Leading Australian producer Jan Chapman (Holy Smoke, The Piano) has teamed with award-winning director Ray Lawrence (Bliss) to make Lantana, one of four films which have just received backing from the Australian Film Finance Corporation (FFC).

Lantana marks Lawrence's first film for 15 years when he won best director at the Australian Film Institute Awards for his highly acclaimed debut Bliss, which also won best film. Billed as "crossing the genre boundaries of thriller, mystery and romantic drama," Lantana is being written by Andrew Bovell, who co-wrote Head On and the screenplay for Strictly Ballroom. Beyond Films will be handling international sales and Palace will release the film locally.

The government-owned FFC is also backing Beyond's Rogue, to be directed by Greg McLean from his own script, and produced by Martin Fabinyi and Julia Overton. The film is about a giant crocodile that stalks tourists in the Australian outback. The executive producers are Gary Hamilton, Mikael Borglund, from Beyond, and Michael Gudinski from Mushroom Pictures.

Also marked for FFC investment is Subterano, about 13 people trapped in a car-park and under attack from a bizarre and deadly array of remote controlled toys. Director-writer Esben Storm, a regular director for the Australian Children's Television Foundation, is attached to the futuristic thriller, which also has investment and an advance against Germany-speaking territories from Germany's MBM. It will be produced by Barbi Taylor and Richard Becker, managing director of Becker Films, which has put up an advance against all other territories. Becker distribution arm, REP, is the local distributor. It is hoped that it will be shot before the Olympics, which take over Sydney in September.

The fourth film is The Bank, a thriller set in the world of high finance which will mark producer Robert Connolly's directing debut. The film stars David Wenham and the eight-week shoot will take place in Melbourne mid-year. Victorian state agency Cinemedia is also an investor. Connolly's business partner in Arenafilm, John Maynard, is the producer and the UK's Axiom is handling international sales. Fandango has bought Italian rights and Arenafilm's sister company Footprint Films will handle the Australian and New Zealand release.