The Canadian government haspledged to invest up to $20m (C$25m) in the Toronto International Film FestivalGroup's proposed Festival Centre.

The much-neededcontribution, which was anticipated, takes TIFFG another large step towardreaching its goal of raising $160m. the projected cost of not only completingthe centre but of establishing an endowment fund and ongoing operating costs.

The federal money lifts thefunds committed to date to $76m. In March, the Government of Ontario announcedits own $20m donation. At that time, TIFFG also pushed back the targetedopening date to 2008.

The federal dollars comewith some conditions attached, including the reference to "up to" $20m; theFestival Centre has been identified as a "priority project" under the CanadaStrategic Infrastructure Fund and must meet certain conditions. Details of theGovernment of Canada's investment are to be outlined at the time of signing apartners' contribution agreement.

Calling the announcementexceptional news, TIFFG director and CEO Piers Handling said in a statement,"Our goal is to provide more access to more films for more people and toencourage the growth and celebration of Canadian and international cinema.Festival Centre is the expression of that vision."

The proposed building, whichcombines a 150,000 sq. ft complex featuring screening spaces and administrativeheadquarters with a residential condominium tower, will be constructed on primedowntown land owned by Canada-born Hollywood producer Ivan Reitman and his twosisters.

TIFFG constitutes theToronto International Film Festival, Cinematheque Ontario, Sprockets TorontoInternational Film Festival for Children, the Film Reference Library, FilmCircuit, Canada's Top Ten, Industry Initiatives Office, and Talk Cinema,generating an overall audience in Toronto of 500,000 and offering 1,500 filmevents annually. According to TIFFG projections, the Festival Centre will raisethose numbers dramatically, to an audience of two million and 4,000 filmevents, while increasing the TIFFG operating budget from $11m to $24m.