The Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs is asking the government to double its spend on local film this year in a bid to boost domestic film production.

The agency has asked the government to set aside Y2.6bn ($22.1m) from its fiscal 2003 budget - twice the amount spent last year - to fund the initiative, according to reports in The Japan Times.

In addition to acting as a fillip to local producers and crews, the funds will be used to finance overseas exhibition.

The agency plans to show independently produced films at overseas cinemas in the belief that such screenings, if successful, will bring in additional revenues to finance more home-grown projects.

It is also planning to finance a series of booths at leading international film festivals where a range of Japanese films, other than the ones nominated by festival organisers, will be shown. The agency hopes that by showing a greater number of Japanese films, more will get noticed and taken up by overseas distributors.