Luzzu: The award-winning Film by Maltese Film-maker Alex Camilleri
Luzzu (2021), the film that brought malta to the big screen like we have never seen it before, was directed by Maltese-American film-maker Alex Camilleri, who also happens to be the film’s editor and writer. The authentic Maltese film with English subtitles premiered to wide acclaim at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. The story revolves around Jesmark, a Maltese fisherman who enters Malta’s black-market fishing industry to support his wife and newborn son, who requires expensive medical treatment due to his growth impediment.
What’s a luzzu?
The Maltese luzzu is that colourful boat you see in seaside villages, particularly Marsaxlokk, and is essentially a traditional fishing boat. Tracing back to the time of the ancient Phoenicians, it is among the oldest traditions of the country. It is even one of the symbols connected to the Maltese Islands.
Back to the film…
Luzzu world-premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (2021) and is Alex Camilleri’s feature debut as well as the first Maltese feature to compete in a major international film festival. Critics acknowledged it for the poignant performances delivered by real fishermen who were non-actors as well as experienced actors in the main roles. This is where lead Jesmark Scicluna, an actual fisherman, won the Special Jury Award for acting. This mark his very first acting role as he had never acted a day in his life before Camilleri had spotted him fishing in Għar Lapsi with his cousin David Scicluna, who also stars in the film. The movie was produced by Rebecca Anastasi, Ramin Bahrani (The White Tiger, 99 Homes), Alex Camilleri, and Oliver Mallia.
“It’s been incredibly gratifying to see the response to Luzzu – while the setting of Malta is unique, the theme of weighing tradition against survival is universal,” Alex Camilleri.
Kino Lorber acquired North American rights to Luzzu and it was eventually also sold to other major territories, including the U.K. (Peccadillo), France (Epicentre), China (Hugoeast), Spain (Wanda), Scandinavia (Edge), Portugal (Legendmain), Greece (Weirdwave), former Yugoslavia (Kino Mediteran), and Eastern Europe (HBO).
“Nothing is more exciting than to see the emergence of a new filmmaking talent, and I suspect Luzzu is just the first of many great things to come from Alex Camilleri.” – Wendy Lidell (Kino Lorber’s senior VP).
“Luzzu shimmers with a heart and humanity that is reminiscent of the Dardenne brothers and Vittorio De Sica, awash with the beautiful colours of the Maltese seaside and telling a universal story that will touch anyone who sees it.” – Wendy Lidell (Kino Lorber’s senior VP).
Take an emotional and thought-provoking ride with Jesmark as he struggles to make ends meet and witnesses his way of life in danger, due to a challenging fishing sector and a stagnant environment. It is not only his livelihood, but also a family heritage passed down through generations. It’s a film that fuels appreciation for what’s traditional and pity for its loss.
Stream Luzzu by renting or purchasing it on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play Movies, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Apple TV, Curzon Home Cinema, and BFI Player.