German funder back in business

FFA resumes production after shutting down

BERLIN — The German Federal Film Board (FFA), the country’s main film subsidy org, has resumed production funding after shutting down earlier this year in the wake of a legal dispute between it and cinema exhibitors, who collectively rep one of its main sponsors.

The FFA, which has an annual war chest of $105 million for a wide array of subsidies, determined its 2009 budget at a special meeting of its administrative council on April 30, enabling it to resume funding.

The FFA is financed through mandatory levies paid by theatrical exhibs and home entertainment distribs as well as voluntary contributions from TV broadcasters.

It was forced to halt funding after a federal court ruled in February that the levy system is unconstitutional because exhibs and homevideo distribs are legally required to pay while TV broadcasters’ contributions are voluntary.

Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann is lobbying for an amendment to the film law that would make all contributions compulsory.

Among recent productions that have benefited from FFA coin are Stephen Daldry’s Oscar-winning “The Reader” and Michael Hoffman’s upcoming Leo Tolstoy biopic “The Last Station,” starring Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer.

The dispute has not affected the $80 million-a-year German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) or the country’s eight other regional and federal subsidy programs, which have a combined budget of some $308.6 million.

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