Melbourne fest lines up finance forum


SYDNEY -- The Melbourne International Film Festival has attracted a dozen key international buyers and distributors to its inaugural financing forum, dubbed 37 South: Bridging the Gap, organizers said Wednesday.

Outgoing Ausfilm CEO Mark Woods, the forum's consulting manager, said the festival, which begins July 25 and runs for 19 days, has chosen a select group of experienced and emerging Australian producers to pitch projects to buyers and acquisition executives as part of a variety of festival events.

The participating producers -- including John Maynard, Liz Watts, Bridget Ikin, Michael McMahon and David Redman -- will meet with such studio and independent buyers as Paramount Pictures International's Ellen Pittleman, Sundance Channel's Gail Gendler, ContentFilm International's Beatrice Neumann and Lightning Entertainment's Richard Guardian.

Woods said the aim of the new forum was to "advance Australian film projects by putting selected local producers and key international financiers face-to-face in the context of Australia's largest public film festival."

The forum also will allow international and local financiers to discuss how they may use the Australian government's new film funding structures, Woods said.

Other participating buyers will include Tom Strudwick of the Works, Ashley Luke from Fortissimo Films, A3 Crosby International Film Fund co-founder Simone Govic, Highpoint Media Group's Piers Nightingale, Kathleen Drumm of NZ Films, Myriad Pictures' Kirk D'Amico, Becker International's Iain Canning, and Rachel Connors of Slingshot.

In addition, the film festival will partner with the Melbourne Writers Festival to allow publishers and writers to pitch their books to producers and screenwriters at a one-day forum July 26.