Melbourne fest adds finance forum


SYDNEY -- The Melbourne International Film Festival will introduce a new film financing and networking forum this year, with eight to 10 key international sales agents, producers and financiers invited to meet with Australian filmmakers, festival director Richard Moore said Tuesday.

Dubbed "37 South: Bridging the Gap," the forum will take place July 26–28 during the early part of the 19-day festival and aims to provide an opportunity for potential partners to discuss and develop market-ready projects under the umbrella of the festival. The forum also will be open to publishers, who will be able to pitch books with film potential in conjunction with the Melbourne Writers Festival.

At the same time, the festival will choose projects for funding under the new MIFF Commissioning Fund, which will provide AUS$1.6 million ($1.3 million) over the next two years to Victorian filmmakers.

The fund has been designed as an equity investment fund for feature films and feature-length documentaries and will be an alternative to existing federal- and state-based funding programs. It will complement the government's recently announced range of film tax offsets.

Moore said that 37 South: Bridging the Gap is "an important continuation of MIFF's long-standing commitment to championing Australian filmmaking and to developing up and coming Australian filmmakers." It replaces the festival's previous Accelerator industry program.

The 2007 Melbourne International Film Festival runs July 25–Aug. 12. Full program details are to be announced June 20.