Grech’s film festival costs exceed more than two years of local industry funding

Johann Grech’s extravagant film festival last summer, supposedly to celebrate local film talent, has ended up costing almost three times more than all the public funds dedicated to local producers over more than two years.

While, according to a few details included in a government report, Grech managed to spend almost €4 million of public funds over the five-day festival, only €1.5 million was made available for the local film industry over the last two and a half years.

Blasting the latest ‘study’ by the government to try to justify Grech’s latest spending spree, former film commissioner Oliver Mallia did not mince his words about the latest scandal associated with Grech.

“To put things into perspective, this expenditure (€3.8 million on the festival) exceeds by €2.3 million the total public funding accessible to all local filmmakers over the past 27 months for film and TV productions – the very industry this ‘film festival’ claimed to celebrate,” Mallia wrote in a scathing social media post.

“Moreover, this amount surpasses the 2023 annual budgets of several other public agencies, including the Arts Council, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, and even the combined budget of all national festivals organised by Festivals Malta.”

Mallia also compared Grech’s glitzy festival to its former and humbler Valletta Film Festival organised successfully until 2019.

He said that while the Valletta Festival showcased more films than the recent one organised by Grech, in 2019, it attracted 10,000 patrons who happily paid to view the screenings. The ten-day festival used to cost €275,000 to organise, with just €50,000 coming from public coffers.

On the other hand, according to the government’s report authored by audit firm RSM, Grech’s €3.8 million festival attracted 2,847 patrons who signed up for the free viewing. It is unclear how many people actually turned up to watch the films.

After months of trying to hide Grech’s latest extravagant costs on the film festival, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo tabled in parliament the RSM report on the economic impact of last year’s festival – shortly before the publication of the Sofia inquiry in what seems to have been a move to bury bad news.

The report states that Grech spent almost €4 million in five days without mentioning how these costs were spent, which contractors provided their services, and who got the chunk of public funds.

At the same time, the Labour Party auditors concluded that the festival had an economic impact of some €7 million without stating how they arrived at this conclusion or on what assessment they based these figures.

The RSM report was ignored by most media, while local film producers dismissed its conclusions.

The former film commissioner called the RSM ‘study’ a “pie in the sky”.

The latest spending spree by Grech has reignited calls for his sacking and forms part of a series of scandals regarding his extravagant spending of public funds without accountability.

The Malta Film Producers Associations and other members of the local industry have been calling for Grech’s dismissal for years.

The latest report comes days after news emerged that Grech paid British comedian David Walliams €120,000 to present a show in 2022.

Back then, Grech had once again spent millions on a glitzy spectacle, with most of the funds going to the same contractors that had organised Labour’s electoral campaign just a few weeks later.

The Shift has lately revealed how, despite all this criticism, Prime Minister Robert Abela gave Grech a €90,000 increase last year, pushing his annual pay packet to over €150,000.

Until 2015, Grech was disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s marketing manager and had no experience or knowledge of the film industry.

                           

Sign up to our newsletter

Stay in the know

Get special updates directly in your inbox
Don't worry we do not spam
                           
                               
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mick
Mick
1 month ago

An incompetent of the worst kind who believes he is a legend in his own lifetime. Alas this may be true as without doubt he is the most arrogant money wasting bastard in the LP Mafia cohort.

Leonard Schembri
Leonard Schembri
1 month ago

Who will investigate these people when the right time comes?

Charles Vassallo
Charles Vassallo
1 month ago

That was no Film Festival, it was an unnecessary and extravagant gala dinner with an afterthought for a dime a dozen lousy Mediteranne film festival.

Free flights for the visitors, free 4/5 star lodgings, free lavish gala dinner for foreigners and local friends of friends, a comedian as a host being paid tens of thousands of Euro for a couple of hours, together with a price tag , costing us, the tax payers nearly 4 bloody million Euro to host a four day lame festival.

Meanwhile our Local talented film makers are left like mongrels, sniffing and begging for titbits from this corrupt and useless stooge.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Trid tkun vera ma tistħix u bla kuxjenza biex tqatta’ l-ġranet tixxala u tiffanga minn fuq dahar il-poplu. X’mingħalih li hu dan ir-raġel?

Jonathan Bianco
Jonathan Bianco
1 month ago

Well every business is subject to an audit trail investigation if there are any fishy circumstances. However here, no audit trail is investigated, just as no audit trail is investigated in the Nicklaus lease agreement or any other Govt. contract. It is the best tool available to discover fraud, however a tool seemingly only used when an ordinary citizen is involved.

Simon Camilleri
Simon Camilleri
1 month ago

And? Nobody’s going to do anything.

carmelo borg
1 month ago

DAN QED JİEKOL WAHDU ????????
GHANDİ DUBJU

Jonathan Bianco
Jonathan Bianco
1 month ago

Transparency is essential. Allow an audit trail to be done, not just on this deal but on every single deal that any govt does.

Related Stories

Comino deckchairs: minister issues third extension without tender
Aqra bil-Malti Despite promising to take action, Tourism Minister
Government silent on costs of new Visit Malta Cup in London
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo and Malta Tourism Authority CEO

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo