Germany's Arsenal Film will collaborate with Odeon Film on the local release of Philip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence which was one of the big winners at the Australian Film Institute's Awards at the weekend and honoured by the US National Board of Review last week.

The film's executive producer David Elfick told during the '21st Century Oz' showcase of New Australian Cinema in Berlin at the weekend that the German pre-buy to Odeon in summer 2000 had been a crucial element in the financing package.

'Odeon had a relationship with Hanway Films which was great for us because suddenly we had a significant sale a week or so after Hanway signing up [to handle international sales] which impressed all of our backers', recalled Elfick who was visiting Berlin with directors Robert Connolly (The Bank) and Anna-Maria Monticelli (La Spagnola) for the showcase.

Meanwhile, Odeon Film's executive board member Reinhard Klooss, who was behind the license deal for Rabbit-Proof Fence, has announced that he will step down from the board at the end of the year to return to full-time production. Klooss will nevertheless continue co-ordinating Odeon Film's feature film activities.

Under Klooss' management, Odeon Film was involved as a co-producer or producer in such films as Gregor Jordan's Buffalo Soldiers - which flopped badly for Prokino last month , and Joseph Vilsmaier's Leo & Claire which also performed disappointingly.

However, more positive results are expected from the next adaptation of an Erich Kaestner children's book, Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer by Tomy Wigand, which is being released by Constantin Film on January 16, and Robert Schwentke's comedy Eierdiebe which will be released by Tobis next year and could possibly screen during the forthcoming Berlinale.