The Federation of European Film Directors (FERA) has agreed to set up a regional office in Warsaw to serve the film industry in the new EU member countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

The new office is to be headed by FERA Vice President, Janusz Kijowski who also heads the Association of Polish Filmmakers. The actress and film director, Liv Ullman, was also elected President of FERA, the first woman to occupy the post.

The decision was taken at a meeting of FERA representatives held after the closing of the annual gathering of the Polish film industry during the festival of Polish films in Gdynia.

This year FERA also held its annual general assembly in Gdynia where delegates from 27 countries and 31 film organisations gathered during the event to debate film production and distribution in the context of an enlarged Europe.

The conference was also addressed by Polish Minister for Culture, Waldemar Dabrowski, who called for a EU policy that would defend European film against the onslaught of American film.

'I don't think this should be a race between the Europeans and the Americans, but we have to identify a formula that allows us to defend what we make.'

He went on to say that Europe would produce 625 films in 2003 but that they were not widely distributed 'because the distribution is Europe is a Hollywood system and this means that there is no place for European film.'

Citing the ever increasing share of American film at the European box office, he stated that in 2001 American films had a 65 percent box office and in 2002 a 71 percent share.

In Poland, European films accounted for 11 percent of admissions last year.