Fledgling Australian distributor Hopscotch has picked up Australian and New Zealand rights for its first local film.

Peaches got a greenlight from the Film Finance Corporation (FFC) this week and is to be directed by Craig Monahan from a script by television writer Sue Smith.

"Craig Monahan should have made another film a long time ago," says Troy Lum, adding that his debut feature The Interview was crowned best Australian film in the 1998 AFI Awards. "It is a great script and we think he will make a really good film."

The Point Blank Pictures has scheduled principal photography to start in March or April, and Canadian company Cinemavault Releasing will handle international sales. The South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) has made a modest equity investment alongside the FFC.

Peaches tracks three passionate, intertwined but very different love stories set in the early 1980s and late 1990s against a climate of economic rationalisation. The principal industry of the town in which the film is set is peach growing and canning. Jacqui McKenzie (Deep Blue Sea, Romper Stomper) has been cast as one of the four principal leads.

The Peaches team also includes Cinemavault chief Nick Stiliades as executive producer, Don Reynolds as producer alongside Monahan, and Ros Walker and former SAFC head Judith McCann as co-producers.

Hopscotch was formed early this year as a partnership between Lum and Frank Cox. It recently released local film Black And White but this was inherited from Cox's now defunct Newvision.