A hardworking Maltese fisherman, Jesmark is faced with an agonizing choice. He can repair his leaky luzzu – a traditional, multicolored wooden fishing boat – in the hopes of eking out a meager living at sea for his wife and newborn son, just as his father and grandfather did before him. Or he can decommission it in exchange for an EU payout and cast his lot with a sinister black-market operation that is decimating the Mediterranean fish population and the livelihoods of the local families who depend on it. Luzzu won a Sundance Jury Prize for its nonprofessional lead actor Jesmark Scicluna, a real-life Maltese fisherman, and heralds the arrival of writer-director-editor Alex Camilleri. His gripping film operates in the neorealist tradition of Luchino Visconti, Roberto Rosselini, and the Dardenne brothers and calls to mind the socially engaged cinema of Ken Loach and the film’s producer Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, The White Tiger).
“An affecting neorealist drama… indebted to the stripped-bare postwar Italian cinema of Visconti and Rosselini… but Luzzu’s brawny, sun-broiled shoulders can sustain the weight of its influences.” Guy Lodge, Variety
“A moving tale of real-world strife… part observational drama, part social thriller.” Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
“A ravishing portrait of tradition in transition… teems with old-world beauty.” Carlos Aguilar, RogerEbert.com
Winner: Special Jury Prize for Acting (Jesmark Scicluna) – Sundance Film Festival