The Polish Film Institute hasannounced plans to build a modern, 10-stage studio complex by 2009.

Film City, as the project is being called, will be built on a 476-hectare military airbase in Nowe Miasto nad Pilicou, about 80 kilometers south of Warsaw.

Hangars will be converted into 10 stages, the largest of which will be 7,000 square meters, bigger than the largest stages at Barrandov in Prague or Korda in Budapest.

Plans call for an extensive backlot, a water tank, and departments for costumes, weapons, special effects and creatures. When completed Film City should be able to host five features at once, employing up to 1,000 during peak production.

Construction cost is currently tagged at $133m (Euros 100m), of which $20m (Euros 15m) would come from Polish state treasury. Warsaw wants the rest to come from EU structural funds. Final details will be released at the end of the year.

On Wednesday representatives of the ministries of Culture and Defense, local authorities and filmmakers signed a contract for development of the studio.

Polish Film Institute director Agnieszka Odorowicz said the studios would permit Poland to take a leading position in the European and global film industry and raise the artistic quality of Polish film.

The announcement gave local producers opportunity to lobby their government to create tax incentives to help attract international productions.

Maciej Strzembosz, chairman of the national audiovisual producers' body, said the facility was essential to the competitiveness of the Polish film industry and expressed hopes that Poland would introduce tax incentives like those offered by Hungary.

Director Krzysztof Krauze said tax incentives were essential. 'Without favorable taxes for foreign producers, there will only be stray dogs trotting around the village,' Krauze said, noting that Steven Spielberg's took Munich to Hungary despite his favourable experience shooting Schindler's List in Poland because Budapest had introduced a 20% tax rebate.

'[Schindler's List] would have left $15m in Poland,' he said, characterizing the lack of incentives as 'economic nonsense'.

New studios in Warsaw were first proposed in 1948. The plan was revived in the 1960s but never realized. Palme d'Or recipient Andrzej Wajda called Film City 'the fulfillment of a long-held but never fulfilled dream of Polish filmmakers.'