Made in Malta

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A €50 million ($71 million) film budget is worth noting just about anywhere. But in the tiny island nation of Malta, it's historical.

"Agora," the latest drama from Alejandro Amenabar, is a Spanish production set in fourth century Egypt. But what will be less obvious when the film premieres in October is that it was made entirely in Malta, in part with the backing of the Malta Film Commission, which contributed around a tenth of the film's total budget.

Malta seems to have a knack for ancient historical dramas, as it also provided the sets used for parts of "Gladiator" and "Troy." But "Agora" -- which stars Rachel Weisz as the sexy astronomer and temptress Hypatia -- has taken that to a new level.

The commission's rules require that the money it provides from a fund with no official cap be spent in Malta, a requirement that was no problem for "Agora," which shot from start to finish in Malta. After producers decided on Malta over a half a dozen other sites, work was enormous, going as far as re-creating parts of ancient Alexandria and its famous library for the film.
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