The Times of Malta has published a report claiming that migrants were subjected to ill treatment on a film set for an Italian production. Among them was a pregnant women. Several crew members reportedly resigned following the incident.
The paper said that members of the film crew had told them that 60 migrants were left on a boat in the sun without being allowed to take toilet breaks for six hours. Most of them reportedly did not know how to swim, either. At least four crew members reportedly resigned after the incident.
"Their lives were at risk," one of them told the paper. "I was terrified for their safety."
The Times of Malta added that several crew members had told the newspaper they thought the migrants had deliberately been mistreated in order to get more realistic reactions from the extras. A pregnant woman on set had apparently begun to panic in the stressful situation, resulting in the crew taking her to shore.
"They're making these migrants relive what they've been through without any sensitivity and without a care in the world," one crew member told the paper.
Production company denies wrongdoing
The Italian producers behind the movie directed by Italian comedic filmmaker Checco Zalone meanwhile were quoted as saying that the allegations had "come out of nowhere." Halo Pictures, the Maltese production company coordinating the filming in Malta, denied any such ill treatment, saying that local employment law in Malta had been followed and that all health and safety checks had been carried out.
The newspaper quoted Halo Pictures CEO Engelbert Grech as saying that the claims were merely an attempt by a single disgruntled former employee to sabotage the production.
Pietro Valsecchi, another producer involved in the film, representing the Taodue production company, told the Italian ANSA news agency that he also viewed the allegation as a "fabrication made up by someone who was kicked off the set."
A total of around 70 African migrants living in Malta, among them four children, had been hired to feature as extras in the Italian movie titled "Tolo Tolo," the newspaper reported.
The Malta Film Commission has launched an investigation into the allegations.