Australian independentdistributors, including Hopscotch, sister companies Dendy and Becker, and MagnaPacific, have been acquiring ever more product lately for their own territoryand New Zealand.

DVD distributor MagnaPacific has broken free of the Becker Entertainment Group and is ramping up itstheatrical activities through the all-rights acquisition of up to 12 genrepictures per year.

It recently signed for BubbaHo-Tep (from sales agent Starway Films), a horror film featuring Elvis andJFK, Irish romantic zombie comedy Boy Eats Girl (Odyssey Entertainment),New Zealand vampire chiller Perfect Creature (NZ Film), and the USromantic comedy Just Friends (Inferno Distribution), from CruelIntentions director Roger Kumble.

The documentary FestivalExpress, the first title directly distributed by the company, is in cinemasnow and features never-before-seen performances of such rock legends as JanisJoplin, The Band and The Grateful Dead.

Executive director LeonConingham has recruited Brenden Maher to the new role of national sales managerfor exhibition and television. Mahrer is a former group programming managerwith Australian Multiplex Cinemas.

Dendy has acquired thenot-yet-shot Goodnight. And Good Luck (2929 International), a study ofcourageous journalism during the McCarthy era and written, directed and to starGeorge Clooney with Steven Soderbergh producing, and the documentary InsideDeep Throat (Summit), an exploration of the very adult 1970s film DeepThroat, produced by Brian Grazer.

The mainstream distributionarm, Becker Entertainment, has also jumped aboard The World's Fastest Indian,which stars Anthony Hopkins and is currently in production in neighbouring NewZealand. It was acquired from NZ Film, which is sharing rights with OLC/RightsEntertainment.

Hopscotch's four new titlesinclude Notting Hill director Roger Michell's Enduring Love (Paramount)from the Ian McEwan best-seller, and the period film A Good Woman(Beyond), based on the Oscar Wilde play Lady Windemere's Fan andstarring Helen Hunt, Scarlett Johansson and Tom Wilkinson.

It also reached for thecheque book for the documentary Murderball (Think Films), set in thehighly competitive world of quadriplegic rugby, and director Stephen Frears' MrsHenderson Presents (Pathe), starring Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins andbased on a society figure who founded the historic Windmill Theatre inpre-World War II London.