The Romanian Film Board (CNC) has awarded nearly $7.2m (Euros 5.3m) in production and development funding, including grants, to new projects from Un Certain Regard winner Cristi Puiu, Camera d'Or laureate Corneliu Porumboiu, and actress Fanny Ardant on her directorial debut.

The single largest award, $569,000 (Euros 417,000), went to Aurora, directed by Puiu (The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu) and produced by Mandragora Movies. The story portrays a man who, after losing almost everything in a divorce, isolates himself and gradually become possessed by a desire for revenge. Puiu pitched the project at the Berlin co-production market earlier this year and is aiming for a 2009 shoot.

Periscop Pictures received $535,000 (Euros 392,000) for Intermediar, a new project written and directed by Porumboiu and starring Dragos Bucur (Boogie, The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu). The five-week shoot will start Nov 3. The story is a closely-guarded secret, but executive producer Marcela Ursu told ScreenDaily that a final cut would be ready next spring.

The CNC awarded $136,000 (Euros 100,000) to Ashes And Blood, a Romanian-minority co-production between Paulo Branco's Alfama Films and Tudor Giurgiu's Libra Film. The story revolves around a widow with three children who, years after husband's assassination, returns to his country, reviving old hatreds between rival clans. The film stars Ronit Elkabetz (The Band's Visit) and prominent Romanian actors Razvan Vasilescu and Olga Tudorache. Actor-turned-director Ardant (Elizabeth, 8 Women) started shooting last week in the Carpathian Mountains.

Libra received $369,000 (Euros 270,000) for The Bear, a black comedy about a circus manager who, after the collapse of communism, tries to solve the circus' financial problems by selling its bears to German hunters. The film is the directorial debut of Dan Chisu Sitaru.

Hai-Hui Entertainment of Romania, received $102,000 (Euros 75,000) for Aglaja (Why The Child Is Cooking In Polenta). Hai-Hui is the minority co-producer in the project with Budapest-based Inforg.

Adrian Sitaru (Waves, Hooked) received $198,000 (Euros 145,000) for his project For Love With Best Intentions, developed in Cinefondation and currently in the Binger Filmlab Script Development Programme.

Other projects receiving CNC funds include The Winged Horses, produced by Artist Film and directed by Hungarian director Judit Elek (Memories Of A River), which received $191,000 (Euros 140,000). Mediapro Pictures received a combined $703,000 (Euros 515,000) for two features: Ana, by veteran director Alexa Visarion, and Afacerea Est, directed by Igor Cobileanschi.