Australia 's Film Finance Corporation (FFC) has given the greenlight to four high-profile feature films, including Mao's Last Dancer to be directed by Bruce Beresford, and granted provisional approval to four more.

In a move that sees Australian filmmakers looking beyond their shores for stories, four of the films are set at least in part in China, East Timor, Mexico City and the US.

Producer Jane Scott and Oscar-nominated writer Jan Sardi - the team behind Shine - will make Mao's Last Dancer, based on the best-selling autobiography of Li Cunxin who fled China to live in Australia.

Balibo is a political thriller set around the deaths of five Australian journalists in war-torn East Timor in 1975. Anthony La Paglia will play the lead; acclaimed playwright David Williamson wrote the script; Robert Connolly will direct, and John Maynard produce.

Salute is a theatrical documentary about the little-known Australian athlete involved in the infamous Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, and the civil rights movement in the US. The film is written, directed and produced by Matt Norman.

On a lighter note, My Year Without Sex is a comedy about modern life from Bridget Ikin and Sarah Watt, the team behind the award-winning romantic drama Look Both Ways.

The FFC gave provisional approval to four other projects.

Accidents Happen , a comedy about a young boy who thinks he has mysterious powers to influence other people, is set in the US and Australia. Anthony Anderson will produce; Andrew Lancaster direct.

The three other films are set among photogenic local scenery: The Hunter (Vincent Sheehan producer, Daniel Nettheim director) is a thriller about a mercenary sent to the Tasmanian wilderness.

Miracle At Virgin's End (Andrew mason producer, Peter Duncan writer/director) is a comedy of manners set in the wild Australian outback and Strangerland (Mark Overett producer, Kim Farrant director) is a tense drama about teenagers missing in the harsh central Australian desert.