Jesmark, a struggling fisherman, who is forced to turn his back on generations of tradition and risk everything by entering the world of black-market fishing to provide for his wife and newborn baby.
This is Camilleri’s debut feature film, which he developed over three years through in-depth research and rehearsals with this cast. Jesmark and David Scicluna were key collaborators in helping Camilleri capture an immersive look at the world of traditional fishing in Malta.
Luzzu was shot last year in and around Marsaxlokk and Birzebbuga, featuring many local faces and establishments from the area.
Sundance praises the film as a “poignant, humanistic portrait of an eclipsing way of life” with Camilleri’s neorealist approach finding “the quiet power of small moments and the underlying intensity of ordinary people pushed into untenable positions.”
The 2021 Sundance International Film Festival will run at select screenings in the United States and online for U.S. audiences, international industry, and press. Luzzu will premiere in Malta in 2021