Responding to the recent spectacular growth of local film, The Greek Film Centre (GFC) is launching a scheme - Film Centre 2000 - designed to secure more exhibition slots for domestic productions.

Greek films racked up 2.3 million admissions this year (September 1999 - June 2000) - an almost five-fold increase over the previous year - a result which translates into an unprecedented 18% market share for local pictures. Yet despite the impressive results, a number of Greek titles have recently failed to find exhibition slots in a market that has traditionally been dominated by foreign product.

Film Centre 2000 - the first such scheme from the state-financed and, until now, production-oriented GFC - involves five Athens cinemas, strategically positioned in the city centre and around it. The GFC is assuming control of the cinemas' programming which will include local titles and carefully selected foreign product provided by local distributors. The cinema owners, led by George Skouras' prestigious down-town Apollo-Renault venue, will continue to control the day-to-day running of their cinemas, backed by a DR70m ($200,000) fund to cover minimum admission guaranties.

The scheme is backed by Greek private broadcaster Alpha TV which has already teamed with GFC on several co-productions.

The circuit will launch the scheme in September, the start of the winter box office season, when new films are generally launched and open-air theatres are reserved for re-runs. If successful, the scheme will be extended to other cities in Greece starting with Thessaloniki.