A neorealist film about a Maltese fisherman struggling to support his family, who has to choose between keeping his traditional fishing boat (the titular ‘luzzu’) or taking a pay-off to decommission the vessel. It’s the kind of synopsis that could easily serve as the punchline of a joke about film festival obscurities (think Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte), but Luzzu is a film that deserves to be taken seriously.

It’s a touching tale of personal sacrifice which never succumbs to sentimentality. There is no easy, perfect solution: fisherman Jesmark has to wrestle with a scenario where, inevitably, something of value will be lost.

Although Luzzu gets bogged down with the corruption endemic in the local fishing industry at times, it retains a purity of vision. Filmmaker Alex Camilleri’s work is most impressive when the boat is at sea, the glossy, multicoloured paint job a deeply symbolic beacon amidst the shimmering waves.

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