As part of its drive to reinvigorate Mifed and save it from the onslaught of AFM, Fiera Milano International (FMI), the body that manages Mifed, has announced that it has officially joined forces with Cinecitta Holding and created a new company named Audiovisual Industry Promotion that will run the event with a newly-inflated budget.

"We have in fact laid the foundations for a major re-launch of Mifed, which is now rightly recognised as being a strategic asset for the Italian film industry as well as the international entertainment business," Fiera Milano's CEO Piergiacomo Ferrari said on Wednesday.

Italia Cinema president Giovanni Galoppi has been appointed chairman of the 50-50 joint venture, while FMI general division director Carlo Bassi has been named CEO.

Ferrari confirmed that he also expects to bring in the Venice Biennale as Audiovisual's third partner in 2004.

In the meantime, Audiovisual Industry Promotion will run Mifed while a division of the company called FilmItalia will handle the promotion of Italian films abroad and help producers unearth sales opportunities for Italian films at festivals and markets throughout the world.

The Rome and Milan based company, which will operate along the lines of French promotional body Unifrance, will have a budget of Euros 7m-10m. Around Euros 3.5m will be provided by the Italian government through the state-owned Cinecitta and the Biennale. The remaining amount will be funded by FMI.

"The new company further strengthens Mifed, particularly on an economical level. And it demonstrates our firm intention to invest in the market," Bassi told

Bassi also said that extra personnel would be hired and that they are exploring new ways to develop the market and focus even more on digital technologies.

While opinion is still divided among buyers and sellers about whether they will attend MIFED or AFM next year, Bassi has already said he will introduce major incentives to lure buyers and exhibitors to MIFED next year, including subsidising flights and hotel accommodation in Milan.

Audiovisual Industry Promotion will officially kick off its activities in January.