Federal, regional subsidies lure films

Snapshot: Germany

BERLIN — Despite a fast-falling greenback, Germany is still attracting its share of major U.S. productions.

While there’s ample financing available to producers from the country’s generous film subsidies, Christine Berg, head of Germany’s E60 million ($92 million) Federal Film Fund, says there are a number of other great reasons why U.S. filmmakers like Germany.

“It’s not just the fund money that attracts international producers,” she says. “They also come because there … are extremely good conditions here for filming. There’s an excellent infrastructure, good people, great locations and first-rate crews.”

Among international productions skedded for Germany, Michael Hoffman’s biopic about Leo Tolstoy, “The Last Station,” starring Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren and James McAvoy, starts shooting in April in the Saxon-Anhalt city of Wittenberg.

The $20 million pic, a co-production between the U.K.’s Zephyr Films and Berlin-based Egoli Tossell, has secured much of its financing from Germany, including coin from the German Federal Film Board and regional subsidies Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Mitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung. Pic is also set to receive substantial support from the Federal Film Fund.

Based on the novel by Jay Parini, the film chronicles the last year in the life of the Russian author and the turmoil caused by his idealistic principles and his vast wealth.

Meanwhile, Julie Delpy is currently shooting “The Countess,” her period thriller about 16th-century Hungarian Countess Bathory, who, legend has it, liked to bathe in the blood of virgins.

Delpy had originally planned to shoot the film in Eastern Europe, but once Berlin-based X Filme Intl. came aboard, she and producer Andro Steinborn decided to shoot in Germany, a move Steinborn says made more economic sense.

X Filme Intl. is financing the $8.5 million pic through federal and regional subsidies, including Mitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung, and will likely receive additional support from the Federal Film Fund.

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