The Valletta Film Festival cancels its 2020 edition
- The Maltese event will not take place in June, owing to a lack of public support and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
Organised since 2015 by the Film Grain Foundation (FGF), the Valletta Film Festival has established itself as the most important cinema event in Malta, thus making the country part of the international film festival circuit. For the past five editions, the gathering has attracted around 50,000 viewers and has screened over 500 feature-length and short films in various locations on the islands of Malta and Gozo, including open-air and indoor venues. According to the statement that the organisers have published, the 2020 Valletta Film Festival will not run owing to a lack of sufficient public support and the COVID-19 pandemic.
It should be noted that the Valletta Film Festival is one of the few national cultural events in Malta that is organised by a private, voluntary, non-profit and non-governmental organisation. As FGF mentions, its festival team dedicates hours of voluntary work to fundraising, organising and running the festival, and “fought tooth and nail to keep it alive”. Following a common strategy for similar NGOs, the financing model was focused on securing equal portions of funding deriving from ticket sales, public grants and private sponsorship. Despite considerable interest from the private sector, the public support that the foundation received was not enough to enable it to organise the festival, and due to this shortage of finances, the team decided to freeze all of the preparatory activities for this edition. This fact, combined with the extreme situation and the restrictions imposed as a result of the virus outbreak, made it impossible to run this edition.
Cineuropa reached out to Slavko Vukanovic, the founder of the festival, who commented: “The Valletta Film Festival is one of the youngest and perhaps one of the most promising film festivals in Europe. We are facing some difficult times right now, but we believe that we will rise above all these hurdles and deliver another great edition in 2021.”
Apart from the annual event in June, the Valletta Film Festival has also represented and supported the local community of filmmakers at festivals and markets such as the Berlinale’s European Film Market, the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and Sunny Side of the Doc in France. Also, acclaimed directors and industry professionals such as Peter Greenaway, Liliana Cavani, Alan Parker, Roland Joffe, Agnieszka Holland and Béla Tarr have been invited to Valletta to host Q&A sessions and workshops.
Finally, the FGF board closed its statement by thanking the festival’s core team, its sponsors and partners, the hundreds of volunteers who offered their precious time to help with each event, and the patrons who have attended the festival all these years, promising that they will do their utmost to continue supporting independent cinema in Malta through future editions of the Valletta Film Festival.
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