TheItalian island of Sardinia is to establish aregional film fund, along the lines of existing regional funds in Germany and Belgium.

TheSardinian Film Fund will have an annual budget of $2.4m-$3.6m (Euros 2-3m) tobe invested in development, production and promotion.

Eligibleprojects will be required to spend 120% of the funds they received on theisland. For example, if a film received $100,000 from the fund, it would haveto spend $120,000 of its total budget on the island.

"TheSardinian support is not structured as a loan, since the fund will be a equity partner in each project it backs,' saysFederico Demontis, who has been working with Sardinia's regional government toset up the film fund.

Thenorthern Italian region of Friuli VeneziaGiulia already operates a film fund, but Sardinia will be the first regionin Italy to also have its own filmlaw.

Assuch, Sardinia will be able to board projects as a co-producer, like Germany's regional film fund Filmstiftung NRW and Belgium's Wallimages.

Demontis says that like other European regional filmfunds, the Sardinian Film Fund will provide an alternative source of economicdevelopment for the region.

Butit will also provide a much-needed resource for local filmmakers and producers-- and Sardinia hopes the film fund will also attract Italian and internationalprojects to the region.

'Thenumber of scripts has been growing and Eurimages and MEDIAPlus haven't been sufficient until now to cover all funding needs. Plus, statefunds either don't work well or are insufficient,' Demontissays about the need for a new source of funding.

TheSardinian regional government will debate the film law in June and the fund isexpected to be in place by the end of 2006.

Inthe meantime, Sardinia has already boarded as a co-producer of Sonetaula, by Salvatore Mereu, the local director who previously made Three-Step Dancing. The film,produced by Andrea Occhipinti's Lucky Red, has alsoreceived funding from Eurimages and is expected toshoot in Sardinia in June.

Lastautumn, Sardinia set up its first Film Commission with a budget of $242,809 (Euros200,000), to promote the island as a filmmaking location.

Filmsthat recently shot in Sardinia include French blockbuster Les Bronzes 3, which was filmed entirelyon the island.

Demontis said a US film production and a CanadianTV project have recently inquired about shooting in the region.

Inaddition to the film fund, the Sardinian film law also sets out guidelines fora film training programme to be set up in collaboration with the Sardinianuniversities of Cagliari and Sassari, and for a large filmcentre with digitalised archive material of productions shot on the island.