Development agency the Australian Film Commission (AFC) will finally be able to test its "matched" development scheme on Bennelong, an epic tale to be directed by Bill Bennett and set soon after the arrival of Europeans in Australia.
The scheme aims to find extra sources of much-needed development cash by matching AFC money with private sector finance on a dollar-for-dollar basis. It has been in existence, in various forms, for some years but has never been utilised. In this case the private investor is Stewart MacLennan, co-founder of one of Australia's leading design and post-production houses Garner MacLennan Design (GMD), but the scheme is also available to offshore entities.
MacLennan has tipped $26,000 (A$50,000) into the development of Bennelong and will take a producer credit alongside Jennifer and Bill Bennett. The writer is Nick Enright who co-wrote Lorenzo's Oil with George Miller. Bill Bennett directed Kiss Or Kill, which was voted Australia's best film in 1997, and is currently in New Orleans making the US film Tempted.
Bennelong is named after the Aboriginal man whom Governor Phillip tried to "civilise" so that he would became a bridge between the two cultures. Their relationship changed after Bennelong's decision to accompany Phillip on a trip to London. Films with indigenous themes have become part of Australia's film-making landscape in recent years. This one has been in development for some time.