Australian director Simon Wincer, who made the iconic US miniseries Lonesome Dove, is saddling up for a new feature that will carry his trademark: plenty of horses.

The Cup, an against-all-odds true story featuring Australia's most famous horse race, was one of four films that won investment from Screen Australia yesterday.

The others are Love And Mortar, a drama couched in comedy to be directed by Nadia Tass (Malcolm) and starring James Nesbitt; debut filmmaker Brendan Fletcher's Mad Bastards, an all-singing all-storytelling ride featuring the indigenous people of the spectacular Kimberley region, and Charlie & Boots, which is likely to star Paul Hogan.

Stephen Curry plays the pivotal character of Damien Oliver in The Cup. Despite losing his only brother in a tragic accident just days before the 2002 Melbourne Cup, Oliver rode Irish horse Media Puzzle home to win. Ray Winstone is playing the Irish trainer Dermot Weld. Four days of filming will take place in Ireland but the rest will happen in Melbourne from December.

Husband-and-wife team Jan Bladier and David Lee are producing alongside LA producer Lance Hool. All have previously worked with Wincer, who now lives back in Australia. His celebrated Australian equestrian films include The Lighthorsemen and Phar Lap.

'Everyone who has read this script has had tears in their eyes,' Bladier told 'It is a universal story and a feel-good film.'

Mad Bastards is the second film in less than a year that Mushroom expected to have strong cross marketing

A fifth film, End Of Anxiety, received a letter signifying Screen Australia's intent to finance once conditions were met.

Production investment:


Instinct Entertainment

Exec prods: Thomas Augsberger, Andrew Mackie, Richard Payten

Prods: Shana Levine, Dean Murphy, David Redman

Writers: Stewart Faichney, Dean Murphy

Director: Dean Murphy

Sales and distribution: Instinct Eden Rock International, Transmission

Boots McFarland and his estranged dad Charlie head off to Cape York Peninsula to drop a line off the northern most tip of Australia


The Cup Pty Ltd

Exec prods: Kirk D'Amico, Greg Sitch, Joel Pearlman, Omnilab

Prods: Jan Bladier, David Lee, Lance Hool

Producer/director: Simon Wincer

Writers: Eric O'Keefe, Wincer

Sales and distribution: Village Roadshow, Myriad

Few races have had a more extraordinary effect on the nation than the running of the 2002 Melbourne Cup. At the heart of this true story is young jockey Damien Oliver. He lost his only brother in a tragic racing accident just days before, suffers through a series of discouraging defeats, then triumphs in a thrilling finale.


Cascade Films Pty Ltd

Prods: David Parker, Richard Keddie, Nadia Tass

Writers: Lynne Renew, Parker

Director: Nadia Tass

Sales and distribution: Fox (Aust/NZ), Content

A woman struggles with her son's illness and her husband's infidelity, but after a chance encounter with an Irish sailor and his son, her life is turned upside down in a love story that defies explanation and breaks all the rules.


Bush Turkey Films Pty Ltd

Executive producer: Martin Fabinyi

Consultant producer: David Jowsey

Producers: Alan Pigram, Stephen Pigram

Director/producer: Brendan Fletcher

Sales and distribution: Mushroom Pictures, Hopscotch, Maximum

A drama set on Australia's last frontier, the vast and remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. It is a raw, gutsy character film, and a meditation on violence, community and the living spirit of contemporary Aboriginal people.

Letter of intent to finance:


Agenda Film Productions Pty Ltd

Executive producer: Michelle Harrison

Producer: Ian Iveson

Writer/director: Marty Murphy

An ironic comedy about life, love and the pursuit of happiness in a post 9/11 world.