Academy-Award nominee Cate Blanchett is set to return Australia early next year to work on one of the features in a new slate of films approved by the Film Finance Corporation Australia (FFC).

Blanchett will play the lead in Little Fish, a drama set in 'Little Saigon' in Sydney's western suburbs, which will be the second feature film from Australian director Rowan Woods (The Boys).

Martin Henderson, who recently featured in box office hit The Ring, will play alongside Blanchett. The project is the second feature financed by the FFC to come through the NSW Film and Television Office's Aurora script development workshop.

Little Fish has been supported through the FFC's new distribution guarantee model, which is designed to attract more private sector investment in Australian film and television production.

Lantana director Ray Lawrence has also received backing for Jindabyne, a suspenseful, psychological drama following the journey of three men who trek into wild, mountain country for an annual fishing trip and find the body of a murdered girl.

Jindabyne will be produced by Catherine Jarman and Barrie Osborne, the New Zealand-based producer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Jindabyne has an advance against world rights from Mel Gibson's company Icon Film Distribution and is expected to secure two internationally prominent actors in lead roles. The film has also been supported through the FFC's new distribution guarantee model.

The new FFC slate also includes first-time director Sarah Watt working alongside producer Bridget Ikin (An Angel at my Table, Floating Life) on Life Story. Watt has won awards for her animated short films and Life Story will contain several animated sequences amidst the live action. The film follows four people grappling with unexpected and life-changing news; wondering whether their fate is deserved or earned, and how happiness might be possible.

The FFC has also approved a marketing loan for the feature One Perfect Day, produced by Phil Gregory, Paul Currie and Charles Moreton and director Paul Currie (Lionheart: The Jessie Martin Story). It stars Kerry Armstrong (Lantana, Seachange), Dan Spielman (The Secret Life of Us) and Leeanna Walsman (Looking for Alibrandi, Love is a Four Letter Word).

In all, the new FFC slate includes four feature films, one children's drama series and two documentaries.

FFC slate - Feature Films

Little Fish
Porchlight Films
Producer: Vincent Sheehan
Co-producer: Liz Watts
Director: Rowan Woods
Writer: Jacquelin Perske
Sales & Distribution: Icon Film Distribution, Myriad Pictures
Synopsis: Set in Little Saigon in Sydney's Western suburbs, Cate Blanchett plays Tracy Heart: a little fish swimming against the pull of the past. A story about families, love and lies, and finding happiness.

RGM Films and Next Door
Executive producers: Bruce Davey, Richard Keddie, Devesh Chetty
Producers: Catherine Jarman, Barrie M Osborne
Director: Ray Lawrence
Writer: Beatrix Christian
Sales & Distribution: Icon Film Distribution (Australia/NZ and UK), Icon Entertainment International
Synopsis: On an annual fishing trip four men find a girl's body in the river. The next morning, instead of making the long trek back to their car to report what they have found, they spend a day fishing. This action splits relationships and divides a town.

Life Story
Hibiscus Films Pty Ltd
Producer: Bridget Ikin
Director/writer: Sarah Watt
Sales & Distribution: Footprint Films, SBSi, Adelaide Film Festival, Maze/Fortissimo
Synopsis: Over a fiercely hot weekend, four people grapple with life-changing news,
wondering whether their fate is deserved or earned, and how happiness might
be possible.

One Perfect Day
Lightstream Films Pty Ltd
Executive Producer: Charles Morton, Phil Gregory
Producer: Phil Gregory, Charles Morton, Paul Currie
Director/Writer: Paul Currie
Writer: Chip Richards.
Sales & Distribution: Roadshow Films Pty Ltd, Odyssey Entertainment Ltd
Synopsis: Tommy Matisse hears music in everything, from the rhythm of the traffic to the beating heart of his girlfriend Alysse. For him it is all 'life's secret symphony'. Struggling against the confines of academic music, and the harshness of the underground club scene, Tommy overcomes the odds to create a modern day opera, bringing hope and joy to a generation.