Brazilian bank BNDES has raised its level of commitment to thefilm industry, announcing an increased budget of $5m in support of 41 projects.The investment more than doubles last year's commitment and brings it back inline with the 2001 budget.

The announcement comes following the recent news that state-ownedoil company Petrobas has pulled back its support of the local industry.

Non film companies have been investing in local films to takeadvantage of tax breaks offered by the country's Audiovisual Law. However, manycompanies, led by Petrobras, have begun to pull back as returns on theirinvestments have been slower than expected.

Thelist of BNDES-sponsored projects include those backed by Disney Latin American label, Miravista: Romeo AndJulieta Get Married, Underground Gamesand The History's Owner. Amongthe 26 fiction titles in the list, 10 are directorial debuts. Documentary titles include UIP-backed PeleEterno, the story of Brazil'sgreatest soccer player, Pele.

Petrobrasdivestments in film jeopardized this year's Rio Fim Festival which was saved atthe eleventh hour by the City of Rio which stepped in with a $1m sponsorshipdeal. This month, the fate of the Brazil Cinema Awards hung in the balance when Petrobras pulled out itssponsorship. The event finally was set for December 16, 2003 after variouscompanies stepped in to save it. Among the sponsoring firms are Texas-based international exhibitorCinemark, distributor Art Filmes, local exhibition giant Severiano RibeiroGroup and distributor/producer Grupo Estacao.