PRODUCTION: Maltese The Viper’s Pit in Postproduction

    The Viper's Pit by Martin Bonnici The Viper's Pit by Martin Bonnici photo: Shadeena Entertainment Ltd

    VALLETTA: The adaptation of the Maltese National Book Council award-winning novel The Viper's Pit / Is-Sriep Reġgħu Sara Velenużi, directed by Martin Bonnici, is in postproduction. 

    The film, based on a novel by Alex Vella Gera, tells the story of a thwarted (and fictional) assassination attempt on former Maltese Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party, Dom Mintoff, who headed the Government from 1955 to 1958 and from 1971 to 1984.

    The Viper's Pit is the first feature-length fiction film financed by the National Book Council of Malta, which awarded the producing company Shadeena Entertainment Ltd support through its recently established Film Adaptation Fund, which aims to promote Maltese literature through a maximum financial allocation of 200,000 EUR for screen adaptations.

    The shoot took place in August 2020, after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The premiere date is anticipated for mid-2021. The film's cast is led by Gianni Selvaggi, Joseph Zammit, Chris Galea and Erica Muscat, and features a range of Maltese actors from both screen and stage, including Paul Portelli, Josette Ciappara, Ronald Briffa and Tina Rizzo.

    “We had to contend with shifting regulations and the general fear that the unprecedented pandemic has caused. Wearing masks and using hand sanitiser became the new normal and, even in the stifling heat of the Maltese summer, we ensured that everyone followed safety protocols,” Bonnici told FNE.

    The production also reduced the use of background actors to the sheer minimum and encouraged social distancing on set.

    While acknowledging that the “Maltese indigenous film industry still needs to prove itself”, the director underlined the hope that the film will capture “the hearts and minds of audiences in Malta and across various territories”, encouraging “dialogue about the relationship between politics and business, as well as the impact actions have across generations.”

    Malta’s film servicing industry is well-known across the globe, but its domestic sector has struggled in the face of limited public support and the almost non-existent local film production structures.

    “Over the decades, Maltese talent has often been overlooked in favour of large financial incentives towards Hollywood productions that use Malta as a backlot, providing little to no opportunities for local talent. However, more and more people are now investing their time and energy in the production of original content and one hopes that, within the coming years, more talented writers, directors and producers gain the necessary experience and support to produce engaging films that share our culture and stories with the world,” Bonnici said.

    Production information:

    Shadeena Entertainment Ltd (Malta)
    Martin Bonnici This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    +356 9986 1585

    Director: Martin Bonnici
    Screenplay: Teodor Reljić and Martin Bonnici
    DoP: Martin Bonnici
    Set Design: Francesca Mercieca
    Costumes: Samuela Galea
    Sound: Elias Theodorou
    Cast: Gianni Selvaggi, Joseph Zammit, Chris Galea, Erica Muscat, Paul Portelli, Josette Ciappara, Ronald Briffa, Tina Rizzo