Campion's 'Star' shines over last-ever FFC slate

22 projects get funds before merger

Director Jane Campion's latest feature, "Bright Star," received the green light for funding from the Film Finance Corp. Australia on Thursday. It's part of an eclectic slate that will usher in the final year of the agency's operations.

"Star," an Australian-British co-production that charts the ill-fated love affair between 18-year-old Fanny Brawne and the English romantic poet John Keats, will see Campion reignite her partnership with producer Jan Chapman, with whom she won the 1993 Palme d'Or for "The Piano."

Co-producing "Star" is U.K. producer Caroline Hewitt, while Hopscotch Films and Pathe Films are distributing.

The new FFC slate, which marks the beginning of the final year before it merges with the Australian Film Commission and Film Australia in July 2008, includes four other features, five adult TV dramas, three children's dramas and nine documentaries.

Among those receiving funding is "Two Fists, One Heart," a biopic about boxer Rai Fazio, who has co-written the screenplay with Jan Sardi. David Elfick is producing through his Palm Beach Pictures shingle, hiring helmer Shawn Seet for his debut feature. Buena Vista International and Hanway Films are distributing and pay TV movie channel Showtime has pre-bought the film.

Also funded by the FFC — and backed by Arclight Films — is "Long Weekend," a thriller from writer Everett De Rache and director Jamie Blanks.

FFC money also went to "Subdivision," Freshwater Picture's comedy about the battle within a family and the local community when developers move in on the idyllic Queensland town of Hervey Bay. Lightning Entertainment, Buena Vista Australia, Reyna Films and Motion Picture Distribution LP are distributing.

Richard Frankland's road movie "To Hell and Bourke," which will be produced by Ross Hutchison with presales to SBS Independent and Lightning Entertainment, also got the agency's green light.

Six other feature films received letters of intent from the FFC, which promises funding if certain other financing, presales or distribution agreements are made.

Television dramas funded in this round include the second season of the Nine Network hit "Sea Patrol"; ABC TV miniseries "The Cut"; SBS TV miniseries "Carla Cametti PD"; Network Ten crime drama "The Informant," from production company Screentime and a Nine Network and Granada International telefilm; and "Scorched," from the Essential Viewing Group.