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German film prod’n funding falls

Federal subsidy org hit by exhib dispute

BERLIN — The German Federal Film Board (FFA), the country’s main film subsidy org, said it cut its production funding in 2009 to E51.4 million ($66 million) from $80 million in 2008 due to a legal dispute between it and cinema exhibitors.

“The reason for the decline was the dispute surrounding the German Film Law,” the FFA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The FFA said that it had revenues of $100 million in 2009, up from $95 million in the previous year.

The focus of the FFA support last year was for production — $20 million for 49 films — and $23 million for film promotion and distribution.

The FFA and leading exhibs had battled over mandatory levies to finance the country’s film subsidy program. Cinema owners were legally forced to pay into the FFA pot, but payments from broadcasters had until now been voluntary — something exhibs found unfair.

The broadcasters’ contribution will now be calculated in a way similar to the method used for exhibitors — a fixed percentage of their revenue in proportion to the percentage of feature film content in their programming.

The dispute had threatened the FFA’s ability to grant much needed coin to producers and put a number of projects on hold. As a result, 86% of producers said they expect a decline in feature film production compared with 75% a year ago, while 11% said they would discontinue film production altogether.

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