Despite the overall malaise affecting the French cinema sector this year, with box-office down for the first half compared to 2002, film production is on the rise.

According to French weekly trade Le Film Francais, figures released by the National Cinema Centre (CNC), reveal that 82 films were greenlit between January 1 and June 15, 2003 - ten more than for the same period last year.

Investment was also up - to Euros 415m from Euros 398m for first semester of 2002.

Meanwhile, foreign investment continues to show a steady increase. So far in 2003 French investment stands at Euros 328m while foreign money has reached Euros 87m.

With more and more co-productions, in part thanks to France's generous subsidy and soft money systems, foreign investment has continued to increase over the past few years. For the same periods in 2002 and 2001 foreign producers brought Euros 66m and Euros 50m to France respectively.

Conversely, the number of solely French films is down on the first half of the year from 44 in 2002 to 38 this year. Budgets are also fluctuating with the average now at Euros 5.3m, up from Euros 3.3m last year.

Although the numbers appear healthy, several concerns are now facing the industry. There is a feeling that much of the money going into production is concentrated over a small number of big budget films while small and medium budget films find it harder to put their financing in place. One of the reasons for this is likely the troubles at Canal Plus which has pulled back on investing in mid-range pictures.

In addition, although co-productions help to bring money into France they can also be a drain. The UK's sale and leaseback scheme has certainly eaten into France's post-production houses' profitability and so-called 'runaway production' is also a concern.