The European Commission is to support filmmakers from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) with a total of $19.5m (€14m) as part of its new ACP-EU Support Programme to the ACP Cultural Sectors running between 2011 and 2016.

The previously separate ACPFilms and ACPCultures programmes have now been brought under the umbrella of the new support programme which is being funded within the framework of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

While ACPCultures covers all cultural activities outside of the audiovisual sector with a total of €10m at its disposal, ACPFilms is geared to supporting activities in the areas of production (around 40%); distribution, promotion and networking (around 40%); and training and professional development (20%) with an overall budget of €14m.

The first of two calls for proposals during the life of the ACP-EU Support Programme has now been issued to attract projects from the 78 ACP states stretching between Tanzania and Tuvalu.

Individual grants can range in the area of production, for example, from €15,000 for a documentary with a running time between 30 and 52 minutes to a maximum amount of €300,000 for a fiction feature film. Support for programming ACP works by ACP TV broadcasters or by multiple media can attract up to €800,000.

Moreover, by requiring a distribution strategy for productions in each production plan and by allowing state television companies to submit bids for distribution, the emphasis is on the circulation and broadcasting of productions and the economic and social dimensions of the cultural sector.

Commenting on the launching of the new ACP-EU Support Programme, the EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs said: “The dynamism of African cinema, Caribbean music and Pacific artists opens a window onto the reality in these countries. Culture is a vital element in social cohesion and identity. It is also a sector which generates wealth and jobs. My wish is that our support for the cultural sector will contribute to the economic, social and also political development of the ACP countries.”

Under the previous ACPFilms Programme which was launched in 2008 under the auspices of the ninth EDF, 23 projects were supported with a total grant of €6.5m. They included the Cannes 2010 Competition title A Crying Man by Chad’s Mahamet-Saleh Haroun, Mozambique director Joao Ribeiro’s award-winning The Last Flight of the Flamingo, and the Congolese gangster film Viva Riva! [pictured], which was the surprise hit of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and had its European premiere in the Berlinale’s Forum last month.

A public information presentation of the ACP-EU Support Programme’s guidelines will be held at the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) secretariat in Brussels on March 23.