Italy’s Checco Zalone accused of abusing migrants on film set

African migrants hired as extras in an Italian film were subjected to ill treatment allegedly in order to create more realistic scenes, according to local media.

Italy's Checco Zalone accused of abusing migrants on film set
Italian actor and filmmaker Checco Zalone on the set of his latest film. Photo: Checco Zalone/Facebook

Italian filmmaker Checco Zalone, famed for his popular comedies, reportedly hired some 70 migrants living in Malta, including four children, while shooting his new movie “Tolo Tolo”.

The Times of Malta newspaper cited members of the film crew as saying that 60 people, most of whom could not swim, were left without water for six hours on a boat in the sun without being allowed to take toilet breaks.

At one point a pregnant woman began to panic and the crew took her to shore. At least four crew members reportedly resigned after the incident.

“Their lives were at risk,” one of the crew members told the paper. “I was terrified for their safety.”

Migrants were made to relive their ordeal at sea to create “more realistic” scenes, according to former film crew members. File photo: AFP

Maltese production company Halo Pictures, which is coordinating the filming in Malta, denied any ill treatment, saying local employment law was followed and all health and safety checks had been carried out.

The Italian producers were quoted as saying that the allegations had “come out of nowhere”.

The newspaper said Halo Pictures CEO Engelbert Grech dismissed the claims as an attempt at sabotage by a single disgruntled former employee, one of those who had quit.

Several crew members told the newspaper of their suspicions that the ill treatment was aimed at getting more realistic reactions from the extras.

“They're making these migrants relive what they've been through without any sensitivity and without a care in the world,” one crew member was quoted as saying by the paper. 

The Malta Film Commission, which encourages filming on the tiny Mediterranean archipelago, said it had launched an investigation into the claims.


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