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Oz looks for more laffers

Film Finance Corp. calls for more diversity

SYDNEY — The chief executive of the Australian government’s film funder, the Film Finance Corp., which part-finances most domestic films, is urging producers to develop a more varied selection of films from different genres.

Brian Rosen says the Aussie industry went into drama overdrive after an avalanche of comedies failed to score with crix or auds. This year at least 18 Australian films will be released and there’s only one comedy among them, “BoyTown,” from “Crackerjack” creator Mick Molloy.

The FFC used to fund all projects that fit its financing criteria but now assessors trawl for strong projects. Tait Brady says in the 18 months he’s been doing that job, only five of 70 projects submitted were comedies, two were kid pics and there were no musicals or romantic comedies.

“We do want diversity, and we’re starting to get there,” Rosen told Variety.

He is pleased 2005 releases “Irresistible” and “Like Minds” are thrillers.

However, he was disappointed that when feature-length docs became popular, producers didn’t bombard the FFC with concepts. Instead the FFC called for ideas and this year at least one doc is planned, “Hunt Angels,” from “Japanese Story” producer Sue Maslin.

“We’re not seeing any musicals,” Rosen says. “Family pics are something we’re going to do a big push on.” In future funding rounds “we’re going to give preference to children’s films.”

“Elephant Tales,” the only kids’ film financed by the FFC in recent years, couldn’t even find a local distributor despite creator Mario Andreacchio’s success with “Napoleon,” a family film and one of the few FFC-financed projects that has made a profit.

Rosen says the FFC will take the unusual step of sub-distributing the locally made kids films itself if that’s what’s required to ensure local auds have the opportunity to see them.

“I’ve seen letters to the editor from parents asking why, during school holidays, all the family films come from Hollywood,” Rosen says. “It’s their money we’re spending so we should be trying to rectify that.”

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