16 Aug 2008

Harley to head Screen Australia

12:02 pm on 16 August 2008

New Zealander Ruth Harley is to head a newly formed national film agency in Australia.

Dr Harley, the current chief executive of the New Zealand Film Commission, has been appointed by federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett for a five-year term at Screen Australia, beginning in November.

Dr Harley has been chief executive at New Zealand Film Commission for more than 10 years.

Under her tenure, the international profile of New Zealand and its films has grown - helped along by big budget films like The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

The ABC reports Screen Australia is a new agency which replaces the Australian Film Commission, Film Australia and the Film Finance Organisation.

:Natural progression"

New Zealand Film Commission board member Tainui Stephens says a move to a more challenging role was a natural progression for someone of Dr Harley's calibre.

During her leadership at the Film Commission, he says New Zealand film has shifted from what's described as the "cinema of unease" to reflecting a nation that's more at ease with itself.

Australia's screen production industry contributes more than $A1.5 billion to the economy and employs 50,000 people.