Tapping into the growing demand for feature-length documentaries, four European producers have launched a joint venture to produce a slate of creative docs.

The quartet is made up of Fabienne Servan-Schreiber of France's Cineteve, Domenico Procacci of Italy's Fandango, Karl "Baumi" Baumgartner of Germany's Pandora and Rosa Bosch of UK-Mexican production and sales outfit Tequila Gang.

"The idea is to treat documentaries as seriously as feature films and to get them into theatrical release," said Bosch. "The documentaries we are aiming to make are as expensive as features, and need to be in order to attract the talent we have in mind."

Although the quartet did not unveil any new projects, each has a slate of new pictures it is developing, with budgets reaching $1.5m-$2m. "The formation of our group is as much a call for projects as it is an affirmation of our previous working relationships," said Bosch. "We have additionally pitched to several writers and directors we are interested in. So far the response has been remarkable."

The four have all been involved in successful documentary features in the last year. Bosch was associate producer on the film that re-defined the genre, Wim Wenders' Buena Vista Social Club. Tequila Gang and Fandango took associate producer credits on Fernando Trueba's music documentary Calle 54, which was produced by Cineteve. Fandango and Pandora co-produced Super8 Stories, Emir Kusturica's debut documentary, which gets it s premiere in Berlin next week.

Although Tequila Gang also has an in-house sales operation, international sales duties on the jointly-produced pictures will be decided on a film-by-film basis. World Sales Christa Saredi is handling Super8 Stories.

"The number of cross-over documentaries in recent years compares very favorably with cross-over foreign-language features," said Bosch. "As long as we keep away from the 50-minute, talking heads kind of documentaries, audiences are less and less bothered whether they are watching a feature or a documentary. They go to see a film with a story."