Brazilian state-owned petroleum company Petrobras Distribuidora, a stalwart supporter of local cinema since 1994, has announced its exclusive three-year sponsorship of the Festival do Rio, Brazil's most prestigious international film festival. It has also committed towards the restoration of the venerable Odeon Theatre, built in 1926.

Petrobras has allotted $1.7m (real3m) for the festival and another $1.1m (real2m) towards the restoration of the Odeon Theatre, located in downtown Rio de Janeiro. It will also sponsor Saturday prime time on Canal Brasil, a thematic cable and satellite channel dedicated to Brazilian cinema.

Festival do Rio plans to use the extra funds to expand its activities. Running this year from October 5-18, the event will include seminars and workshops modelled after the European Union's Media Business School.

Petrobras has invested in more than 50 Brazilian films over the past six years including such high profile titles as Four Days In September, Bossa Nova, Quatrilho, Orfeu and Moon's Hunt.

Andrea Boross Queiroga in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this article