Luzzu’s lead actor Jesmark Scicluna won the prestigious World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at the 2021 edition of the Sundance Film Festival. Luzzu was directed by Alex Camilleri and made its world premiere at Sundance this past weekend.
Representing the World Cinema jury, Turkish producer Zeynep Atakan said, “Luzzu is a beautifully recorded film, which immerses us in a powerful story and a context far away from the touristic point of view of Malta some may know. The emotions that come up with this movie are honest and brought to us by the very well documented situation of the fishermen.”
She continued: “Acting is more than magic – it’s mystery. Amongst the biggest mysteries of acting sometimes you find people that…bring a message along with them. That is pure biography, and it transcends the body.”
Scicluna plays Jesmark, a struggling fisherman, who is forced to turn his back on generations of tradition and risk everything by entering the world of blackmarket fishing to provide for his wife and newborn baby.
In receiving the award, Scicluna thanked director Alex Camilleri, and casting director Edward Said, “for taking a leap of faith in me”. He also thanked his co-stars, fellow fisherman David Scicluna and actress Michela Farrugia, as well as the film’s producers Rebecca Anastasi, Ramin Bahrani and Oliver Mallia. Last but not least, he thanked his family, especially his wife, MariaCarla Scicluna, and their four-year old daughter, Cheryl Scicluna.
Camilleri praised Scicluna, saying, “Developing this character over two years with me, Jesmark demonstrated extraordinary commitment to this project. His performance is not simply a great ‘non-actor’ performance; it’s a great performance, period. Jesmark elevates Luzzu with a subtlety and soulfulness that reminds me of the very best screen actors, and I’m thrilled his work is being recognized at the highest levels.”
Luzzu is the first Maltese film to ever screen at a major film festival. Since its premiere last Friday, the Maltese language film has been garnering acclaim from audiences and leading film critics. The film was made with the support of the Malta Film Fund and the financial incentives provided by the Malta Film Commission and the Government of Malta. Sales are by Memento Films International.