Luzzu

Director: Alex Camilleri
Screenwriters: Alex Camilleri

Institute History

  • 2021 Sundance Film Festival

Description

Jesmark, a Maltese fisherman, contends with a newfound leak in his wooden luzzu boat. Barely getting by, he sees his livelihood—and a family tradition from generations before him—imperiled by diminishing harvests, a ruthless fishing industry, and a stagnating ecosystem. Desperate to provide for his wife and their newborn son, whose growth impediment requires treatment, Jesmark gradually slips into an illicit black-market fishing operation.

Although Malta makes the occasional movie appearance, Luzzu is one of its first truly local films. This is a poignant, humanistic portrait of an eclipsing way of life, its authenticity stemming from the years filmmaker Alex Camilleri spent befriending Maltese fishermen, who then became his cast. Camilleri’s neorealist approach finds the quiet power of small moments and the underlying intensity of ordinary people pushed into untenable positions. Yet it still belongs firmly to today—a reflection on sustainable ecosystems and the consequences of climate change for these fishermen. You feel their struggle, the loss of an identity tied to tradition, and a love for the sea and these colorful boats with their wood-carved faces.

— J.N.

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

Credits

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