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It is a great time to be a fan of film. The summer season is in full swing and cinema aficionados are waiting (im)patiently for the latest bout of major Hollywood releases. In terms of high budget blockbusters, Malta is certainly not the first shooting location that comes to mind. However, the efforts of the Malta Film Commission, together with the island's versatile locations, have lured in some real heavyweights in the film-making industry (and that's not to mention television serial producers - it's well known that the old capital city of Mdina doubled up as King's Landing in Season 1 of HBO's Game of Thrones).
So let's get cracking and check out five movies you didn't know where shot in Valletta!
World War Z got quite a bit of flak from audiences and critics for its generic plot, production problems and over-reliance on Brad Pitt's star power (check the Honest Trailer over at Screen Junkies' channel for more on that). All in all, I found it a reasonably entertaining way of whiling away a couple of hours.
13 Hours is a Michael Bay directed film based on the 2012 attacks on an a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The film gained considerable notoriety due its dubious historical accuracy as well as suggestions in some quarters that its release was calculated to hurt Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign (see: 404 | Guardian News & Media).
Controversy aside, the movie was a fairly good watch, with Michael Bay's signature (yet toned down) action scenes and likable characters. Large swathes of the movie were shot in Malta, particularly in Ta' Qali (the Mosta Dome can be seen in the background in several establishing shots throughout the film) and Valletta. The establishing seen below is unmistakably the skyline of our very own capital city, albeit digitally altered.
The latter served as a key location in an early scene, when Rone Woods picks up Jack da Silva from Benghazi airport to transport him to a covert CIA outpost. The former special-ops pair get caught in a roadblock, which is set up in none other than East Street (Triq il-Lvant), Valletta - a stone's throw away from Victoria Gate.
This is the one that many geeks (myself included) have been waiting for: a live action adaptation of one of the most critically and commercially successful video game franchises of the twenty-first century. Starring Michael Fassbender, Assassin's Creed departs from the game canon through the introduction of fresh characters and an original story, and it set to be released on 21st December 2016.
Many of the sites and streets mentioned previously once again played host to Justin Kurzel's production team, although the best screen grab I was able to procure from the trailer actually reveals St Publius Parish Church at the Granaries, Floriana (which, incidentally, is the site for the annual Isle of MTV show) in the background.
Admittedly, video game adaptations have traditionally been critical flops (I'm looking at you Super Mario Bros) ... but I can remain hopeful, can't I?
Devil's Double is, in my opinion, one of the most under-rated movies of this generation. The Lee Tamahori biographical film tells the story of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi man selected to stand as one of Uday Hussein's body doubles around the time of the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988.
Although the majority of the film was shot in Malta (the University of Malta makes an appearance as a hospital in once scene), this represents one of the few occasions that Valletta was not standing in for another country, as Latif flees to the fortress city with his lover, taking up residence in the Grand Harbour Hotel (which, incidentally, overlooks Victoria Gate!).
Kon-tiki is a 2012 historical drama film about the 1947 Kon-tiki expedition (you can read more about it here: Kon-Tiki expedition) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). While this might not be a Hollywood blockbuster, it's a movie with a lot of heart - a matter that led it to nominated for an Academy Award in 2013.
Fun fact: a call for extras for a key scene at the Valletta waterfront was made in 2012. A number of friends of mine, needing the extra cash, signed up and suffered through dozens of takes waving and saluting in the scorching sun, as seen below.
How's that for five seconds of fame?