The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has unveiled its firstsupport fund targeted at international co-productions.

For 2004, one co-produced film will be selected by aspecially-appointed jury of film industry representatives, and granted amaximum of $250,000 (WON 300m).

The fund applies to feature films (of at least 70 minutes)in the development, pre-production or production stages. At least 20% of the budget must be coveredby the Korean side, and all funds received must be spent within Korea. The grant money provided by KOFIC must totalno more that 50% of the Korean investor's contribution.

Although no strict guidelines apply, the fund is targeted atfilms with a budget of approximately $2.5m (WON 3 bn) before p&a costs,which is an average-sized budget in Korea.

There are no restrictions on the location of shooting or theuse of Korean actors and crew, however the selection process is expected tofavour projects that involve local manpower.

The application period for this year's support fund runsfrom August 23-27.

Future meetings of the nine commissioners who oversee KOFICwill determine if the level of support is expanded in future years.

KOFIC says that through the fund, it hopes to "promotethe diversification of revenue streams for Korean cinema, develop additionaldistribution channels abroad, and support diversity in local filmproduction."

A surprisingly small number of international co-productionsare made in Korea, particularly among mid- to higher budgeted films. For Korean companies, a healthy local filmfinancing sector and general inexperience in working with foreign companieshave minimised the need for looking abroad.

The government also offers no tax benefits for locationshooting in Korea, although various local film commissions are lobbying onbehalf of such measures.