I bet it’s not often that the words ‘film’ and ‘Malta’ appear together in the same sentence, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. There are actually lots of interesting sites and places of cinematic pilgrimage (ooh la la) in Malta for film lovers.
As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, Malta is a haven for Hollywood film location scouts for its unique landscape. The small island country probably offers a lot of privacy for A-listers, too. But there are actually one or two weird and wonderful sites in Malta for film lovers to check out…
Malta for Film Lovers
1. Check out the Game of Thrones filming locations
Yes, yes, let’s get all the glaringly obvious reasons for film fans to visit Malta out of the way first. Since 2011, tourists have chosen Malta as there next holiday destination purely for its use as a film location in season one of Game of Thrones. Which, as a film locations nerd, I think is just as good a reason as any to visit a place.
2. While you’re at it, check out ALL the film locations!
Malta has been utilised extensively by the guys over in Hollywood for it’s dated limestone buildings, an array of forts on hand and no doubt the privacy it offers big stars. Films such as Troy (2004), Captain Phillips (2013) and Munich (2005) have all chosen Malta as a film location.
3. Hit up a movie at one of Malta’s cinemas
Malta has maybe ten cinemas. Probably less. And they’re concentrated around the capital city of Valletta. This is essentially the main reason why, as a film fan, I could never live in Malta.
Gozo’s only cinema is Citadel Cinema showing the usual Hollywood fare. There are a couple of others dotted around the islands but I have it on good authority that the sharper film fan will find arthouse and world cinema selections at the St James Cavelier in Valletta.
4. Discover new films at Malta International Film Festival
Yes, a Malta International Film Festival exists! It takes place in August and has been running for years. The Film Festival is based at Eden Cinemas in St. Julians, which is by far Malta’s biggest cinema complex.
Meanwhile, Valletta Film Festival is a mere toddler in comparison and is celebrating its fourth annual event in June 2018. The Golden Knight International Short Film Festival organised by the Malta Cine Circle will be in its 56th year in 2018.
Isn’t it astounding and also very wonderful to see such a small country have a thriving arts community?
5. Pay your respects to British actor Oliver Reed at ‘The Pub’
This is a very tragic story, just warning you now. In the late nineties, director Ridley Scott filmed some scenes from his upcoming epic, Gladiator (2000). Oliver Reed was a British actor who was cast in the film. He was probably most famous for his role as Bill Sykes in Oliver! (1968) up until that time.
Reed was also an alcoholic and had struggled with alcoholism for much of his life. While filming Gladiator in Malta, he suffered a heart attack after participating in a drinking competition at a British Bar in Valletta, the capital of Malta, simply called ‘The Pub’.
The Pub took this new-found notoriety and ran with it. Inside the pub, you can find many pictures of Oliver Reed, newspaper headlines from his deadly bender and they have even framed his unpaid bar tab of eight lagers, 12 double rums and half a bottle of whisky.
Unsettlingly, they also sell t-shirts with this list of beverages that he consumed that fateful night adorned with ‘LEGEND’ at the bottom. I even saw a man in the airport wearing one on the flight home. So, whilst I understand that a lot of bars and restaurants want to cash in on any recognition they can cling to, and I agree that he is a legend, this unsettles me. For some reason, the idea of listing the beverages consumed by a man right before he collapsed and died and then associating this with being ‘legendary’ seems unnecessary and rubs me the wrong way.
Nevertheless, it’s unmissable for a film fan to skip The Pub as it is an important part of Malta’s film history.
6. Watch Buster Keaton films with a Cocktail at Cafe Society
I’ll admit, this is a bit of an odd addition to a list of things to do in Malta for film lovers. But whatevs.
I’d researched bars in Malta before I left and this seemed like a nice cocktail bar (it is). What I didn’t expect was a selection of Buster Keaton silent films displayed on the back wall all night! Yes, specifically just Buster Keaton silent films it seems. Clearly, Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle are too mainstream.
I’m sure this is just a quirky, hipster addition to an already cool bar but I think it’s a great way to watch more movies when you’re on holiday! Which is something I always strive to do.
7. Enjoy an afternoon at the Popeye Village
This is another ‘eh?’ addition to the list. See, I told you that Malta has some pretty surprising things for film fans to do there!
Robert Altman’s 1980 film Popeye was entirely filmed on the Northwest coastline in Malta. The production company created a huge, shanty town replicating the Popeye comic strips for the film. And guess what? It’s still there! Popeye Village is now a little theme park for families to come and spend the day living like a sailor man.
Find out more about visiting Popeye Village here. And check out this option if you want Popeye Village Admission plus Transport to and from your Hotel.
8. Take a Film Location tour around the country!
And if you can’t be bothered with all the planning and organising it takes to visit all of the film locations Malta, then take a tour!
For a more general film locations tour in Malta, unfortunately, there aren’t tonnes of choices. As you can imagine, most people are Game of Thrones mad these days so that leaves other locations a bit lonely. However, Malta Film Tours offer private film locations tours around Malta if that’s something you would be interested in.
Those are my top 8 things to do in Malta for Film Lovers! Would you like to take a film location tour in Malta or one of the other activities? Let me know in the comments below!