Agroup of film professionals and investors from the Spanish region of Andalusiahave launched new investment fund Surinvest Capital Andalucia to offerfinancing for film and TV works.

The godfather of the project is director Antonio Caudri,whose Euros 11m, English-language UK co-production The Heart Of The Earthwill be the fund's tent-pole project for 2006 with a 50% investment, themaximum the fund will put into any single project.

Surinvest currently has the backing of two Andalusiansavings banks and GPD, a division of construction conglomerate Grupo Acciona,as well as a list of minority investors. Initial capital is understood to bearound Euros 7m.

"European cinema does not have the industrial or market basethat US cinema has," Cuadri said. "Surinvest evolved out of our intent tofinance Heart Of The Earth and create an ideal format for developinginternational films as well as smaller projects."

"For private investors, a long-term production planoffers more security than investing in one film," added Tono Escudero,production manager of the fund, who said the idea was modelled on similarinitiatives in other Spanish regions, such as Galicia's Filmanova Invest.

Surinvest's first investment was 33% of Cuadri's Euros 1.3m LaBuena Voz, now in post. The Heart Of The Earth will shoot next Marchin Huelva. The epic drama will star an international cast including Italy'sClaudia Cardinale and Spain's Antonio Dechent in the true story-inspired taleof a massacre at a copper mine owned by a UK company in the 1800s. Renowned DPVittorio Storaro has just joined the crew.

The UK's IAC is lined up to co-produce and handle sales,with plans to present the project at the upcoming AFM. Cuadri's ownManufacturas Audiovisuales and an Italian company currently in talks willco-produce.

Other projects on Surinvest's slate include a series of TVmovies in development, and the Euros 8-9m animated film Papa I'm A Zombie(Papa Soy Un Zombie) from director Alex Ortoll, an LA-based visual effectsspecialist who has worked on films like Master And Commander, Catch Me IfYou Can and Pearl Harbor, as well as Cuadri's last feature, You'reMy Hero (Eres Mi Heroe), which sold UK rights to Parasol PeccadilloReleasing (PPR).