Oz Film Finance budgets $282 mil

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SYDNEY -- Australia's Film Finance Corp. on Thursday announced its largest-ever budget for film and television, ending 20 years of direct subsidies.

The slate includes 11 features, three TV dramas, two kids' TV dramas and 14 documentaries, with a total production value of AUS$310 million ($282 million).

The FFC announced the features and TV dramas it will fund in its final round before becomes part of new mega-agency Screen Australia in July, which will administer the new 40% producer rebate as the key financing mechanism for the industry.

Director Fred Schepisi has paid tribute to as a key source of funding for Australian films, before the organization shuts its doors in June, ending 20 years of direct government subsidies to Australian film and TV projects.

Schepisi, who will return to Australia for the first time in 20 years to co-produce and direct Vietnam War film "The Last Man," said financing the feature would have been "impossible" without the FFC.

"It has become increasingly difficult to finance independent films, not only in Australia but, everywhere in the world. Money has to be cobbled together from many sources, not always as reliable as they seem and almost always conditional on securing one of the 10 top international stars of the moment, a difficulty that has been exacerbated by the recent world wide tightening of credit and the threat of recession," Schepisi said.
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