Becker International hassigned on to handle worldwide sales on the planned animated feature Mary & Max from Oscar winner AdamElliot.

The writer/director won anAcademy Award in 2004 for his short film HarvieKrumpet. His new project is backed by Becker alongside Australiandistributor and sister company, Dendy Films.

Becker head Iain Canningwill be talking up the claymation film at AFM inNovember. It tells the tale of the 20-year relationship between two verydifferent pen pals: Mary Dinkle, a lonely girl in Melbourne, and New Yorker MaxHorovitz. Toni Collette will be the voice of Mary - the US actor behind Max has not yet been named -- andcomedian Barry Humphries will be the narrator.

Film Finance Corporation Australia signalled its intention to support the film in June onthe proviso that certain conditions were met by producer Melanie Coombs ofMelodrama Pictures, who also produced HarvieKrumpet.

'My storytelling styleis deliberately innocent and yet not naive,' Elliot said. 'Like thelittle kid who points to a disabled person and asks 'Mum why has that man onlygot one leg'' - the questions and observations arecorrect, honest and importantly come without judgement or prejudice.

'Like Harvie Krumpet, Mary & Max is aimed primarily atadults and young people. However, such is the lure of animation,that children will still engage with the film on another level.'

Elliot also made the shortfilms Uncle, Cousin and Brother. Along with Harvie Krumpet they have screened at more than 500 festivals andwon over 100 awards.

Australia has had a number of short films nominated forAcademy Awards in recent years but, apart from the work of Yoram Gross, rarelymakes feature-length animated projects. However, production is almost finishedon the big-budget Happy Feet, a jointventure between special effects powerhouse Animal Logic, production houseKennedy Miller, Village Roadshow and Warner Bros.