Berlinale: Entebbe hijacking movie films in Malta

True-life plane hijacking movie 7 Days in Entebbe used Malta as a stand-in for Entebbe in Uganda. The film launched at Berlinale.

True-life plane hijacking movie 7 Days in Entebbe used Malta as a stand-in for Entebbe in Uganda. The film launched at Berlinale.

Jose Padilha’s film tells the story of an Air France plane flying from Tel Aviv to Paris in 1976 that was hijacked by two Palestinians and a pair of sympathisers to their cause.

Berlinale: Entebbe hijacking movie films in Malta
7 Days in Entebbe

Diverted to Entebbe, the plane spent days on the tarmac at an abandoned airport terminal while the Israeli military secretly planned an ambitious rescue of their citizens.

The 7 Days production team built the Entebbe airport terminal as a physical set, given Padilha’s desire to avoid the over-use of visual effects as he sought a documentary feel to the on-screen drama.

“It took a lot of scouting various locations to figure out what would be best for filming the terminal scenes,” says Michelle Wright, one of the film’s producers.

“That’s because we had to work with very large airplanes, like C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. Malta turned out to be a great choice.

“In Malta we had a crew of about 138 and 60 of them were involved with physical construction. They built a perfect replica of the original Entebbe terminal in seven and a half weeks, which would’ve taken much longer in other places. It was a tremendous effort.”

Production designer Kave Quinn used archive photos and film footage to make sure the set was as real and accurate as possible. Given that they were building on the grounds of a Maltese airport, Quinn also had to comply with building regulations that meant using a steel frame and firm foundations.

7 Days in Entebbe


Malta is well established as a popular Mediterranean filming hub. The island nation offers generous filming incentive support and is an easy double for Middle Eastern and African settings. The country recently stood in for Libya in Michael Bay’s military action movie 13 Hours and appeared in a few scenes as Jerusalem in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

7 Days in Entebbe


Filming in functioning airports – especially on runways and taxiways – can be a logistical challenge for filmmakers, often because of imposed security protocols.

Marvel Studios shot a key action sequence for Captain America: Civil War at the airport in Leipzig, eastern Germany. However, airport guidelines meant that only half the usual number of technical crew was allowed past checkpoints at any one time.

In contrast, the generic visuals on offer in the check-in and arrival areas of modern airports around the world can be beneficial for producers.

For action movie Jason Bourne, public areas of the airport on the Spanish island of Tenerife doubled for airports in Athens and Reykjavik. All that was needed were a few minor signage changes and the addition of, respectively, Greek and Icelandic public announcements in the film’s final sound mix.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Malta.

Images: Focus Features/Entertainment One

Berlinale: Entebbe hijacking movie films in Malta
7 Days in Entebbe

True-life plane hijacking movie 7 Days in Entebbe used Malta as a stand-in for Entebbe in Uganda. The film launched at Berlinale.

Jose Padilha’s film tells the story of an Air France plane flying from Tel Aviv to Paris in 1976 that was hijacked by two Palestinians and a pair of sympathisers to their cause.

Diverted to Entebbe, the plane spent days on the tarmac at an abandoned airport terminal while the Israeli military secretly planned an ambitious rescue of their citizens.

The 7 Days production team built the Entebbe airport terminal as a physical set, given Padilha’s desire to avoid the over-use of visual effects as he sought a documentary feel to the on-screen drama.

“It took a lot of scouting various locations to figure out what would be best for filming the terminal scenes,” says Michelle Wright, one of the film’s producers.

“That’s because we had to work with very large airplanes, like C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. Malta turned out to be a great choice.

“In Malta we had a crew of about 138 and 60 of them were involved with physical construction. They built a perfect replica of the original Entebbe terminal in seven and a half weeks, which would’ve taken much longer in other places. It was a tremendous effort.”

Production designer Kave Quinn used archive photos and film footage to make sure the set was as real and accurate as possible. Given that they were building on the grounds of a Maltese airport, Quinn also had to comply with building regulations that meant using a steel frame and firm foundations.

7 Days in Entebbe


Malta is well established as a popular Mediterranean filming hub. The island nation offers generous filming incentive support and is an easy double for Middle Eastern and African settings. The country recently stood in for Libya in Michael Bay’s military action movie 13 Hours and appeared in a few scenes as Jerusalem in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

7 Days in Entebbe


Filming in functioning airports – especially on runways and taxiways – can be a logistical challenge for filmmakers, often because of imposed security protocols.

Marvel Studios shot a key action sequence for Captain America: Civil War at the airport in Leipzig, eastern Germany. However, airport guidelines meant that only half the usual number of technical crew was allowed past checkpoints at any one time.

In contrast, the generic visuals on offer in the check-in and arrival areas of modern airports around the world can be beneficial for producers.

For action movie Jason Bourne, public areas of the airport on the Spanish island of Tenerife doubled for airports in Athens and Reykjavik. All that was needed were a few minor signage changes and the addition of, respectively, Greek and Icelandic public announcements in the film’s final sound mix.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Malta.

Images: Focus Features/Entertainment One

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