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SIMSHAR

SYNOPSIS: Young Theo (Adrian Ferrugia) is sent on his first trip with his Maltese fisherman father and granddad, but things go terribly wrong when the Simshar sinks, leaving the crew stranded in the Mediterranean. Simultaneously, Alex (Mark Mifsud) - a medic reluctantly dispatched onto a Turkish Merchant vessel which has rescued a group of stranded African refugees between Malta and Italy - gets stuck on the boat as the countries wage a bureaucratic war over who should take in the migrants. The stories unravel in parallel and culminate tragically when the fishermen are traced, but by that time there's only one survivor. (Inspired by real events.)

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Made with enormous compassion and humanity, Simshar is a moving story that is inspired by real events - and could be seen to represent hundreds if not thousands of such stories as the world heaves with the flow of refugees escaping conflict and persecution. It is in that respect alone relevant and timely, but told from a Maltese perspective, it becomes even more poignant. It is the first feature submitted by Malta for a Foreign Language Academy Award.

The islands of Malta are geographically between Africa and Europe, metaphorically between danger and safety, thrust into a dilemma beyond their control: how to satisfy humanitarian wishes with the pragmatic realities of their lives and resources.

Rebecca Cremona makes her feature debut with Simshar, which won a Silver at the California Film Awards, and she shows natural cinematic flair. She teases excellent performances from her all her cast and her screenplay (with David Grech) is ambitious and successful in combining two aspects of the situation in which the events are set: the Maltese fishermen on the one hand and the rescue workers handling the refugees on the other. Both face enormous challenges, and the film switches from one story to the other seamlessly and provocatively.

Ruben Zahra's evocative score is laden with melancholy, and Chris Freilich's cinematography is unobtrusive yet powerful. A haunting film about a nightmare in which we are all now participants, active or otherwise.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SIMSHAR (M)
(Malta, 2014)

CAST: Lofti Abdelli, Jimi Busutti, Sˇkouba Doucourˇ, Chrysander Agius, Adrian Farrugia, Clare Agius, Mark Mifsud, Kurt Zammit, Pierre Stafrace, Laura Kpegli, Antonella Axisa

PRODUCER: Lesley Lucey

DIRECTOR: Rebecca Cremona

SCRIPT: Rebecca Cremona, David Grech

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Chris Freilich

EDITOR: Daniel Lapira

MUSIC: Ruben Zahra

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nina Gerada, Jonathan Hagos

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Backlot Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 1, 2015







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