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An American photographer on assignment in Malta finds inspiration in a struggling young beekeeper, but attracts the attention of her volatile, estranged ex-husband.
Venus Melite follows a queer American photographer, Mars, who travels to the isolated Mediterranean island of Malta on assignment for a travel publication. She is recently single and grieving the loss of her mother, and she’s searching - for a story, for a connection, for inspiration.
She finds inspiration in Isla, the daughter of a recently deceased Maltese beekeeper. After Mars breaks up a drunken, midnight fight between Isla and her estranged husband, Kane, the two women bond over their grief. As Isla works to rebuild her father’s honeybee colonies, Mars tours the island, uncovering a brutal history of colonial occupation and violence, as well as contemporary issues such as corruption, environmental degradation, and the migrant crisis. Meanwhile, as sexual tension grows between the two women, Kane’s increasingly erratic behavior serves as a constant threat.
Venus Melite began in January of 2016, when I traveled to Malta for the first time for an artist residency in Valletta. Upon arrival in Malta, I was immediately struck by the country’s natural beauty, but also by the very apparent tension between antiquity and modernity, nature and industry, progress and tradition.
Venus Melite is loosely based on my experience of traveling alone as a queer person in a foreign country. Each of the central characters are outsiders in their own way: Mars as a genderqueer artist; Isla as a low-income, single woman; and Kane, who suffers under the intense pressures assigned by traditional masculinity. And just as Isla’s honeybees, a representation of natural symbiosis, struggle in our inevitably changing environment, our characters struggle to find a new way of living in a fragile, changing world.
The images Mars captures will be printed in various sizes for the film's final gallery scene. These signed, limited-edition prints will serve as rewards for your contribution to the film's production.
Scott Lyman | writer/director
Raised on a farm in rural Virginia, Scott Lyman studied acting at Harvard before moving to New York in 2010 to pursue a career as a visual artist and filmmaker. In 2014, Scott graduated with a masters in fine art from Central Saint Martins in London, where he developed a 26-minute video adaptation of Booker Prize-winner Alan Hollinghurst's debut novel The Swimming Pool Library (1988). Shortly thereafter, the video was selected for the high-profile Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015, and installed in a custom, neoclassical pavilion at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. In 2016, Scott traveled to Malta for an artist’s residency at Blitz in Valletta, and premiered a short video commissioned by Daata Editions at Frieze London. Scott splits his time between New York and Virginia.
Angelique Muller | producer, 1st AD
Angelique was born in Clermont-Ferrand, France, a city well known for hosting the largest short film festival in the world, and inspiring generations of short filmmakers. She studied communications and film studies at the University of Malta. Her graduation short film won the Grand Prize at the Tangier Film Festival in 2006, earning her a scholarship to take up a masters degree in screenwriting at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Angelique later trained as an Assistant Director in Paris and has worked on major projects such as GAME OF THRONES (2011), WORLD WAR Z (2013), RED 2 (2013), and Angelina Jolie's BY THE SEA (2014). In 2015 she joined the Film Grain Foundation, proud organizers of the Valletta Film Festival. She is currently in pre-production for her third short film.
Oliver Mallia | producer
Oliver has over eighteen years of experience working in the audiovisual industry. He is the owner of Pellikola, a Maltese film production company, and founding member of the Film Grain Foundation, the organization behind the Valletta Film Festival. Over the years, he has contributed significantly to developing the audiovisual industry and positioning Malta as a proficient and cost-effective filming location. He also served as Malta's Film Commissioner from 2002 to 2007. During his tenure as film commissioner, Oliver attracted various projects like TROY (2003), Spielberg’s MUNICH (2005), DA VINCI CODE (2005) and LARGO WINCH (2007) to shoot on the islands. Later, as a Production Manager and Producer, he attracted and managed a number of international productions including AGORA (2008), THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE (2010), GAME OF THRONES (2011), and more recently, Angelina Jolie's BY THE SEA (2014), YOU ME AND THE APOCALYPSE (2015), ENTEBBE (2017), GIRLFRIENDS (2018), and TORPEDO (2019). Through Pellikola, Oliver produced and directed a 10-part television series titled THE ART OF MALTA that was broadcast in January 2018. He is currently producing a feature film titled 'The Vanishing Wake' directed by Alex Camilleri to be filmed in 2019.
Martin Berléand (TRIADE FILMS)| producer
TRIADE FILMS is a French production company whose mission is to identify and foster new talent with ambitious cinematic projects. We seek to cultivate demanding and innovative films that strive to achieve both style and substance, and encourage audiences to consider their place in the world. The company has developed several international co-productions, including 7 SHEEP (short film selected to Toronto International Film Festival), JOURNALS (feature selected in Locarno) by Wiktoria Szymanska (Poland) CITY PLAZA HOTEL by Anna-Paula Honïg and Violetta Paus (short film selected to Clermont Ferrand and Berlinale).
Margaret Singer | actor, photographer
Margaret grew up moving all over the world — from Indonesia to Brazil to Ethiopia — and got a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brigham Young University. There she was an editor for BYU’s literary journal and co-founded the first student-run campus newspaper in 2003. She moved to Boston in 2005, where she opened a successful boutique photo studio. Max joined the business in 2010 and together they moved to Brooklyn where they operate Unusually Fine, a photo and video studio working with a range of clients (corporate and individual). Margaret has acted in several short films and web series, including an episode of THE OUTS and Holopaw’s music video DIRTY BOOTS, as well as in ZOETROPE, SEARCH PARTY, and THE 3 BITS. She has also written about gay issues for The Huffington Post and the Independent Filmmaker Project’s blog.
Because of the climate in Malta and the cycle of the Maltese honeybee, we have a very brief window to shoot the film in late April - early May.
Submissions to film festivals will begin in October 2019, leaving five months for post-production.
We need to raise a minimum of $15,000 in order to shoot the film. If we exceed our goal, we will be able to shoot a stunning film. Any excess in funding will be put towards post-production in New York, which will include some visual effects.
Here's what your contributions will help us achieve:
- $500 will cover grip equipment rentals.
- $1,000 will cover lighting equipment.
- $1,500 will cover props.
- $2,500 will cover 4k camera equipment rentals.
- $5,000 will cover transportation and lodging for our diverse, international cast & crew.
Risks and challenges
For a short, Venus Melite is an ambitious film on a grand scale. The project also has tremendous artistic potential and global resonance.
We have assembled a diverse, international cast and crew who are committed to the film's subject matter, but there is a significant cost in bringing this team together.
Our greatest challenge is funding, so your support will make a huge difference in our ability to move forward with the shoot.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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