More than 400 Argentine actors, actresses, directors,producers and technicians have joined to create an Academy of Motion PicturesArts and Sciences (Academia de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas - AACC).

The AACC will decide which Argentine films will compete inother Academy awards, such as the Oscars and the Spanish Goyas. Until lastyear, Argentina's Film Institute (INCAA) was responsible for the selectionprocess.

The Academy will also give its own award, though it's notconfirmed whether it will start this year or in 2005.

The AACC will encourage filmmaking in Argentina and promotethe creation of an audiovisual archive as well as organising workshops,seminars and courses.

President of the Academy, actress Norma Aleandro (who playeda leading role in foreign language Oscar winner The Official Story), said"people from the film industry needed aplace to get together, somewhere we could feel at ease and express ourthoughts, somewhere we could grow and progress. Here we are, gathered for thefirst time."

"In a country like Argentina, the film industry needs apermanent political defence of its interests. (Until the creation of the AACC)there was no institution doing that", stated Luis Puenzo, director of The Official Story.

Director Marcelo Pineyro is the first vice-president of theAcademy, actress Cecilia Roth is the second VP, producer Pablo Bossi is thesecretary and its treasurer is producer Pablo Rovito.

Directors Daniel Burman, Luis Puenzo and Pablo Trapero,along with actor Leonardo Sbaraglia, art director Mercedes Alfonsin, andcinematography director Felix Montiare make up the other members of the board.