Aussie director Peter Sant shoots debut feature ‘Maneland’ in Malta

16 February, 2017 by Jackie Keast

Australian filmmaker Peter Sant recently shot his debut feature, Maneland, on the north west coast of Malta over 18 days.


The film is described as “an experiential film about a stasis and slow change.”

It follows a crippled king who is living with his two daughters in a bunker on an isolated island following the spread of virus. Following a serious of encounters, the virus seems to return. 

Sant wrote the film, which is in the Maltese language, with co-writer Alex Vella Gera. Sant's parents migrated to Australia in the 1950s from Malta – and the director himself lived there for a period during the 2000s. 

"I was surprised to discover that the local [film] industry is virtually non-existent, but that Malta has appeared on countless screens all over the world in films like Munich, Troy, Gladiator, By the Sea, etc, but always as a double for elsewhere."

"So to me it’s kind of this eternal elsewhere. The script is based around this idea but deals with it in a playful manner,” Sant told IF. 

The film’s cast are all Maltese, with the exception of John Zhang, who plays a Chinese billionare. The DP is British cinematographer Martin Testar, whose credits include Spy Game and Shane Meadows' A Room for Romeo Brass. Production design is by Charlo Dalli (Game of Thrones, Assassin's Creed).

Maneland was in development for five years and is part-financed by the Malta Film Fund. “We approached numerous sales agents and distributors prior to production but as expected any hope of pre-sales on a debut feature with no known cast and no genre is slim,” said Sant.

“We did have a lot of interest in the project but no real commitment from sales agents or distributors in the pre-production stage. One UK sales agent rejected the project and described it as 'starting off as a cross between Cinderella and The Tempest and ending in deep arthouse', an inadvertently encouraging response.”

The film will complete post-production in the UK.