#SHORTVIEW: “The Maltese Fighter”, by Arev Manoukian

Synopsis:

In a time when Malta’s political violence was at its peak, Carmelo, a struggling single father and boxer from Valletta, is forced to join a corrupt underworld as he tries to provide for his only son.


SILENCE THE OPPOSITION


> Why did you want to shoot this story?

I was approached by Joshua and Monica, the producer and writer of the film, respectively, to explore some short story ideas that they had in mind. We looked at a few different stories, and I suggested to tell a Maltese story, something that touched on its rich history and its people. Malta is a really picturesque place, and we thought that it could be its own character in the film.

> A big theme in your short film is the political violence and corruption that surrounds the father, as well as Malta itself. Where did this come from?

The story is set in the 1970’s, a time when there was a growing political turmoil in Malta. The ruling party was seeking independence from Britain, while at the same time reclaiming a lot of the island’s resources and companies back under the state’s control. This created a lot of tension between the government and its citizens – and this was the atmosphere that we tried to convey.

However, it’s important to note that our film re-creates the tense political atmosphere of the times, but does not get into specifics. History is much more complex than what we’d be able to explore through a short film.

> At one point in the film, the father is forced to work as a “bully” because of the lack of better jobs. Is this what happens to the people on the streets?

I think that victims of poverty and desperation are very easily manipulated to perpetrate acts of violence. Carmelo is being paid to be a bully right from the start: he’s being paid to beat British boxers in the ring, and later on, he’ll be paid to silence the political opposition in the streets. When he realizes that he has made the wrong choice, it’s already too late.

Crime and violence are always lurking around, whether we like it or not. People with power and influence will always use it to advance their political agendas. When large amounts of people start participating in political or social movements that become violent, these divisive events become normalized, and ordinary people can be drawn to become criminals themselves.


At the point of the interview, Arev was developing two different feature film projects, and hoped to be able to direct one of them in the future.