Sundance Film Festival to screen Maltese director’s film

'Luzzu', directed by Alex Camilleri, is a homegrown film starring real fishermen in main roles

Luzzu - Alex Camilleri
Photo credit: Alex Camilleri /

Maltese-American filmmaker Alex Camilleri’s debut feature film ‘Luzzu’ will screen in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

This edition of the prestigious film festival will be happing via online screenings and satellite screens across the U.S. from the 28th January to the 3rd February.

‘Luzzu’ is described as a neo-realist drama offering a rare glimpse into Malta’s fishing industry. It tells the story of Jesmark, a struggling fisherman on the island of Malta, 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 girlfriend and newborn baby. The cast is made up of real fishermen, Jesmark Scicluna and David Scicluna, and actress Michela Farrugia .

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.”

Camilleri – who apart from being the director is also the writer, producer and editor of the film – broke the news on Instagram, thanking his “brilliant and tireless collaborators” as well as his friends and family “who supported this effort.”

‘Luzzu was produced by Rebecca Anastasi, Ramin Bahrani (The White Tiger, 99 Homes), 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.

Alex Camilleri is an alum of both the Sundance and Film Independent labs. His short film and documentary work has screened globally, winning such awards as ‘Best Student Documentary’ at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. As an editor, his work has screened at Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. Credits include ‘Keep The Change’ (Best Film & Best Director, Tribeca 2017) and ‘Blood Kin’ (Venice 2018, Sconfini), and as an Associate Editor on HBO’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’. As director and editor of commercial content, Alex has created spots for Amazon, Vogue, Intel and others.

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.

Luzzu will premiere in Malta in 2021.

More information on Luzzu and Alex Camilleri may be found here.