Published on Thursday 30 May 2019

The New York premiere screening of Limestone Cowboy, Maltese director Abigail Mallia’s new film, was presented by Arts Council Malta at the prestigious Museum of the Moving Image on May 5th with positive reactions and strong response from the audience. The film was also screened to a packed house at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan two days later

Presented by Arts Council Malta as part of New York’s Panorama Europe Film Festival, Limestone Cowboy was one of nine films directed by female directors at this year’s edition of the Festival — which also had Malta participating for the fourth year running.

Writing for The Clyde Fitch Report, Josè Solis praised Mallia’s sense of compassion for the film’s main character — Karist — as making the film ‘a rarity: a work that dares not judge a character that might be reviled or patronized by audiences.’ 

Mallia’s boisterous, well-crafted film is brought to life by the performances of its lead actors Paul Portelli and Davide Tucci. Portelli plays the eponymous, hat-donning cowboy Karist, a hero in his own mind, driven by his love of the mythical American west to be Malta’s saviour by contesting the island’s elections. While Davide Tucci plays Karist’s son who is, struggling to save what is left of his family’s respectability.

Both Portelli and Tucci were in New York and took questions from the audiences in highly engaged Q&A sessions after each screening — with Portelli stating he was ‘truly bowled over by a very articulate and curious audience’ at the Bohemian National Hall session.

Now in its eleventh edition, the Panorama Europe Film Festival is a high-profile event and an important one for Malta to be part of. Curated by David Schwartz, Curator-at-Large for the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), the festival is co-presented by the members of European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) together with MoMI. 

Schwartz himself has described the 2019 edition, which featured actors of stature such as Maria Dragus and Marie Baümer, as placing ‘a focus on the myriad of ways that the pressures and anxieties of modern life filter down into the most intimate aspects of personal identity.’

The event afforded Malta’s team an opportunity to network and open up new opportunities for collaboration, projects and other avenues for participation. These included a visit to The Actors Studio which, Portelli noted, ‘afforded us the opportunity to meet experts and create contacts, and to watch the masters at work.’ The sessions at The Actors Studio were moderated by Tony Award-winning actor Michael Aronov.

Arts Council Malta in New York will continue with its efforts to ensure Malta’s creatives have high-profile international platforms where they can exhibit, share their art, and receive quality feedback on their work.