V18 denies Nazzjon claim of €300,000 grant for Azzopardi production

PN organ claimed V18 director got €300,000 for film adapted from his theatre company’s play

Mario Philip Azzopardi
Mario Philip Azzopardi

The Valletta 2018 Foundation has denied reports of a €300,000 film production grant that would benefit its own artistic director, the film producer Mario Philip Azzopardi.

The V18 Foundation was responding to questions from this newspaper on a report by the Nationalist Party organ In-Nazzjon, which suggested that the grant benefited V18’s own artistic director.

The money has been fronted by V18 for a co-production with the Public Broadcasting Services for the film adaptation of the play Ħabbilni Ħa Nirbaħ – which Azzopardi had produced through his company Staġun Teatru Malti for the Manoel Theatre.

“The play was an original creation of playwright Simon Bartolo, and staged by Staġun Teatru Malti, which has given the rights for free to the V18 Foundation so that a film is commissioned on the basis of the play,” V18 spokesperson Stephanie Debono told MaltaToday.

The film will be produced by the private company Monolith, which was awarded the contract by V18. The spokesperson said the grant was accorded “under procedures established at law.”

“These facts are enough to indicate that at no stage did Mario Philip Azzopardi give himself a contract as alleged by In-Nazzjon.”

According the PN front-page report, journalist Joe Mikallef alleged that Azzopardi “gave himself a €300,000 contract” by virtue of the fact that the film adaptation was of a play that his own theatre company had produced at the Manoel. While the headline was clear enough, the article itself only specified that the play itself would be adapted into a film for €300,000.

The Manoel Theatre has a contract with Staġun Teatru Malti for the production of three plays a year for €20,000.