'Sex' to open fourth Adelaide Film Fest

Festival-funded films spotlighted in biannual gathering

SYDNEY -- Sarah Watts' sophomore feature, "My Year Without Sex," will open the Adelaide Film Festival on Feb. 19, one of nine Australian features premiering at the biannual festival's fourth edition.

"Sex" was funded by the festival's unique AFF Investment Fund, a vehicle that has provided a starting point for the financing of several successful Australian features, including Rolf de Heer's "Ten Canoes" and Watts' first feature, "Look Both Ways."

The fund provides local productions with equity investment of AUS$1,000,000 ($670,000) over a two-year period. In return, the fund requires that the films have their world premieres at the festival.

"Rather than just passively screening films produced elsewhere, this film festival is quite unique in actually investing in films at every stage along the creative process," South Australian Premier Mike Rann said. "These broader impacts are critical to the festival's original intent to foster and nourish creative talent."

Eleven films backed by the fund will screen this year, including Glendyn Ivin's debut feature, "Last Ride"; Granaz Moussavi's "My Tehran For Sale," shot entirely in Iran; Kriv Stenders' "Home"; and Warwick Thornton's "Samson and Delilah."

The festival, which runs through March 1, will feature 23 world premieres and 62 Australian premieres.

International films making their Aussie debut include "Laila's Birthday" (Palestine), Gu Changwei's "And the Spring Comes" (China), Matteo Garrone's "Gomorrah" (Italy) and Ryosuke Hashiguchi's "All Around Us" (Japan).

A seven-member jury led by film curator Laurence Kardish of the Museum of Modern Art in New York will choose the best feature from 13 films nominated for the international prize.

Additionally, a special prize will be awarded to producer Jan Chapman ("Lantana," "The Piano") in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry.

In total, more than 143 films from 49 countries during the festival, which will wrap with Stephan Elliott's U.K.-produced feature "Easy Virtue."