German culture commissioner Claudia Roth has called for a fundamental reform of Germany’s €600 million ($640 million) per year film funding system, saying that profound changes in filmmaking, a declining admissions and too much bureaucracy made far-reaching alterations necessary.
Writing in a guest column in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Roth pointed to the success of Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which has garnered nine Oscar nominations, including best picture and international feature, to illustrate how film production has changed.
Roth, who is expected to address the issue at the opening ceremony of the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday evening, noted that the “environment for creating, making and experiencing movies” was changing drastically as streaming and global internet providers make films ever less dependent on television broadcasters and theatrical releases.
The pandemic, she added, had resulted in a sharp decline in theatrical admissions. Too many films are seen by too few people [in cinemas], she pointed out.
The country’s federal and regional funding programs are too complex, too slow and increasingly inadequate to meet the needs of filmmakers, Roth argued. “The aim of reforming film funding is also to make it more efficient.” Funding models should also provide more planning security for producers.
Roth also suggested that investment obligations for film funding systems should be examined.
“With better funding comes greater responsibility,” she wrote in the column. “Users, especially international streaming providers, should make a greater contribution to the overall success of the funding system.”
The culture commissioner also made the case for tailored funding for documentaries, shorts, artistic films and works by young directors. “These films don’t have to be aligned with the logic of the market,” she explained.
The reform must also address Germany’s changing demographics, including the increasingly multi-ethnic makeup of society, gender equality and the issue of sustainability, Roth added.
Roth’s envisioned reform could also see the creation of a film agency to bundle all of the federal government’s funding activities as well as closer links between federal and state funding organizations.
“The goal is faster procedures and better coordination between economic and artistic aspects.”
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