Findings of film commission operational review kept under wraps, producers say

The Malta Producers Association questioned why the findings of an operational review on the shortcomings of the Malta Film Commission and the wrongdoings of film commissioner Johann Grech were still being kept under wraps, more than a month after its conclusion.

The review was commissioned by the Tourism Ministry last March in the wake of an investigation by The Shift, which concluded that Grech was actively pushing 7 select local producers when promoting Malta to foreign productions.

The MPA had called for Grech’s resignation and asked for a meeting with Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, who refused to remove or suspend Grech but informed the association that it would carry out an operational review.

RSM was tasked with carrying out the review, and the MPA held two meetings with the audit firm in which they reiterated their concerns about Grech and highlighted other shortcomings.

The association said that while it was evident that the review was a delaying tactic, it was impossible for it not to acknowledge that wrongdoing took place in the face of stark facts.

But it questioned why it was taking the government so long to publish the review, noting that the ministry’s permanent secretary had promised the MPA a copy, only for the association’s reminders to be ignored.

It recalled Farrugia Portelli’s pledge to immediately remove anyone found to have committed wrongdoing. But it added that the evidence of wrongdoing has been publicly available for over 6 months, and that verifying it should not take longer than an hour, questioning the lack of action.

The association emphasised that the industry was suffering increasing reputational damage, and that the international sector it depended on was not forgiving, before expressing hope that the minister would find the courage required to do the right thing swiftly.