Producers silent on Sette Giugno film that got €1.5 million funding

The film's commercial performance remains a mystery


Producers of Blood on the Crown, the 2021 film about the events on Sette Giugno that received more than €1.5 million in state funding, have failed to answer questions about the film’s dismal performance after receiving taxpayer funding from three different State entities.

The film, otherwise known as Storbju or Just Noise, released two years late in 2021, received funds from the National Arts Council, the Creative Malta Film Grant, and the Film Commission’s 40% cash rebate scheme.

It tells a version of the historical facts of 7 June 1919, where riots and the shooting of four people by British soldiers led to a push for self-governance.

Despite its hype and funding of what was criticised as a propaganda film, the production was a commercial failure.

The Shift had reported how Just Noise Ltd, a company set up by the government and private local filmmakers to produce the film, is almost €2 million in debt and has not published its accounts since 2020 when auditors predicted its bankruptcy.

Film producer Jean Pierre Magro, listed as a company director of Just Noise Ltd and credited with being the film’s writer, has refused to answer questions by The Shift asking about its funding and commercial performance.

When contacted over the phone, Magro directed The Shift’s questions to his email address but did not respond to any further attempts at communication.

Funding from three state agencies

The Shift has also reported how the Malta Arts Council injected some €500,000 in taxpayer funds into the film’s production.

Council head Albert Marshall also previously refused to answer questions on the film’s performance and the process whereby the public funds were handed from the Arts Council to the film company without any tender or public call.

The Shift subsequently established that the film received funding through two other state agencies, both schemes under the care of the Malta Film Commission.

Along with the Arts Council funding, the film received more than €1.5 million in public funds.

Of those funds, almost €900,000 were awarded through the Film Commission’s 40% cash rebate scheme.

The scheme was recently in the public eye as it will see another production, Gladiator 2, to be awarded an estimated €47 million in public funds.

Funds acquired through the rebate amounting to €885,693 were approved in June 2020 and granted in March 2022.

While such schemes are considered essential for the industry, Malta’s scheme has been widely criticised by local filmmakers for sidelining local crews, allowing rebates for spending outside the local economy.

In 2019, before the film’s production, Pedja Miletic of Monolith Productions also received €120,000 from another Film Commission scheme, Creative Malta, for the production of Storbju, the film’s initial title.

Miletic is also a director of the Just Noise Ltd. company.

The Creative Malta scheme, launched in 2022, was a re-hash of the earlier Screen Malta fund, offering a pot of €600,000 to local filmmakers for ‘cultural’ productions. The Screen Malta branding has since been used as a catch-all term for the Film Commission’s incentives.

Apart from the government’s 50% shareholding, Just Noise Ltd also has Magro, the film’s scriptwriter and a former consultant to the Labour Party’s One TV, Chairman Jason Micallef, Aaron Briffa, a former employee of One TV and filmmaker Miletic, as private shareholders.

In 2019, ahead of the film’s production, The Arts Council, the Malta Film Commission and the responsible minister, Owen Bonnici, had been forewarned by the Malta Film Producers Association and individual local filmmakers that the investment was not a good idea and would put public funds at risk.

Nevertheless, at the time, Arts Council Head Albert Marshall and Film Commissioner Johann Grech defended the investment into a single production, insisting it would succeed.

Since its release, the film has not only garnered €2 million in debt but has been given just a 5.2 out of 10 rating on IMDb and is described as “bland”, “not at a professional level”.

It also lacks a single professional critic review on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the world’s leading movie review sites.


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4 months ago

From noise to omertà in no time at all …

Josette Portelli
Josette Portelli
4 months ago

Utter disgust!

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