Australia Film Finance funding new slate


SYDNEY -- A new Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward film, two U.K.-Australian co-productions and an American independent film starring Geena Davis are the latest features to receive funding from Australia's Film Finance Corp.

The new slate of films, TV dramas and documentaries announced late Thursday total AUS$73 million ($63 million). They have received a mix of direct funding from the FFC, along with the newly instituted 40% producer offset, triggering 22 projects, the largest number to be financed by the agency in its history.

"With the introduction of the producers offset, filmmakers are now empowered to get stronger deals together. This has led to many more projects being presented to the board than we can finance, but that is a sign of a healthy, dynamic and energized industry," FFC CEO Brian Rosen said.

Director Scott Hicks will return to Australia to make the big-budget U.K.-co production "The Boys Are Back in Town," based on the memoir of U.K. sportswriter Simon Carr. Clive Owen is attached to star in the bittersweet comedy as Joe, who is thrust into single parenthood, forced to look after his two sons from different marriages. Gregg Brennan is the U.K. producer, and Tim White is producing in Australia, with Hicks directing from a script by Allan Cubbitt. Distribution is being handled by Hopscotch Films in Australia, BBC Films, Capitol Films and Miramax.

Australian actress Ward makes her writing and directing debut with "Beautiful Kate," with Leah Churchill Brown and Bryan Brown, Ward's husband, producing. Bryan Brown also will star in the film, which centers on Ned Kendall, who returns to his isolated family home to say goodbye to his dying father, only to have long-buried secrets from the family's past awakened by memories of his beautiful sister. Roadshow Films is handling Australian distribution, and the Works has international rights.

While Andrew Lancaster's directorial debut, "Accidents Happen," is considered an American film, the production executives and the bulk of the funding is Australian. The Connecticut-based story, with Davis attached, will be shot in Sydney next year. Brian Carbee has written the screenplay about accident-prone 15-year old Billy Conway, who must face up to his family's history after causing an almighty crash with a bowling ball and a car.

A second Australian-U.K. co-production is "Triangle," a psychological thriller set in the Bermuda Triangle. Queensland-based producer Chris Brown and the U.K.'s Jason Newmark are producing the project written and directed by Christopher Smith, with Icon Films distributing.

Writer-director David Caesar's latest feature, "Prime Mover," about the love shared between a man, a woman and his truck has also received funding.

Eight other features have been asked to return to the agency with distribution and presale agreements before the FFC gives a green light.