The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

Internationalising our culture

Owen Bonnici Friday, 6 September 2019, 08:13 Last update: about 15 days ago

This week we had the pleasure to announce the start of a local production with local established actors, commemorating local history, starring alongside Hollywood legends Harvey Keitel and Malcolm McDowell. Just Noise is Malta’s long awaited moment to share its story the world, about how a small Mediterranean island fought for more liberty.

I reiterate that this is one of the priorities that my team and I have been working on in the cultural field – putting Malta on the map with local artists proudly sharing their expertise with their foreign counterparts. Giving local talent an opportunity to mingle, showcase and in this case perform with internationally acclaimed artists. Apart from that, this initiative will greatly assist in the promotion of the Maltese Islands.

Just Noise (Storbju) begins shooting in just under two weeks. Inspired by the June riots of 1919, the film is directed by Davide Ferrario (After Midnight, We all Fall Down) and written by Jean Pierre Magro (Bulgarian Rhapsody).

We all know the happenings surrounding the 1919 riots. Crippled by years of austerity, soaring unemployment and rising prices, an exhausted Maltese population rose to challenge the ugly situation prevalent in those times. A day of protest was called on the 7th of June 1919. Thousands of hungry, destitute and hopeful men descended upon the city to demand much needed reforms. Unfortunately, the protests turned violent. The British flag was torn down from many government buildings, numerous edifices were looted and then burnt, and British troops were immediately deployed to "restore peace and order."

The British hid the story from the public and tried to cancel out any traces of what happened. Over 115 Maltese citizens, mostly teenagers, were blamed for the violence and sentenced to hard labour.

This year we commemorated the centenary from these fateful events with a proper calendar of activities taken care of by the Ministry’s Fondazzjoni Ċelebrazzjonijiet Nazzjonali, including the show VII (Sette), the publication of a book about the riots, and we had also hinted about this production.

The film is being produced by Aaron Briffa, Pedja Miletic and Jean Pierre Magro, with a Maltese cast of familiar faces including Godwin Scerri, Ryan Debattista, Jane Marshall, Narcy Calamatta, Marc Caboudain, Peter Galea, Jesmond Mizzi and Erica Muscat.

Award-winning director at the helm of the project Davide Ferrario exclaimed that this film is a great opportunity for foreigners to understand Malta and the Maltese even more and said that while this is intrinsically a Maltese story, he also feels that this is a universal story.

The film is executively produced by Roland Joffe, Shayne Putzlocher and Sara Shaak and is scheduled for release in the fall of 2020 with worldwide distribution rights acquired by Electric Entertainment, the Los Angeles-based production, distribution and post-production company.

We also note that the Tourism Minister Dr Konrad Mizzi and Konstantin Ishkhanov from the European Foundation for the Support of Culture have been instrumental in supporting this film from the very beginning.

It makes us deeply honoured to be part of this project. Film is of crucial importance for us as it is a reflection of society, both present and past. I feel it is my duty to support such an important initiative and wish the team all the best possible. I urge the Maltese population to rally behind this production and to help in any way possible.

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An intriguing exhibition which I inaugurated yesterday is currently being held at another gem of our rich history, the imposing Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu - The Inquisitor’s Porcelain in 18th Century Malta.

Part of our cultural strategy is to ensure that our community has access to our history and heritage, which in turn have shaped us as a country and our identity as well and through such initiatives we are ensuring that this is indeed possible.

The exhibition sheds light on our country’s historical aspects that may not be very well known, as we explore the Inquisitor’s life through porcelain, which was deemed as a material of the elite back in the 18th century.

This is an innovative attempt at presenting archaeological materials recovered during the 1998 excavation of a cess-pit and from later recoveries in the prison area. It brings together the disciplines of archaeology, art history and of historical anthropology and specifically highlights a group of early porcelain – a privileged group of artefacts which allows us to explore the culturally refined habitus characteristic of the Inquisitor’s establishment in 18th century Malta.

Research and analysis of these findings have made it possible to exhibit for the first time a new typology of historical information for the Inquisitor’s Palace – its archaeological material culture. In the 18th century porcelain was synonymous with elite dining habits and was kept in the residences of the powerful, including at the Inquisitor’s Palace.

The Inquisitor’s Porcelain in 18th Century Malta is part of an ongoing study which will result in a better understanding of the Inquisitorial establishment in Malta. The exhibition will be open to the public until 31st December 2019. Admission is included in the museum’s regular ticket price.

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Another aspect of our culture is music. This week, together with HE the President, we announced a free open-air concert but also a Malta Philharmonic Orchestra membership card. MPOpening Notes is the season-launch concert, being held in collaboration with the Valletta Cultural Agency under the patronage of the President of Malta.

The scheme launched by MPO is aimed to entice more people to attend activities organized by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, and at the same time, by means of an MPO membership card, the public will be helping the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation (MCCFF) with a financial contribution to further the work this Foundation is carrying out with the most vulnerable in our society. The revamped MPO Membership Scheme offers patrons the opportunity to become part of Malta’s national musical ensemble for €10 whilst benefiting from limited tickets for €1 and 50% discounts. Proceeds from the Loyalty Card will go entirely towards the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation.

I laud this collaboration as it continues to strengthen public outreach for cultural and artistic events of this nature, especially for such a good cause.

MPOpening Notes concert will be held this evening at St George’s Square at 20:30. While entrance is free of charge, seating is available on a first-come first-serve basis.

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