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Mueller to head Germany’s NRW

Exec replaces Michael Schmid-Ospach

BERLIN — Petra Mueller, co-topper of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, has been tapped to head Filmstiftung North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s biggest regional funder.

Mueller, who currently heads the Medienboard with Kirsten Niehuus, will take the reins at the Dusseldorf-based org in August.

Mueller replaces Michael Schmid-Ospach, who stepped down last month after nearly a decade at the helm of the Filmstiftung. Schmid-Osbach filled the vacancy left by former Filmstiftung topper Dieter Kosslick in 2001 after he agreed to head the Berlin Film Festival. The Filmstiftung’s deputy managing director Claudia Droste-Deselaers is currently overseeing operations at the org until Mueller’s arrival this summer.

Since taking the top posts at the Medienboard in 2004, Mueller and Niehuus have transformed the org into a leading player in local and international film production in Germany.

The Medienboard, which has a budget of nearly $40 million a year, has also benefited from the federal government’s $80 million-a-year German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), as well as from the proximity and close ties to Studio Babelsberg, which have resulted in an ideal alliance that has helped fund hundreds of local and international film projects, including recent pics like Roland Emmerich’s upcoming “Anonymous,”

Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” much to the envy of other regional film boards.

For the Filmstiftung, which has a heftier budget of some $48 million, Mueller may provide a helpful hand in attracting bigger international projects. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia also boasts a major production facility: the MMC studios near Cologne.

Prior to moving to Berlin, Mueller oversaw the Cologne Conference film and television festival and ran the media consulting company HMR International, which organizes the event.

Niehuus is set to remain at the Medienboard, where her post was extended in January for a further five years.

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