Angela Merkel, who becomes Germany’s first female chancellor today, is expected to name film buff Bernd Neumann federal commissioner for cultural and media affairs, replacing Christina Weiss, who has held the post since 2002.The head of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party in the state of Bremen and a member of the German Federal Film Board’s administrative council, Neumann is a pragmatic politician with an eye toward bottom-line results. Neumann has already reassured the film industry and cultural community that it won’t be neglected by the new government. He’s backing a sale-and-leaseback scheme to spur private investment in film and has also promised a crackdown on film piracy. The politico has blasted a planned three-year, e90 million ($105 million) revolving fund to help the local film industry bear the end of tax-shelter private investment funds, calling the proposed government-financed plan an “emergency solution” that was more a “state instrument than a sound economic model.” With outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats nearly equal partners in Merkel’s coalition government, the fund is expected to get the greenlight.
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