Frenchand German producers and distributors want the $3.5m (Euros 3m)"mini-traite" co-production fund to be extended to include thesupport of the theatrical distribution in the two countries.

Thecall came at this year's French-German Cinema Rendez-Vous in Cologne but faces significant obstacles if it is top succeed.

Although a French-German distribution agreement is in existence on paper, nobudget has been provided by the national film bodies for any support to beallocated.

And speaking exclusively to, the German Federal Film Board's chiefexecutive Peter Dinges sounded cautious about calls for an increase to the"mini-traite"'s budget.

"Onewould increase the funds if the number of applications was so high that thiswas necessary," he argued."But, currently, we have the problem that that number is not enough. We have to continue working hard to attract moreprojects for the fund."

Moreover, at a time where public institutions were looking more atopportunities to cut budgets, he suggested that it was "not realistic tothink about increasing funds.

"I think it makes more sense to consider a moreefficient deployment of the funds," he said."One option then would mean that, rather thanwaiting for a sufficient number of producers [to make applications forproduction funding], one could take a small part of the mony and also supportdistribution."

"If the will and imagination is there, one could go a further step andperhaps also think about jointly supporting development. But the preconditionwould be to have enough applications."

The "mini-traite" has been in operation since 2001 and has beeninstrumental in boosting the number of co-productions undertaken between Franceand Germany, more than tripling from four in 2001 to 13 co-productions in 2004.

At the Cologne meeting, which was attended this year by over 200 leadingrepresentatives from the French and German film industries, it was announcedthat there will be a "brainstorming session" on the future strategyfor the "mini-traite" fund on 9 December.

The fourth Rendez-Vous will be held next year in November 2006 in Munich.