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In a rapidly modernizing Malta, young fisherman Jesmark (Jesmark Scicluna) contends with a newfound leak in his wooden luzzu, a small hand-crafted boat used by his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. A hard worker who is willing to hustle, Jesmark is still just barely eking out a living. He sees his livelihood—and his family tradition—vanishing before his eyes through a ruthless fishing industry and global warming that has led to diminishing harvests and a stagnating ecosystem. When he and his wife discover that their newborn son needs special medical treatment, the desperate Jesmark begins to work for an illicit black-market fishing operation. Prior to making his feature directorial debut with Luzzu, the Maltese-born Alex Camilleri served an apprenticeship as assistant editor on three movies directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ramin Bahrani, and now Bahrani serves as one of the producers on Luzzu. As in his mentor’s early features like Man Push Cart (WFF 2007) and Chop Shop (WFF 2008), Camilleri keeps the traditions of Italian neorealist cinema alive by working on authentic locations and with non-professional actors like real-life fisherman Scicluna, who won a Special Jury Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival for his performance. Luzzu harnesses reality, extracting compelling drama out of the seemingly common- place daily lives of working-class characters. “Though you’ve seen the beautiful coastal views of Malta on the big screen mined by Hollywood as dazzling locations, you’ve probably never watched a movie about the people who live there. Crafted with humanistic grace, Luzzu…contributes to filling that void” (Carlos Aguilar, Rogerebert.com). (JH)

  • Year
    2021
  • Runtime
    95 minutes
  • Language
    Maltese
  • Country
    Malta
  • Director
    Alex Camilleri
  • Producer
    Rebecca Anastasi, Ramin Bahrani, Alex Camilleri, Oliver Mallia
  • Cast
    Jesmark Scicluna, Michela Farrugia, David Scicluna
  • Cinematographer
    Léo Lefèvre
  • Editor
    Alex Camilleri
  • Music
    Jon Natchez