37 Degrees South 013: now a familiar, stable structure
by: Mark Poole

Screen Hub
Friday 26 July, 2013

For the seventh year in a row, the Melbourne International Film Festival is hosting the film market 37 degrees South. Incorporating Books at MIFF, the film market brings together producers, sales agents, distributors and book publishers over four days.

As Victorian Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business Louise Asher explained, 37 Degrees South is vital for supporting the production of feature films in the state of Victoria, and there were more than ninety delegates from around the world attending this year.

37 South is a blend of panel sessions such as the one launching Books at MIFF where Robert Connolly talked about his most recent project Tim Winton’s The Turning, as well as one on one sessions where producers pitch to sales agents and distributors, and publishers pitch to producers, plus round table sessions, screenings and networking events, as well as Accelerator Express for new filmmakers.

Many of Australia’s key producers regularly attend, from all States – producers like Vincent Sheehan and Marian Macgowan from NSW, Helen Leake from South Australia and Trish Lake from Queensland, as well as a bevy of Victorians.
As well, there were the major players from Screen Australia including Dr Ruth Harley, Martha Coleman, Ross Mathews, and Chris Oliver, and people from Film Victoria, the SAFC and the other State funding agencies.

Under the stewardship of Director Mark Woods, 37 Degrees South has clearly evolved into a fully fledged market. As one producer told me, it’s the equal of any attached to the major international festivals around the world, and a good opportunity to do deals and advance your projects.

Books at MIFF has also evolved, and this year the public pitches from publishers to an audience of producers seemed more mature and considered than in previous years, and clearly there was an appreciation of what is suitable to be translated to the screen. Also noticeable was the number of pitches that were aimed at television series rather than feature films, as well as a couple of documentary ideas.

The session about Robert Connolly’s production The Turning, which has three sessions at MIFF, all of them completely sold out, was fascinating.

Robert was looking exhausted but gratified with the responses to his film, and as an expert in adaptations (The Boys, Romulus My Father, Three Dollars, Balibo) his words of wisdom were highly relevant, particularly as there is a consensus that the Australian film industry is increasingly looking to adaptations as a major source of material for the big screen and small, especially after the success of Matchbox’s The Slap, which according to Managing Director of Matchbox Chris Oliver-Taylor has gone into profit after selling to many territories around the world, as well as Channel 4 in the UK.

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