As a medium of promoting culture, the film industry requires government support to grow, Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese said on Monday.

Speaking at the preview of the 2010 Australian Film Festival in Chennai, Mr. Varghese said that it was ironic that Australia, which had based its economic growth in the last few decades on deregulation, had used government support extensively for the film industry.

“It is a bit of not so well-known trivia that the world's first full length feature film was “The Story of the Kelly Gang,” an Australian movie. We had a thriving film industry before Hollywood killed it,” Mr. Varghese quipped.

Though around 150 films were produced in Australia until 1928, the industry went into the doldrums before governmental support revived it in the 1970's, he said.

Along with the tremendous tradition of cinematography, the Australian film industry was now looking at more global ventures, Mr. Varghese said, pointing to the production of movies like “Matrix” and the second and third parts of “Star Wars” at Fox Studios, Sydney.

He said Australia wanted to strengthen its ties with the Indian film industry and the film festival was a step in the direction. “Maybe [Australian director of Moulin Rouge and other movies] Baz Luhrmann and his good friend A.R.Rahman can come together and make a big movie soon,” he said.

A screening of Baz Luhrmann's “Australia” was held at the preview. The film festival will be held at the South Indian Film Chamber Theatre between May 26 and May 31. Further details are available at www.india.highcommission.gov.au.