Fortissimo Film Sales haspicked up world rights to More Than Scarlet, an Australian drama from the stable of Jan Chapman,producer of Lantana and ThePiano. The company is also poised topick up two other Aussie pictures in moves that underline its growing influencein the English-languagesector.

The Hong Kong andNetherlands-based company has long been considered as specialised indiscovering and representing Asian films and festival-quality directorialtalent. It sees its burgeoning English-language slate - and its growingdocumentary line-up - as signs of diversification and corporate maturityrather than a shift away from its traditional activities.

"This is all aboutbecoming a sales company capable of representing films and talent from sourcesaround the globe," said Fortissimo co-chief Michael J Werner. "Ourintention to step up a level is also demonstrated by our growing ability toinvest in and take executive producer positions on films." Earlier this year Fortissimo put in place a newbanking arrangement with the UK's number two bank Royal Bank Of Scotland.

More Than Scarlet, set in an Australian skiresort traces an adolescent girl's discovery of the difference between sex andlove. It is a debut feature for bothwriter/director Cate Shortland and producer Anthony Anderson, but both arechaperoned by super-experienced Chapman. Backed by Showtime, the FFC and theNew South Wales Film & Television Office it will be released in Australiaby Hopscotch.

Fortissimo is now inadvanced negotiations to pick up The Critic, a drama, by the La Spagnola team of director Steve Jacobs and writer Anna-MariaMonticelli, and drama Life Story,directed by the experienced Sarah Watt and produced by Bridget Ikin. Producedthrough Footprint Films and SBS, the drama about four friends who hear somelife changing news, is backed by the FFC.

In recent months Fortissimohas boarded films from other English-language territories including, MysteriousSkin by Gregg Araki from the US,South Africa's The Wooden Camera by Ntshavheni Wa Luruliand from the UK 16 Years Of Alcoholby Richard Jobson. In addition toDylan Kidd's PS I Love You,which it unveiled this week (Mifed Daily, day 1), Fortissimo is alsorepresenting Peter Greenaway's Tulse Luper Suitcases, Jim Jarmusch's Coffee And Cigarettes and Todd Graff's Camp.

"We have expandingrelationships with people like Mary Jane Skalski, companies like Killer Films,IFC and Hart Sharp thanks to our connections with John Sloss and we have AshleyLuke in London aggressively scouting new films and relationships," saidWerner. "PS I Love You wasa big reach for us."

Having enjoyed the hugesuccess of Capturing The Friedmans,Fortissimo has actively sought to ride the growing popularity of theatricaldocumentaries. It is readying Gyspy Caravan, directed by Jasmine Dellal for a Spring 2004release, and is also selling Academy Award nominee Spellbound, Jeff Blitz' examination of the spelling beephenomenon in the US.