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Maltese Environment

UPDATED – Is Maltese Fashion TV show ‘Venere’ polluting a protected area?

It is well renowned amongst the Maltese community that environmental laws are all bark and no bite. Despite this shameful reality, I find it vile how some people think it is justifiable to use a protected area for filming and proceed to pollute or cause harm to it, while at the same time doing it on national television!

I came across the following promotional video on Facebook for the upcoming installment of a Maltese fashion oriented television show called Venere. This show, set to air on Sunday the 3rd November, shows a collection of models (with really uncomfortable faces) being splattered on with what appears to be relatively viscous water based paint.

This promotional video has been shot at Ghajn Tuffieha, which can be identified from the characteristic blue clay slopes (see picture below). The site is listed as an area of ecological importance and as an area jointly managed by MEPA and the Gaia Foundation. Moreover, the areas around the blue clay slopes are also listed as a Special Area of Conservation as part of coastal cliffs under the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations 2003 (L.N. 257 of 2003).

The Blue Clay slopes of Ghajn Tuffieha are unique to the Maltese Islands

The Blue Clay slopes of Ghajn Tuffieha are unique to the Maltese Islands

As such I would like to pose two very simple questions to the Venere production team:

  • Did you obtain a permit to throw paint around a protected area?
  • How did you clean up after yourselves (if at all), or did you just leave the paint to wash down the slopes onto the small beach below and into the sea?
A still from the above video clearly shows that the paint has two destinations: a frightened model and the very dry and water yearning clay beneath her bum

A still from the above video clearly shows that the paint has two destinations: a frightened model and the very dry and water yearning clay beneath her bum

Furthermore more, I am pretty confident that the provision of a filming permit in a protected area limits certain practices that can be carried out within in. The haphazard sloshing of paint is most certainly one of them, as this itself is illegal under several legal notices covering marine pollution, environmental protection, chemical use, waste and pollution! An example of these is L.N. 344 of 2005 Environment Protection Act (CAP. 435) Abandonment, Dumping and Disposal of Waste in Streets, and Public Places or Areas Regulations, 2005 – which clearly states that it is illegal to dispose of litter that includes:

“any other object, material or substance deposited in a public place causing or adding a disorderly appearance of such place or detrimentally causing an effect on the proper use of the place, or which may, in general, increase the risk of health or environmental hazard to the public or the surrounding environment, or which may be a nuisance to the public”

And just to be even more thorough, a pubic places is defined as

“any place, privately owned or otherwise, to which the public has access, and including a street, sea, playing field and playing ground, field, valley, beach, fountain, watercourse, reservoir, well and swimming pool”

Also, to the Venere production team, you may want to rephrase the word dune to slopes ahead of your Sunday programme, Dunes are generally made of sand, not clay.

* * *

Here is a reply I received on behalf of the Venere production team, which thankfully shows that I was not right and that the filming location was respected:

Dear Mr. Borg Micallef,

I am part of the Venere production team. I would like to show my appreciation for your work in writing environment-related-articles. I have environmental issues at hearth as well and most often I think that such issues are either ignored or taken with a pinch of salt. Hence I would like to thank you for your invaluable contribution, especially since I am aware of the commitment one needs to be able to write blogs and articles with such frequency.

However, I would like to kindly ask you to check your facts before publishing such insinuations and possibly slander. We would have appreciated if you had asked us your questions directly and we would have duly obliged. We would have not known you were asking them if someone had not indicated your blog.

We did not film in Għajn Tuffieħa; we filmed in Selmun. The viscous liquid you have seen in the promotion is not paint; it is milk, water and food colouring. That liquid was thrown on our models, we care for them and we care for our Islands. I would like to invite you to watch this episode on TVM next Sunday at 18:40 so that you can ascertain yourself that no trace was left on the slopes after we left.

We have been doing Venere for the past seven years. Practically all shots are taken on location and a very good number of the locations, we have had the privilege to shoot in, are pristine nature sites. We would not dare ruin them. We care for and really appreciate these locations and when we show them on national television we hope that more of our audience will grow to appreciate them, as we do.

Join the discussion

  1. Stanley Agius

    Dear Mr. Borg Micallef,

    I am part of the Venere production team. I would like to show my appreciation for your work in writing environment-related-articles. I have environmental issues at hearth as well and most often I think that such issues are either ignored or taken with a pinch of salt. Hence I would like to thank you for your invaluable contribution, especially since I am aware of the commitment one needs to be able to write blogs and articles with such frequency.

    However, I would like to kindly ask you to check your facts before publishing such insinuations and possibly slander. We would have appreciated if you had asked us your questions directly and we would have duly obliged. We would have not known you were asking them if someone had not indicated your blog.

    We did not film in Għajn Tuffieħa; we filmed in Selmun. The viscous liquid you have seen in the promotion is not paint; it is milk, water and food colouring. That liquid was thrown on our models, we care for them and we care for our Islands. I would like to invite you to watch this episode on TVM next Sunday at 18:40 so that you can ascertain yourself that no trace was left on the slopes after we left.

    We have been doing Venere for the past seven years. Practically all shots are taken on location and a very good number of the locations, we have had the privilege to shoot in, are pristine nature sites. We would not dare ruin them. We care for and really appreciate these locations and when we show them on national television we hope that more of our audience will grow to appreciate them, as we do.

    • Antoine Borg Micallef

      Thank you for your answer Mr Agius. I was hoping someone from the production team would reply to my queries!

      I am happy to hear that the production team has taken the necessary precautions to ensure that the shoot was as environmentally friendly as possible.

      As you may understand, it is very hard to check any facts from a promotional video, so I based my blog post on what I have seen as a member of the audience. I hardly think such a post is slanderous, after all I am simply interpreting the art and process behind it from what I have seen as a concerned member of the audience. I am confident that you can understand my disbelief at the images of what appears to be paint being thrown around a natural area.

      I am very happy that I was mistaken and that your production team take environmental protection seriously. It will be very difficult for me to see the show from London, but I would suggest that you issue a sort of disclaimer to notify the audience that the process behind the video shoot was done in without the use of toxic chemicals

      • Adrian J. Mizzi

        Dear Mr. Micallef,

        Still your headlines puts Venere in bad light. The least you can do is to write an update under your headlines, stating that your blog was all about assumptions !

  2. Antoine Borg Micallef

    If you actually read the post carefully, people would easily understand that I was making assumptions – hence the why I posed specific questions to the Venere production team which were duly answered. The majority of the post actually deals with the legal aspects of pollution, use of protected areas and filming. I don’t think I need to apologise or rewrite anything based on my interpretation of a video which alludes to paint being thrown about in a natural area. Next time there should put a disclaimer.

  3. Adrian j mizzi

    Pollution can also be done by means of writing by bloggers full of themselves,who lacks ” common sense” and proper investigations before they ridicule themsleves afterwards. Who the heck would accept of having ” toxic” paint thrown on himself ? I really would like to know how many hits you make on this site, if your journalism is like this. Also, I would like to know what type of expert are you if you did not even recalled Selmun, and mixed it up with Ghajn Tuffieha. Seems you need a ticket from London to come back and get more familiar with our landscapes.

    • Antoine Borg Micallef

      Many water based paints are not harmful on contact with skin, but they contain several chemicals that give paints their colour and consistency. You may want to read a bit about heavy metal pollution and VOCs – which are considered to be toxic to the environment. Well the promo supplied doesn’t who any detail apart from clay and sea, which looks pretty much similar to that in Ghajn Tuffieha. I have actually never been to Selmun, i’ll be sure to make a visit when I come back to Malta 🙂 (which won’t be too long hopefully!)

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