Rio de Janiero has launcheda film commission as part of a nationwide move to introduce film commissions in key cities of Brazil. Atpresent, only Manaus, the gateway to the Amazon jungle, has boasted a filmcommission. In addition, Rio plansto build a studio facility, dubbed the City of Cinema by early 2004.

Veteran actor Jose Wilker (DonaFlor And Her Two Husbands, Man Of The Year), who has presided over Rio City-backed distributor Riofilmes sinceearly this year, has been appointed Rio Film Commissioner.

Wilker was personallyresponsible for setting up the film commission after marathon talks with officials the past two months. Therehave been several attempts tocreate a film commission for the last 10 years but it took Wilker's star power and perseverance to get theinitiative off the ground.

The Rio Film Commission hadits official launch during the Rio Film Festival (Sept 25 to Oct 9), which included the screening of apromotional DVD that it plans tosend to leading producers around the world.

"There is a generallack of information about Rio and its rich audiovisual infrastructure," said Wilker."Aside from post-production facilities, we have a wealth of exterior locations, thatrange from rain forests to beaches andmountains. We also have experienced crew personnel and the latest hi-tech equipment available," he added.

The local currency exchangerate of nearly three Reals to $1 is also another advantage. The Rio FilmCommission plans to set up offices in key international cities and launch adedicated website as part of its informationdissemination efforts.

The City Of Cinema, to bebuilt on 167,000 square meters of land, will include two sound stages, postproduction facilities, a film school and a library. In addition, the city ofRio plans to build 50 new digital screens by next year, with some 30 newscreens up by the end of summer 2004.