The European Commission's MEDIA International initiative has more than doubled its budget for 2009, isencouraging new approaches to distributionand will expand to include projects designed to reach new audiences.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily ahead of this year's MEDIA Info Day today, Aviva Silver, head of the MEDIA Unit, explained that five activities would be supported in 2009 with a significantly increased budget of $6.5m (Euros 5m) from the first year's $2.6m (Euros 2m).

'Last year, we supported training, a combined action line of distribution and promotion, and cinema networks,' Silver said. 'This year we have opened training up to initial training and have separated the promotion and distribution lines. Promotion is seen more in terms of professionals and access to international co-production markets.'

'With distribution, we want to have more circulation of works, but we are not going to say how this should be done. We envisage loose groupings of sales agents who might work with producers or distributors or even festivals. It is much more open,' Silver suggested.

In addition, the 2009 work programme for MEDIA International, which has just been approved, includes funding fora new line of activity.

'A totally new fifth activity being introduced this year will be about reaching audiences,' Silver explained.

'We will be looking to reach the general public and not just getting professionals together. There are many possibilities including film literacy, and the film institutes tell us there is a lot of work to be done with young people, both in and outside Europe,' Silver elaborated.

The 2009 call for proposals for Media International was published February 6.