EU's Media Mundus begins funding

Full aid program to be operational in 2011

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission on Wednesday took the wraps off plans for the first $3 million from the EU film aid program -- designed to boost links between industry professionals across the globe.

It is expected to be only the start of a planned $150 million "Media Mundus" program to help foreign filmmakers.

The initial funding is for 18 projects from Canada, Latin America, India, China, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Bosnia, Turkey and Georgia. They include joint-training schemes, cooperation between cinema networks and other initiatives involving TV shows, animation, documentaries and video games.

One of the projects backs the Europa Cinemas network that includes 230 cinemas in Europe and 148 cinemas from the rest of the world. Another, the Cartoon Connection project, is organizing a training plan for co-producing cartoons for European, Latin American and Canadian filmmakers.

The full Media Mundus program, which could be operational in 2011, aims to support European movies in overseas territories and help foreign filmmakers break into the EU market. It will run alongside the EU's established Media scheme, which has backed such movies as this year's Festival de Cannes winner "The Class" and Oscar winners "The Counterfeiters" and "La Vie en Rose."