Switzerland's Federal Office of Culture (BAK) hasannounced that it will extend its annual $935,000 (CHF 1.2m) support to the Locarno International Film Festival for another threeyears.

The news comesshortly before this year's event opens on August 3 with KetanMehta's TheRising - Ballad Of Mangal Pandey.

The grant represents12 percent of the festival's total budget and 50% of BAK'sentire annual support for Swiss film festivals.

BAK's newhead of film funding, Nicolas Bideau, will attend Locarno this week with Switzerland'sMinister of Culture Pascal Couchepin and BAK directorJean-Frederic Jauslin to present proposals forchanges to Swiss film policy.

Bideau,who previously headed the Competence Centre for Cultural Foreign Policy, willofficially take up his post overseeing BAK's filmfunding measures from October 1.