Israel may soon become one of the first non-European countries to enjoy the support of Eurimages, the European Cinema Support Fund, its executive director Roberto Olla said over the weekend at the Venice Film Festival.

If this occurs, it would be a great boost to Israeli cinema, which has been suffering from a financing crunch, due partly to a sharp drop in investment in films by local broadcasters.

According to Olla, quoted in the British cinema magazine Screen, international coproductions of the kind the fund encourages have been so successful "that it would be silly not to export this success story that Europe has had for the last 20 years to other countries."

He confirmed that talks were being held to include two more countries in the fund - Israel and Canada - and that other countries may also be approached.

Eurimages is run by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and has 36 European countries as members. Its annual budget is 25 million euro, of which 23 million euro is paid in by fund members, while the rest is revenue from films the fund supports.

Katriel Schory, executive director of the Israel Film Fund, who is also at the Venice festival, said Israel and Canada were the first two non-European candidates for membership because of the many coproductions both countries have had with Europeans in recent years.

"Israel today is the country most active in cinema coproductions with Europe," he said.

"Eurimages is the only pan-European fund of its kind in Europe that invests money in film production," Schory added. "If we really succeed in being part of this fund, it would be a very important source of funding for Israeli cinema."