The beautiful, but under-employed island of Sicily has lured some of the world's most renowned film-makers to its shores, from neo-realists such as Roberto Rossellini to contemporary Oscar winners such as Giuseppe Tornatore for Cinema Paradiso.

Today, with support from regional, national and EU funding, the island is hoping to create a stable audiovisual industry to support local and international productions on a more permanent basis.

While Steven Soderbergh chose to bring his crew for Ocean's 12 to the island for a couple of days, attracted by the seascapes and volcanic surroundings, local Sicilian council members are determined to make the island more self sufficient.

With EU funding, they have already elected to support three locally set projects, including a Palermo-themed film to be directed by Wim Wenders, which will receive $1.6m (EUR1m) funding.

The project is still in development and came about when the Sicilian tourist board, inspired by Wenders' 1994 film Lisbon Story, asked the director to write a film treatment with a local theme. The other projects are Italian director Pasquale Scimeca's Rosso Malpelo, and North Winds On Mt Etna (Aquiloni Sull'Etna), now in development.

Another initiative being set up by local council members is Cine Sicilia, which aims to establish a local community of quality crew and facilities. It has already been guaranteed about $87m (EUR64m) to invest in the region's audiovisual sector: $54m (EUR40m) from the Italian ministry of economy, $27m (EUR20m) from the Sicilian region and $5.4m (EUR4m) from Italian broadcaster Rai International.

Sicily's regional council member Nicola Laenza says: 'Our intention is that Sicily establishes an independent film industry under a new Mediterranean film commission, and follow along the lines of other active regions.'

Cine Sicilia is awaiting a final green light but Laenza says its funds will be extended to international productions with a Sicilian theme, or those shot on location.

Meanwhile, existing film commissions on Sicily are also growing. Thanks to help from the Italian Motion Picture organisation Anica, the island now has three film commissions: Syracuse, Catania/Etna and the Palermo-based Sicily Film Commission.

Alessandro Reis, director of the Sicily Film Commission, is keen to allay any fears: 'Producers worry that by working in the south, you lose time,' he says. But thanks to streamlined permits, 'we can guarantee producers can come here and stick to their plans'.