Pan-European co-production fund Eurimages has launched a cinema digitisation programme for member countries that sit outside MEDIA Programme. Launched in 2009 by a working group, the finished programme will grant a single sum of EUR20,000 per screen in order to contribute towards the costs of acquiring and installing digital cinema equipment. Eurimages, which supports cinemas in Council of Europe member states, has opened up the scheme to supported exhibitors in states which are not open to MEDIA funding, namely Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia and Albania. After a tender process, Eurimages has awarded the contract for supply, installation, support and maintenance to European third-party facilitator XDC International, which will equip up to 144 screens across the five countries by 2013. The money is intended as a supplement to national or regional funds, but is open as of now to those that are willing to invest themselves, and is available to buy any related equipment including 3D.
Eurimages is primarily aimed at production support but for many years has also channelled smaller amounts of funding to the distribution and exhibition sector. This deal extends XDC's territorial coverage to south east Europe, and helps exhibitors in countries that are not targeted by VPF-backed rollouts. These screens are not being digitised under a VPF deal and the scale is not huge but by definition they are amongst the screens included in the digital shortfall and this will help.