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UKFC boosts female talent

Campion, Arnold, McKinnon films backed

The U.K. Film Council is backing a trio of femme filmmakers by investing coin in new projects from Jane Campion, Andrea Arnold and Morag McKinnon.

All three pics will get funding through the U.K. Film Council’s New Cinema Fund.

Campion’s “Bright Star,” which started production March 31, charts the ill-fated love affair between 19th century English poet John Keats and his 18-year-old muse Fanny Brawne. Brit thesp Ben Whitshaw plays the role of Keats with Abbie Cornish taking on the role of Brawne.

Pathe, Film Finance Corp. Australia, New South Wales Film and TV Office and BBC Films have all backed the project. Pathe will distribute the pic in the U.K. and France and handle international sales.

Arnold’s sophomore feature “Fish Tank,” currently in pre-production, has been acquired by Artificial Eye in the U.K. Kees Kasander is producing with Paul Trijbits serving as exec producer. BBC Films and Limelight have backed the project.

McKinnon makes her feature directorial debut with “Rounding up Donkeys,” a dramedy written by Colin McLaren (“Home”).

Pic is the second project in the Advance Party collaboration between Sigma Films and Zentropa following on from Arnold’s debut feature “Red Road,” which won the jury prize at Cannes in 2006. Thesps Kate Dickie and Martin Compston, who both starred in “Red Road,” will reprise their roles for “Rounding up Donkeys,” which focuses on a man faced with a life-threatening illness who attempts to make up for his past mistakes.

“I hope this encourages other women who want to progress their writing and directing careers,” said New Cinema Fund topper Lenny Crooks.

Both “Bright Star” and “Fish Tank” received $1.1 million from the U.K. Film Council, with “Rounding up Donkeys” receiving $700,000.

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