A year after launching itself in Australia as a distributor, Transmission Films is proving to be a good friend to New Zealand as well as Australian filmmakers.

Principals Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten have acquired New Zealand rights to both The Volcano, local writer/director Taika Waititi's follow-up to Eagle vs Shark, and Tracker, a New Zealand/UK film set at the turn of the century and to star Ray Winstone and Temuera Morrison.

The Volcano is inspired by Waititi's Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars One Night and goes into production in March. It focuses on how 11-year-old Darcy must reconcile his memories and fantasies with reality after his father returns home after seven years, then find his own potential.

Transmission describes Waititi as one of the country's youngest and brightest voices. His producers are actor Cliff Curtis and Ainsley Gardiner and the financing has come from the New Zealand Film Fund, the NZ Film Commission, Unison Films, NZ On Air and Te Mangai Paho, which provides funding for Maori projects. New Zealand Film is handling international sales.

Tracker is to be directed by the UK's Ian Sharp but not until later this year. The script by Nicolas Van Pallandt is set at the turn of the century and tells of a South African ex-Boer War guerilla and the Maori man he is sent to capture to answer charges of killing a British soldier. The film will explore the courage and strength required to be a good man.

Sharp directed Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage Wars, has made many hours of television and was second unit director on the seventeenth Bond film GoldenEye. David Burns is producing for Eden Films and Trevor Haysom is the co-producer.

Transmission and Paramount, which provides backing for Transmission, will shortly be releasing the NZ/UK Edwardian drama Dean Spanley in both Australia and New Zealand.

Payten and Mackie, who recently ran Dendy Films, are also lining up several Australian films for release this year. Included is Rachel Perkins' indigenous musical Bran Nue Day, the father-and-son story Charlie & Boots starring Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson, who had the title role in Kenny, and David Caesar's new film Prime Mover.

Films recently acquired by Transmission from outside the region include Che, Steven Soderbergh two-film portrait of Argentinean revolutionary Che Guevara, and An Education, the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl in London in the 1960s which was directed by Lone Scherfig from a Nick Hornby script.