Australian co-prod'n market expands

37 South: Bridging the Gap, launches new section

CANNES -- Australia's fledgling film co-financing market and the country's only one held during a festival, named 37 South: Bridging the Gap, is launching a new section to cater for local screenwriters and directors looking to meet the event's handpicked 70 producers from across Australia and New Zealand.

Organizers are extending the meet and greet as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) which kicks off July 24 this year with the film festival kicking off July 25 and running to Aug. 10.

The new section will be entitled 37 South: Postscript & Direct and will bolster local Melbourne industry activity.

Organizers also told THR it has given Mark Hartley's "Not Quite Hollywood" finishing funding from its Victoria state-backed Premiere film fund which supplies small amounts of cash essential to Australia and New Zealand productions such as completion bonds in exchange for the rights to unspool selected titles during the film festival – as well as a non-exclusive 12 month touring period after the event. The pic will take its worldwide bow at this year's event.

The fund has $1.2 million to spend across four rounds and only accepts applications from market-ready projects in advanced stages of financing. It has also backed Fred Schepsi's "The Last Man" from the same fund for its 2009 festival slate.

By extending the reach of the market for its second edition, event manager Mark Woods, who also manages the Premiere fund, aims to "create ever more opportunities" for filmmakers from down under.

Woods is currently in Cannes to speak to sales agents about the co-production event but stresses that only decision makers with cash get on the invitation list for the event.