While many companies have pulled back from sponsoring gay and lesbian organisations, Aussie Home Loans has actually increased its sponsorship commitment to Queer Screen, the presenters of Sydney’s Mardi Gras and QueerDOC festivals. Having been a sponsor of Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festivals in 2000 and 2001, Aussie Home Loans has this year become Queer Screen’s first premier sponsor. Although Aussie would not reveal the dollar value of the sponsorship deal, a spokesperson said it had increased by one third over last year’s value. Executive officer of Queer Screen, Richard King, observed that it had been a tough year for cash-strapped gay and lesbian organisations. We’re grateful that Aussie Home Loans has not only continued its support for our organisation from past years, but has actually increased it this year to become our first premier sponsor, he said. This latest sponsorship commitment continues Aussie Home Loans’ support for the lesbian and gay community as it has a five-year history of providing financial support to a number of community causes. These include gay and lesbian counselling services, youth groups, HIV support organisations and Adelaide’s FEAST festival. Aussie Home Loans celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is Australia’s largest non-bank lender, and has provided over $9 billion worth of loans to more than 120,000 customers across Australia. This year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival runs from 14 to 24 February and will see a 40 percent increase in the number of films shown, with over 200 films presented from 23 countries. The festival opening night is 13 February 2002.