In a move that will provide a major boost to Flemish film production, the Flanders Cultural Affairs Minister Bert Anciaux has announced plans to increase Government support for State film body, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF). Details of the funding emerged here in Cannes.

Anciaux anticipates that the new injection of cash will lead to a doubling of feature film output in Flanders by the year 2010. At present, Flanders produces an average of six to eight features per year as a majority partner. By 2010, this should be 12.

'We are delighted that our minister is paying attention to the concerns of Flemish filmmakers and is willing to invest in the long-term development of the audio-visual sector,' commented Pierre Drouot, managing-director of the VAF.

In the short term, this year, the VAF will receive a special one-off $3.4m (Euros 2.5m) cash injection to deal with the effects of the Belgian tax shelter scheme on indigenous film production. The shelter has accelerated the filmmaking process. Movies that would formerly have taken a year to complete their financing are now ready to shoot immediately - and the result is that the VAF hasn't been able to keep pace.

As of 2008, the Fund will also gradually receive more money aimed at increasing production. This comes as part of a new three-year audiovisual charter to be signed by the Flanders Government and the Fund. The current VAF budget is $17m (Euros 12.5m) per year. That includes operational costs, and support of animation, documentary and experimental media art as well as of feature film production. Anciaux is yet to confirm precisely how much more money will be available but a substantial hike is expected.

The Minister said that he appreciated the VAF's 'enthusiasm and perseverance in combination with a pragmatic approach and common sense.' He suggested that together with new structures such as CultuurInvest, the newly-created Flanders cultural investment fund (that after musicals and pop music will also open up to film production next year), and the tax shelter scheme, the VAF 'enhances the domestic dynamics' of the Flanders audiovisual sector.

In another radical move, Minister Anciaux is planning to free the VAF of its current obligation to invest in TV productions. He said that in the future he wants the $3.4m (Euros 2.5m) the VAF so far had to allocate annually to TV productions to be used to create more and better features.