The Berlinale has been awarded Euro 1.5m initially for the next three years to set up a World Cinema Fund for the support of filmmakers from developing countries and to increase the profile of their films in German cinemas.

The funding from the Federal Cultural Foundation(Kulturstiftung des Bundes) is the result of over two years of lobbying byBerlinale festival director Dieter Kosslick for the creation of a body similarto those linked to such festivals as Rotterdam (Hubert Bals Fund), Locarno(Montecinemaverita Foundation), and Bruges (Cinema Novo Festival Film Fund).

According to the Foundation, the Fund will serveas a kind of matchmaker between foreign filmmakers and their local producers withGerman producers and distributors. "If these films are also to be madeaccessible to an interested German audience and to be seen in the cinemas, theyneed German producers and distributors who support different stories and filmswith passion and courage," the Foundation noted.

Foreign directors will be able to apply forproduction and distribution funding so long as they are working together with aproduction company from their country of origin. In addition, applications willalso be eligible from German producers who are producing films of a foreigndirector and want to release them in German cinemas. The funding of up to Euros100,000 in individual cases will be paid out to the production companies ordistributors in Germany.

According to the Foundation, the World CinemaFund will have a different geographical focus for each year and is planning toconcentrate on the Arabian world, Southern Africa and Latin America for thefirst three years of the Fund's operations.

The decision on which projects are to be fundedwill be taken by an independent expert jury. Since the Fund is beingadministered by the Berliner Festspiele, the supported films can be guaranteeda slot in the programme of a future Berlinale.