The Malta Independent 26 March 2019, Tuesday

An Evening with Cecil Satariano

Malta Independent Sunday, 14 June 2009, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

Alfred Stagno Navarra

The Malta Cine Circle is holding an evening to honour the memory of Cecil Satariano who gave us well-known amateur films such as Giuseppi and Katarin. The event is taking place at the British Legion Hall, 111 Melita Street, Valletta on Thursday, 18 June and starts at 7.15pm. Entrance is free and everybody is invited to attend.

Being a very influential cinematographer, Satariano was the first Maltese filmmaker who gained international recognition. He won several awards in foreign film festivals. Traditional Maltese culture, lifestyle and folklore were all ingredients that Cecil used for his films.

Satariano was born on 29 September 1930. He attended St Edward’s College. When he grew up he worked with Cable & Wireless and was a film critic with the Sunday Times of Malta and The Times of Malta.. In 1972 the government invited him to join the Board of Film Censors.

Satariano started making films in 1969 using a Super 8mm Cine Camera, the Canon 518, and later he also worked with 16mm film. In the same year he joined the Malta Cine Circle and the following year he produced his first film.

Satariano directed five films in all, I’m Furious …Red, The Beach, Ilona, Giuseppi, and Katarin, in that order. His first film won a Ten Best Trophy from the UK. Then he joined up with Ronnie Demajo, who financed his last four productions. Contacted personally, Mr Demajo described those filming days as marvellous and which he cannot forget. “It was a pleasure working with Cecil on the sets,” Mr Demajo recalls. When shooting a film Cecil wanted to produce something beautiful. He had an eye for everything, finding the perfect locations for his various themes, choosing the right characters for his films, but most important of all, he had a grand eye for shooting, choosing the right angles, close-ups, and every other detail that goes to produce a good film But perhaps Satariano’s two best known films are Giuseppi and Katarin. Giuseppi Mallia starred in the first film. The story is a true episode in Mallia’s life. He was a cripple, and when Cecil approached him to star in his film, Mallia asked him what he was talking about. When everything was explained to him, Mallia simply replied that he did not know what a film was, as he had never seen a film or entered a cinema in his life. But Giuseppi was a natural, and since Cecil Satariano was in love with his work he brought out the best of Giuseppi in the film. When director Mike Hodges was shooting Pulp in Malta he saw Mallia’s photo in the Times of Malta and insisted that he wanted him to be in his film.

Giuseppi was Satariano’s most successful film and it collected over a dozen awards from around the globe including one from Nagasaki. In London, he won a Gold Star, in the Ten Best UK. He also won awards from Cannes, Tokyo, New York, Lisbon, Hiroshima, and other countries besides grabbing the Kodak Award for best photography.

However, Satariano reached his peak with his film Katarin. Originally shot on 16mm, it was later blown up to 35mm by EMI and was released in cinemas in Malta and London. There were shows both at the Embassy in Valletta and at the Plaza in Sliema. Katarin was also shown in London’s West End. It was the first ever production by a Maltese to be shown there.

The story is about a 15-year-old country girl’s sexual awakening. Again here we have Satariano presenting a village girl and the contrasts between the simplicity and innocence of rural life, and the “modern” world of that time.

Satariano was also the author of Canon Fire, a book about the art of film making and award-winning amateur movies.

In 1956 Cecil married Eileen née Grixti. They have three children: Mark, Madeleine and Michael.

Cecil passed away on

16 December 1996.

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