The Australian Film Commission has joined with the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris to stage the largest showcase of Australian films ever assembled, comprising more than 100 titles and spanning four and half months.

“Australian Cinema 1900-1990″ is the single largest marketing initiative yet undertaken by the AFC, costing around $A550,000 – almost half the Commission’s annual marketing budget. Dept. of Foreign Affairs is also assisting.

Aim is to boost Australia’s film profile in France, which remains one of the hardest key markets for Oz films to crack. And the Aussie pics that do get theatrical release there – major titles such as “Crocodile Dundee” – often aren’t recognized as Australian, says assistant marketing director Victoria Treole.

“Australian product has no public life there. We want to give the French broadcasters, media and public the opportunity to see a range of films from Australia they wouldn’t normally be able to see.” French media interest has already begun with a delegation of journalists coming Down Under during April to report on the industry.

Showcase, running May 29-Oct. 14, will span 90 years of filmmaking, including some of the earliest film footage ever shot. It features a comprehensive array of silent films, and sections covering the 1930s, foreign films made in Oz, and “The Renaissance,” featuring the works of Australia’s best known directors – such as Bruce Beresford, Fred Schepisi, and Dr. George Miller – over the past 20 years.

Weir retro

There’s also a retrospective on Peter Weir, as Australia’s best known helmer, and a tribute to John Farrow, expatriate helmer who worked in Hollywood from the late 1920s to the 1950s. A batch of shorts, newsreels and docus also feature.

Season will almost exclusively tie up the prestigious Pompidou Center; its participation in the venture is to supply the venue, ancillary facilities and oversee the publication of a comprehensive 280-page guide to Oz film, first such work to be published in French.

Venture will be launched to media at Cannes, and former prime minister Gough Whitlam will head the official opening delegation after Cannes. A sprinkling of VIPs will be attending during the season to maintain momentum and Weir will open his retro. AFC reps at the opening will include chairman Chris Noonan and chief exec Cathy Robinson as well as marketing director Sue Murray and Treole.

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