Spanish film-makers and industry representatives are calling on their government to help better promote Spanish cinema abroad by following the model of Unifrance.

The call came as one of a series of conclusions out of a landmark two-day industry-wide conference held this week in Cordoba (Feb 12-14) to analyse key issues facing the Spanish film sector.

'The case of Unifrance constitutes a basic reference for how the different institutions of a country unite their efforts for the promotion of national cinema, gaining in effectiveness and efficiency,' concluded the more than 150 professionals convened by authors' rights organisation SGAE under the banner 'Meeting of Audiovisual Creators.'

Participants did highlight two current hot-button issues in Spain, calling for more rigorous surveillance of piracy and internet downloading of films, and for more careful monitoring of the fulfilment of legal obligations such as the investment requirements placed on broadcasters in 2001 and likely to increase with the new Spanish Film Law.

Most of the remaining conclusions of the conference refer specifically to the new law, currently at draft stage and under debate by the industry.

The bill received high marks, particularly in its support for independent production, distribution and exhibition in Spain. It has been strongly criticiced in recent weeks by both broadcasters' and exhibitors' organisations.

'The new Film Law won't satisfy 100% of the audiovisual sector, but it will offer a balance for all interested parties,' Spanish Culture Minister Carmen Calvo told the conference, confirming that the definitive text of the new law would be ready in April.

Conference participants also made a plea for greater attention to the creation of movie-goers through cinema education. 'If programs of this type are not carried out, we run the risk that enjoying films in theatres become an elitist and minority activity, as has happened in other artistic fields.' Global box office admissions in Spain last year were down 2.2%, and Spanish films saw more than 2.5m fewer ticket sales overall.