Alex Camilleri • Malta & USA • 2021 • A remarkable neorealist drama.
Jesmark comes from a long line of Maltese fishermen. Like his father and grandfather before him, he ekes out a meager existence on his luzzu, a traditional fishing boat, that has now begun to take on water. As the breadwinner for his wife and newborn son, he is faced with an agonizing choice—to repair his boat, or decommission it in exchange for an EU payout. Around that corner, however, lies a slippery slope into a local black market operation responsible for the decline of Mediterranean fish populations and the families like his that depend on them.
Starring real-life Maltese fisherman Jesmark Scicluna, Luzzu deftly navigates the ethical conundrum of its protagonist in the neorealist fashion of Roberto Rosselini and the Dardenne brothers. Editor Alex Camilleri’s directorial debut premiered at BFI London, Karlovy Vary, New Directors/New Films, and Sundance, where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting. Luzzu was the second ever Maltese film to be submitted to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.