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Australian film-makers raise the red curtain

Victoria University is promoting stronger links with the Chinese film industry by offering an emerging Chinese film producer a fully paid trip to the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) annual conference next month.

The conference funding is part of an award jointly offered by the SPAA and the University's Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, which runs the Professional Certificate in Executive Screen Production – the only executive producers course offered in the Asia Pacific region. The award is being co-ordinated by the newly formed Australia China Screen Alliance, which is encouraging interchange between new and experienced film-makers.

Sue Marshall from the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre said it was an exciting time for joint productions between Chinese and Australian film-makers.

"The recent success of the Australian-Chinese film Dragon Pearl, which broke the Chinese box office record for an Australian movie in its first weekend release earlier this year, has raised interest in collaborations between our film-makers and the Chinese," she said.

The film, starring Sam Neill, tells the tale of two children on an archaeological dig with their parents in China who discover a mysterious ancient dragon trapped on Earth.

 Dragon Pearl's Australian producer, Mario Andreacchio, is a lecturer in the Victoria University course.

"A number of new co-productions in China are in advanced stages and there is a growing interest in working more closely with Australian film-makers as a gateway to international releases," Mr Andreacchio said.

Links between Australian and Chinese film-makers have been nurtured by Screen Australia and the Australian Embassy in Beijing, which have worked closely with the Chinese film industry in recent years. This has culminated in the establishment of the Australia China Screen Alliance and an annual convention to be held in Beijing – the Australia China Film Producers Forum. Both are initiatives driven by the SPAA and its representative, Mario Andreacchio.

Box office takings are growing rapidly in China, which is now in the top ten for world cinema audiences. Half of box office takings are now made by co-productions with overseas film-makers.

The Screen Producers Association of Australia's annual conference will be held in Sydney from 13-16 November.

Sue Marshall is available for interview: 0400 921 162; 03 9919 1819.

Media inquiries: Jim Buckell, External Communications Manager,

Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University

Ph: (03) 9919 4243; mobile: 0400 465 459; email: [email protected]

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