Tony Ayres is attached to direct Scratch The Surface, which is inspired by the murder of two-year-old James Bulger, who was brutally murdered by the two youngsters that calmly lead him away from a UK shopping centre 15 years ago.

The film is one of ten projects given the thumbs up from selectors for the financing market SPAAmart, being held on November 13 and 14 alongside the annual conference of the Screen Producers Association of Australia on Queensland 's Gold Coast.

'The film is inspired by that event but is conjecture,' Ayres told today. 'The story is about a guy in his late teens who is trying to come back into the world after being institutionalised. He goes to the caravan park that was the scene of the crime to face the ghosts of the past... It also deals with the culprit in the crime that was never accused.'

Articles in the Australian media claimed that the killers, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who were both only ten years of age at the time, were being rehabilitated in Australia after their release.

Scratch The Surface is from first-time feature writer Grant Scicluna. Trevor Blainey (Noise) and Jannine Barnes are producing. Ayres last year won the Australian Film Institute and Inside Film Awards for best director for his work on the autobiographical The Home Song Stories.

Organisers say the projects were chosen from a larger, more diverse and well-developed field than usual: 'Those selected have an eye for an audience and are terrific examples of their genres.'

From Australia are:

Scratch The Surface : Trevor Blainey, Jannine Barnes, producers; Grant Scicluna, writer; Tony Ayres, director.

The End Of Anxiety : Ian Iveson, producer; Michelle Harrison, exective producer; Marty Murphy, writer/director.

Galore : Philippa Campey, producer; Rhys Graham, writer/director.

Mei Mei : Penny Carl, Lesley Stevens, producers; Pauline Chan, writer/director.

Beneath Hill 60 : Bill Leimbach, producer; David Roach, writer; Jeremy Sims, director.

Black Swan : Ros Walker, producer; Stuart Page, writer, Jonathon Teplitzky, director.

Pangs : Robert Raymond, Leah Wright, producers; Greg Woodland, writer/director.

From New Zealand are

Capsized : James Heyward, producer; Stephanie Johnson, writer; Mark Joffe, director.

One Of Us : Arani Cuthbert, producer; Philippa Campbell, executive producer; Norelle Scott, writer; Chris Dudman, director.

Amatu : Leanne Saunders, Glenn Elliott, producers; Matt Saville, writer; Marc Swadel and Paul Swadel, directors.