The Three Lucias

A Maltese Mystery Drama

Putting Malta on the big screen

Sunday, May 18, 2014, 00:01 - The Times of Malta

A new film aims to put Malta and the Maltese language on the international film map. Producer DAVID REDMAN and writer/director Sandra Sciberras speak to Veronica Stivalaabout their project.

Jerusalem, Munich, Château D’If, Turkey, Sweethaven, Rome, Ancient Greece… although Malta and its beautiful, clean coast have been featured in many films, including blockbuster hits like Gladiator, The Count of Monte Cristo, Troy and World War Z, it is safe to say that for most of the time, the island represented a different city or country and hardly ever featured as Malta itself.

Maltese-Australian writer and director Sandra Sciberras is on a quest to change that. Together with Australian producer David Redman she is making a film – The Three Lucias – not only set in Malta, but one in which the main spoken language is Maltese. The latter is unusual, considering that Maltese is understood by maximum 1,000,000 people, if you count emigrants. Yet, Sciberras is not deterred; the aim is for the film to break into the international film market by making its international debut at Cannes next year.

Sciberras is first-generation Maltese-Australian, meaning she has strong ties with Malta and has many relatives living here. She explains her motivation behind giving Malta this boost.

Using a real-life scenario, rather than artificially creating one was a first for him

“Growing up in Australia meant I had the opportunity to go to film school and to have the Australian government support me in my education. I looked at my cousins in Malta and thought, why don’t they have the same opportunities as I did?”

Sciberras’s powerful art house drama The Caterpillar Wish has won awards such as Best Supporting Actress AFI award (Australia’s version of an Oscar) as well as numerous other awards and nominations. In Malta, she has been working on various film-related projects and is involved in the Malta Film Fund.

She argues that little is known about Malta and film because it doesn’t have the international clout that, for example, French or Italian films have. She hopes that The Three Lucias will help change that.

The story of this mystery drama is intriguing and takes place between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In a nutshell, the plot goes something like this: a man with a colourful past is about to return home with the young daughter he didn’t know he had until her mother Lucia died. His daughter is, however, unable to leave and forms an attachment to a movie star with her own secrets. Over three days their lives intertwine with two other women called Lucia whose lives, part medieval and part modern, are filled with tragedy, humour and spirit.

In order to capture the true spirit of Easter­tide in Malta, the crew headed to the island to film scenes during Good Friday processions, the visits to seven churches in Siġġiewi, and as the Risen Christ statue was carried by people running through the streets on Easter Sunday morning.

The experience was very rewarding for Sciberras, because, as she explains: “I wanted it so much.” She comments how “it was very positive to be standing in Valletta with [Redman], shooting Catholicism at its best. The statues were grand, it was a very personal experience. It was lovely to see actress Marama Corlett’s character, which I’m so passionate about, come to life.”

Redman agrees and reveals how using a real-life scenario, rather than artificially creating one, was a first for him. Although this appeared daunting at first, he says it became easier once they realised that all they could do was work with what they had, and in a restricted timeframe.

Indeed, working with what Malta presented them with, rather than imposing themselves on it, is key to the creation of The Three Lucias for both Sciberras and Redman.

Another key factor to Redman’s work ethic is the importance of storytelling. It has been the motivating factor behind his various careers, although becoming a producer happened quite by accident.

Despite his relatively conservative upbringing – he attended the grammar school where his dad taught, studied arts, literature and music and studied business at university – Redman realised late in his teens that accounting was not for him and decided to backpack in the US as a harmonica player and guitarist.

“Telling stories was what interested me,” he confides. Music took him to London, Amsterdam and Rome ,where he busked and backpacked a bit more, until he ran out of money.

He moved back to London, where he heard about a job at what he thought was a music company. It turned out, however, that the company – Recorded Releasing (not Record Releasing as he mistakenly thought) – was a film company.

“Within a week I had fallen in love with the industry,” admits Redman. He worked his way up within a year and at 21 was acting managing director of the second largest independent company in the film industry.

Redman has been a producer for the past 20 years or so. He has worked with a range of companies, including Paramount, Universal, Village Roadshow, Channel Nine, Macquarie Investments, Island Records, Recorded Pictures, Hoyts, Virgin Interactive, and Adlabs.

He and Sciberras will be back in Malta towards the end of the year when they aim to finish shooting.

Australian film to be shot in Malta

Friday, February 21, 2014, 10:57 - The Times of Malta

An Australian mystery film drama is set to be entirely shot in Malta in the coming months.

The Three Lucias, by Screen Australia, will feature Claire Forlani, Ann Cusack and Valletta-born Marama Corlett in the leading roles by writer-director Sandra Sciberras, whose parents are Maltese. David Redman is the producer. The production is being supported by the Malta Film Commission.

The plot sees a man with a colourful past about to return home with the young daughter he didn't know he had until her mother Lucia died. His daughter is however unable to leave and forms an attachment to a movie star with her own secrets.

Over the three days of Easter Celebrations their lives intertwine with two other women called Lucia whose lives, part medieval and part modern, are filled with tragedy, humour and spirit.

Silent Lucia has walled herself into a life of suffering that only her love for her son can free her from. Pregnant Lucia thinks she is going mad and is trying to uncover why her mother did before it is too late.

The Three Lucias tells of the mystery that unites them all as they go on their quest for a little piece of heaven and shows the painful but uplifting complexity of motherhood.