Thesp to co-star with Henderson in Woods pic

SYDNEY– Cate Blanchett will return home to star in “Little Fish,” her first Oz film since the Fox-produced “Oscar and Lucinda” in 1997.

Thesp will play a woman who struggles to escape her past in the pic set in the Little Saigon district of Sydney’s western suburbs for helmer Rowan Woods (“The Boys”). Martin Henderson (“The Ring”) will co-star. Pic is due to roll mid-year after the birth of Blanchett’s child.

Myriad Pictures is handling international rights to the pic, produced by Porchlight Films’ Vincent Sheehan, which secured funding Wednesday from the Films Finance Corp.

In an initiative designed to support bigger-budgeted films and to attract more coin from private investors, the FFC is providing distribution guarantees to “Little Fish” and “Jindabyne,” helmer Ray Lawrence’s follow-up to “Lantana.”

Mel Gibson’s Icon is putting up an advance against world rights for “Jindabyne,” a psychological drama following three men who trek into mountain country on a fishing trip and discover the body of a murdered girl.

An offer is out to Toni Collette for the female lead; producers are Catherine Jarman and Barrie M. Osborne (the “Lord of the Rings” pics).

Blanchett’s agent, Robyn Gardiner, said the FFC’s new funding model would enable local artists who have international careers to return home to work with Australian filmmakers.

The FFC also approved investment in first-time director Sarah Watt’s “Life Story,” a pic blending animation with live action about four people grappling with unexpected and life-changing news; Footprint Films is the Oz distrib and Maze/Fortissimo has international rights.

“One Perfect Day,” helmed by Paul Currie and starring Kerry Armstrong, Dan Spielman and Leeanna Walsman, will get a marketing loan from the FFC. Roadshow will distribute Down Under and Odyssey Entertainment is handling foreign rights.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more