Former executive Ben Chiang has launched CNEX, the first private fund for documentaries in China.

The Beijing-based outfit aims to become a fully-fledged film production, sales and distribution outfit, focusing on documentaries produced in the Greater China region.

The first three films on the CNEX slate are: Du Haibin's Umbrella, which is screening in the Horizons section of this year's Venice film festival; My Last Secret, directed by Li Xiaofeng and Jia Kai, and All's Right With The World, from Hong Kong filmmaker Cheung King-wai.

Established as a non-profit private fund aiming to document changes in contemporary Chinese society, CNEX plans to back eight documentaries a year with funds of $1.3m (RMB10m). Major sponsors include Taipei-based Chinatimes Cultural and Educational Foundation, and individual donators from the IT industry.

CNEX has also established a sales and distribution arm to handle the projects it has funded.

'It has always been very difficult for documentary filmmakers to find funds in China,' said Chiang, co-founder and former executive vice president of, one of China 's largest portal sites.

'Filmmakers either have to be hired by TV stations working for documentary programmes or they have to go completely independent. We hope to provide a platform for Chinese documentary filmmakers to enhance their international visibility.'

The three films on the CNEX slate all revolve around the theme of 'money'. Umbrella observes the lives of people of different social backgrounds and documents how money has become a tremendous, unprecedented concern of the Chinese people overnight, which has rapidly overtaken everything else in importance.

My Last Secret follows a 95-year-old widow's battle to protect the money she is leaving in her will from a covetous niece and her nursing maid. All's Right With The World visits five poor families in Hong Kong and explores the value of money in these people's eyes.