By Brendan Swift

Film Victoria has committed $1.45 million towards eight screen projects, boosting its total film and television production funding to more than $5.4 million last financial year.

The latest round of funding will support the return of two children’s television franchises (Prank Patrol, Dance Academy), a television drama series (The Slap), a telemovie (Sisters of War) and four documentary series (Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey, Trafficked – The Reckoning, Miss South Sudan Australia and Arthouse).

Meanwhile, Film Victoria has also approved a writer’s fellowship for local writer Roger Monk, who is working on feature film script Romeo and Cheryl.

The fellowship is part of a new strategy launched last November, which allows experienced writers to focus on one project over a significant period rather than applying for stage-by-stage funding.

Film Victoria also granted Scott Alexander international market support to attend the XMediaLab Animation Market China 2010 with his project The Last Andy.

The full eight projects selected for production funding are:

THE SLAP (Matchbox Pictures)
At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This event and what follows ricochets through a tight-knight group of family and friends to shocking effect. THE SLAP is based on Christos Tsiolkas’ bestselling novel of the same name.

Producers: Helen Bowden and Michael McMahon; Writers: Alice Bell, Emily Ballou, Brendan Cowell, Kris Mrska and Cate Shortland; Directors: Jessica Hobbs, Tony Ayres, Cate Shortland and Robert Connolly.

SISTERS OF WAR (Pericle Films)
A 90-minute history drama is inspired by the true story of a small group of Australian nurses and nuns who found themselves in the eye of the storm when the Japanese military made them prisoners of war on the remote island of New Britain in 1942.

Producer: Andrew Wiseman; Writer: John Misto; Director: Brendan Maher.

PRANK PATROL Series 2 (ActiveTV)
PRANK PATROL is back, riding the wave of success series 1 created when it became the most watched television show on ABC3. Host Scotty Tweedie, his sidekick Ninjas and guest experts, help Aussie Pranksters pull off big time pranks with all the action captured on hidden cameras.

Series Producer: Kylie Washington; Co-series Producer: Shona Van Lieshout; Victorian Director: Peter Lawlor.

DANCE ACADEMY Series 2 (Werner Film Productions)
Tara returns to the National Academy of Dance with the goal of representing Australia in the world’s most prestigious ballet competition in the second series of ABC TV’s hugely successful DANCE ACADEMY.

Producer: Joanna Werner; Writers: Samantha Strauss, Liz Doran, Greg Waters.

Judith Lucy is lost. So now, ready or not, she's going on a journey to find herself. Over six episodes she'll explore what's on offer for the spiritually curious and relive the hilarious, bizarre and profound moments that have shaped her spiritual belief system.

Producer: Todd Abbott; Writer: Judith Lucy.

The sequel to Trafficked, and the first film to investigate slavery in Australia, TRAFFICKED – THE RECKONING tells of a former police officer’s quest to find the man who enslaved a young Thai girl in a Sydney brothel.

Writer/Director/Producer: Luigi Acquisto; Producer/Researcher: Stella Zammataro.

MISS SOUTH SUDAN AUSTRALIA is a joyful and exuberant half-hour documentary following the journey to pull together the premiere event for Australia’s Sudanese community – the Miss South Sudan Australia beauty pageant – and the lives of the organisers and participants.

Producers: Michael McMahon, Polly Staniford, Tony Ayers; Writer/Director: Shannon Owen.

ARTHOUSE looks at the changing face of architecture, innovation and design in Australia through the eyes of Melbourne-based husband and wife team, architect Robert McBride and interior designer Debbie Ryan. The documentary follows this stellar design team over eight months, while examining the intricacies of their working relationship, and the inspiration behind their iconic and at times controversial works.

Writer/Producer: Martin Bartsch; Director: Britt Arthur.

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