Marcie Bloom, a founding partner of Sony Pictures Classics, is launching The Marcie Bloom Fellowship In Film.

The New York-based initiative is a mentoring programme designed to introduce up to four students a year to the world of independent film production and distribution.

The fellowship will allow the fellows to define their particular areas of interest be it development, screenwriting, production, distribution, advertising, marketing or publicity as well as offering networking opportunities.

'I always dreamt of a career where I would have a reason to be around talented, creative people without being just a 'groupie', said Bloom in a statement. 'I see this as a way of 'giving back' to a community which has been extremely kind and generous to me, and supportive of me for a long time.'

Bloom began her career in the film industry with a college internship at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center in summer 1978. Following her graduation from Cornell University in 1979, she returned to Lincoln Center where she eventually became the film coordinator of the annual New York Film Festival.

In 1984, she became director of publicity at Triumph Films, a partnership between Columbia Pictures and Gaumont, subsequently mpoving to independent publicity firm Smith And Siegal where she met her mentor Lois Smith and began her long association with her SPC co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard who were then running Orion Classics. She moved with Smith to PMK Public Relations where she was vice president, maintaining charge of publicity for all Orion Classics releases.

In 1989, Barker and Bernard invited Bloom to join them in Orion Classics where she became vice president of acquisitions, and when Orion reorganised, the three set up as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics within Sony Pictures Entertainment.

In 1996, Bloom suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage, leaving her partially paralysed and confined to a wheelchair but cognitively intact. She stays in close contact with SPC and continues to read scripts for the company; she was succeeded by her former assistant Dylan Leiner who is now an evp at SPC.

For the first year of the fellowship, participating colleges will be Wesleyan University, Columbia University and The New School. Up to four students will initially be chosen from an application process and Bloom and her advisory panel will personally select one or more students from each college.

During their first post-graduate year in New York starting in Sept 2008, Bloom will meet with the fellows once a month at her Upper West Side apartment where she will welcome guests such as directors, writers, distributors, producers and festival programmers.