The total value of features made in Australia in the 12 months to June 30, 2000 rose 7% to $66m (A$127m), compared to $62m (A$119m) the previous year, according to the Australian Film Commission (AFC). The rise was mostly due to the impact of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge which is costing more than $26m (A$50m).

However Moulin Rouge's large budget masks a decline in the number of films made in Australia which dropped to 31 in the year to June 30, compared to 41 the previous year.

Every film apart from Luhrmann's Nicole Kidman starrer was made for less than $3.1m (A$6m) and, much the same as the previous year, 42% were budgeted at less than $0.52m (A$1m). But the year to June 30, 1999 also contained several films costing more than $3.1m (A$6m) and the AFC has drawn attention to the difficulty Australia has in maintaining production activity in the higher budget ranges.

The AFC's just released national production survey also shows that a dozen of the 31 features received substantial government funding, mostly from the Australian Film Finance Corporation, while 15 were privately funded out of Australia, eight of which were "self-funded". Two were fully or almost fully funded from offshore and two received about half their money from overseas.

With TV drama, co-production and foreign production figures added, total expenditure in Australia topped $296m (A$570m), the highest level since the first annual survey 11 years ago. This increase, however, was mostly due to Moulin Rouge, Star Wars: Episode II and Red Planet. The latter two foreign productions cost a combined $140m (A$270m), of which $40.5m (A$78m) was spent in Australia.