Europa Cinemas, the support system for independent exhibitors which screen European films, closed its annual conference in Rome yesterday with the news that it had won a new two-year mandate from the Media programme.

"This is a first for us and is a real vote of confidence in the work that we are doing to support the cross-border exhibition of European films," said chief executive Claude-Eric Poiroux. The new Euros 9.2m budget is expected to allow Europa Cinemas to fine-tune its programme of semi-automatic aid for cinemas which give over more than 50% of screening slots to European films.

The conference was opened by Nanni Moretti, director of The Son's Room, who as an exhibitor operates the Sacher art-house cinema in Rome. It considered subjects including the greater involvement of directors in exhibition, building audience loyalty, digital cinema and strengthening links between exhibitors and independent distributors.