Film finance market 37 South secures backing

'Balibo' one of the projects set for Melbourne fest's market

More Berlinale coverage

BERLIN -- Australian film financing market 37 South: Bridging the Gap -- held each year during the Melbourne International Film Festival -- has secured another two years of Victoria state funding.

Organizers of the highly targeted meet and greet, which puts 70 handpicked Australian and New Zealand producers face to face with a raft of sales companies and financiers, told The Hollywood Reporter that the size, scale and quality of projects coming to them is on the rise.

Robert Connolly's "Balibo," starring Anthony La Paglia and Oscar Isaac, is one of the high-profile titles that has been given finishing funding from its Victoria state backed Premiere film fund run by MIFF.

It centers on two war correspondents in East Timor who are investigating the 1975 murders of five Aussie journalists during the Indonesian invasion.

The fund 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 and a nonexclusive 12-month touring period after the event.

Six of the 10 world premieres at MIFF's 2008 edition were projects which had secured Premiere Fund cash, event and fund manager Mark Woods said.

Woods is in Berlin to speak to sales agents and producers about the co-production event and in looking to forge more international partnerships for 37 South.

MIFF chair Claire Dobbin, also in Berlin, said the event's board has also been boosted by the appointment of Roadshow Film Distributors chief Joel Pearlman.

"Joel brings an impressive reputation and a dynamic energy to the board and has been a great supporter of MIFF over the years," Dobbin said.

The fund has just over $500,000 to spend across four rounds and only accepts applications from market-ready projects in advanced stages of financing.

"We managed to spread the cash across 14 different films, which I think is pretty good going," Woods said.