Melbourne fest launches market

37 South will run alongside MIFF

SYDNEY — Five months after receiving financial backing from the Victoria state government the Melbourne Film Fest is poised to launch its inaugural marketplace.

Dubbed 37 South, the event will run alongside MIFF, Oz’s oldest and most prestigious fest, staged in the center of Melbourne July 25-Aug. 12.

A dozen international sales and acquisitions exex will meet with domestic distribbers, investors and filmmakers to form new relationships and cut deals.

Event is fortuitously timed just two months after the Aussie government announced an overhaul of funding incentives designed to increase production of Oz films and television.

It also coincides with a general improvement in the quality of pics being produced in Oz. In recent years crix have praised “Ten Canoes,” “Look Both Ways,” “The Home Song Stories,” locals flocked to toilet comedy “Kenny” and strong international sales have been recorded for “Clubland” (WB) and “Wolf Creek” (The Weinstein Co.).

Par’s senior veep of co-pros and international acquisitions Ellen Pittleman will attend the market. Earlier this year Par established its own distribution shingle in Oz (following the dissolution of UIP) and signalled its intention to be more acquisitive.

Pittleman expects the event will enable her to “identify what differentiates Australian films from studio-generated material.”

“We hope some of these local stories will travel beyond borders to tap universal themes, yet that isn’t essential to our plan,” she tells Variety.

37 South will be the first fest visit for Lightning Ent’s. co-prexy Richard Guardian who anticipates the trip will eventually, if not immediately, result in him repping more pics from Oz.

Guardian says the event should enlighten local filmmakers about the international marketplace, “which in some cases is going to be a reality check.”

“What the international panellists might say will put the fear of God in some filmmakers and make them think hard about a different day job,” he says.

Organizers have planned two days of roundtable discussions, one-to-one meetings and open forums, with Oz publishers invited to participate in a breakfast where they can pitch books with cinematic potential to producers and screenwriters.

“Look Both Ways” thesp William McInnes will moderate the book event using case studies, including the upcoming film version of J. M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize winning novel “Disgrace” top-lined by John Malkovich.

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