The UK Film Council has launched a £500,000 National Lottery funded initiative to boost access to films in areas without a local screen.

Film clubs and local film societies, community groups and mobile film exhibitors are to apply to the digital fund for non-theatrical exhibition. The organisations can secure up to £5,000 to help buy DVD-based digital projection equipment.

The Film Council, which administers all lottery funding for film, said that although the UK saw 167 million visits to the cinema last year, rural locations in particular have little if any convenient access to a cinema.

'Equally,' the council added, 'for social, cultural, economic and other structural reasons, large sections of the country are disenfranchised from the cinema-going experience.'

Successful applicants will receive an award of up to 80% of the cost of the equipment.