MIFF Premiere Fund backs five new projects.

The 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) opened with Not Quite Hollywood, a highly entertaining documentary about two decades of Australian horror, action and other exploitation films. Now its director, Mark Hartley, is going to direct his own with the support of MIFF’s Premiere Fund.

Hartley’s fictional feature debut is a “re-imagining” of the 1978 sci-fi horror film Patrick, directed by Richard Franklin. He is writing the script with Justin King and the producer is Antony Ginnane, producer of the original alongside Franklin.

Finishing funds are also going to Craig Lahiff’s film noir Swerve and Khoa Do’s latest refugee story, Falling For Sahara, and the feature documentaries AutoLuminescent: Rowland S Howard and First Fagin, Alan Rosenthal’s study of the Australian convict who inspired a key character in Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, which will be ready in time for the 200th anniversary of the birth of novelist Charles Dickens.

These five films bring to 31 the number of projects backed since opened the MIFF Premiere Fund, which has A$800,000 per year thanks to the Victorian Government, opened its doors in 2007. There are now a number of filmmakers who have dipped in more than once including Hartley.

“We are supporting his transition to narrative drama and I can’t think of anyone better to make this particular film,” Woods told ScreenDaily. “I remember seeing it (the original) on Irish television as a child and it was fantastic and kooky and out there. It is a very original film.”

Hartley is aiming to make a “prestige suspense thriller for today’s audiences”.

“The central idea of the film is so great: here is a guy in a coma in hospitatl with limitless powers but all he wants is to control the life of one nurse so that she falls in love with him.”

A condition of investment is that films premiere at MIFF, although this has been overlooked when they have been accepted at A list festivals, hence sales agent Moviehouse having to agree to approve producer Helen Leake accepting funds for Swerve. The film is about what happens to two men, a girl and a suitcase of money in the middle of nowhere. It stars Jason Clarke, Emma Booth, David Lyons, Travis McMahon, Vince Colosimo and Roy Billing.