Switzerland's Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Film Centre and the Swiss Short Film Agency have joined forces to launch Swiss Films to give the Alpine nation's cinema a higher profile at home and abroad.

The new promotion agency will start work at offices in Zurich and Geneva from January 1, 2004 as part of a planned three-year trial period from 2004-2006 and will be open to other organisations such as Film Location Switzerland becoming members.

Swiss Films' annual operating budget of $1.2m will be constituted from subsidies from the Federation, cantons and communities, private donations, sponsorship and own funds. Micha Schiwow, until now managing director of the Swiss Film Center, will also assume this role at Swiss Films, with Pro Helvetia's Sabina Brocal serving as deputy managing director.