Encouraged by recent Hollywood interest in Japanese films such as The Ring and Spirited Away, the Japanese government is looking to further raise the profile of local films abroad.

Japan's External Trade Organization (Jetro) plans to assist four Japanese film companies setting up sales booths at next year's AFM, as well as underwriting a central booth for promoting Japanese films. The four companies will receive subsidies, which will substantially reduce the cost of renting suites.

Jetro, the government agency charged with trade promotion, has recently launched a series of new initiatives to give financial and other support to the Japanese film industry.

This year, Jetro has allocated $11.2m to support Japanese films aboard. Early this year, the agency set up sales booths at Cannes and AFM together with the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, a film support body founded by the country's big four--Toho, Toei, Shochiku and Kadokawa-Daiei.

"We learned a lot about how to promote Japanese films abroad at AFM and Cannes. This time, we would like to undertake this project on our own to maximize our experience," said Atsushi Semimoto of Jetro's Overseas Trade Fair division.

"We will accept applications from anyone in the Japanese film industry, though we would like to give mores chance to independent film companies. But the door is open to everybody."

Jetro plans to provide similar support at other international markets including next year's Cannes and MIFED. "We've just started the project, but in the near future, we intend to promote Japanese films at film markets all over the world. Asia, especially, will be our next target territory."