Cuture
This 1977 Maltese film will give you a glimpse of what our island looked like back in the day
'Katarin’ was celebrated Maltese cinematographer Cecil Satariano’s last film

Caroline Curmi

The '70s were known for bellbottoms and disco music, but they were also a time of massive cultural change, a topic which heavily influenced Cecil Satariano’s 1977 film ‘Katarin’.

Cecil, a local self-taught filmmaker, directed five major bodies of work during the decade that was the '70s. The first was ‘I’m furious…red’ (1970), a 32-minute film shot in super 8mm whose story revolved around a peeping Tom, a role played by Frank Pisani.

The film won Cecil a top ten place in the British Movie Maker magazine’s film competition. His debut film was followed up by three others in quick succession: ‘Giuseppi’ in 1972, ‘The Beach’ in 1973 and ‘Ilona’ in 1974, with ‘The Beach’ also earning another top 10 mention.

Katarin, his last film, was shot in English and screened in cinemas across Malta and London in 1977, with Anna Stafrace and Frank Pisani in the leading roles. Written by John Phillips, the narrative revolves around a 15-year old girl’s transition into womanhood and contrasts a village-style upbringing with the rapid cultural movements of the time.

Shot in 16mm, and later blown up to 35mm by its UK distributor, the film was rated 16 and as such was disqualified from being shown in makeshift cinemas in parish halls due to their strict policy of exclusively screening U-rated films.

'Katarin' showcases some beautiful and highly aesthetic shots but it also provides a well of nostalgia through shots of Malta’s then-unspoiled landscapes and also of organically-sourced footage of the Birkirkara village feast.

See if you can spot anyone you know in the crowd:

Do you remember seeing this at the cinema?

22nd January 2020


Caroline Curmi
Written by
Caroline Curmi
When she’s not having a quarter-life crisis, Caroline is either drawing in a café, frittering her salary on sushi or swearing at traffic in full-on Gozitan. There is also the occasional daytime drink somewhere in the equation. Or two. A creative must be allowed at least one vice.