The German Federal Culture Foundation has agreed to extend funding for the Berlin-based World Cinema Fund (WCF) for another two years.

Support will now run for 2008 and 2009, having initially been planned for just three years from 2005-2007. But there will be a reduction in contributions to $395,000 (Euros 300,000) annually instead of the $660,000 (Euros 500,000) in the pilot stage.

Berlinale festival director Dieter Kosslick told ScreenDaily he was "really grateful" for the efforts undertaken by the Culture Foundation's Hortensia Voelckers and the State Minister for Culture Bernd Neumann to extend the deal since it had been indicated at the WCF's launch that the Foundation's backing would be of limited duration.

"I think the success of the World Cinema Fund has led to [its financing] being continued," Kosslick suggested, "We now have three years to find new ways of financing and positioning the fund."

In the search for additional finances for WCF, the Berlinale had already been fortunate: Germany's Goethe Institute arts organisation announced at the 2005 festival that it would itself provide $130,000 (Euros 100,000) annually for the Fund's first three years.

Since being founded by the Culture Foundation and the Berlinale in October 2004, the WCF has received a total of 522 projects from 53 countries from the regions on which the WCF focuses (Africa, Latin America, The Middle East and Central Asia), and 32 projects have so far received production or distribution funding.

Among the projects backed in the first two years (2005/2006) of the Fund's operations were Paradise Now, El Custodio, Liverpool, Hamaca Paraguaya, and Songs From The Southern Seas.