After years of trying to fight the force of Hollywood at the box office, German filmmakers are now gaining recognition and are poised to receive a cash injection to keep the flurry of hit home-grown flicks coming.
The new film fund could help create more box office hits like "Head On"
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government has pledged to create a risk capital fund worth 90 million euros ($110 million) to be distributed over the next three years to help increase competitiveness of German films and stimulate employment in domestic film studios.
Culture Secretary Christina Weiss said that movies produced or even co-produced by German companies would be eligible for loans of as much as 20 percent of the overall production budget provided they spent at least five times the amount they borrowed within Germany.
Election results could blight plan
The fund would replace money currently available to producers through special media funds, when the government axes the tax breaks presently available to them.
Although it is not sure if the opposition conservatives -- who are poised to win the federal poll on Sept. 18 -- will endorse the fund, it is known that they too plan to end the current media fund tax advantages.
But Weiss said she thought the risk fund concept was a "sustainable instrument" which stands a fair chance of meeting with opposition approval.
Upturn in film industry
For years now, cinemas and TV screens across the country have been more a platform for Hollywood productions than for German movies. But 2004 box office takings showed some signs of change with a waning interest in big-budget blockbusters.
Scene from "Downfall" with Bruno Ganz and Heino Ferch
Of the 430 films which made it onto the silver screen in Germany last year, 121 of them were home-grown, compared to 179 US productions.
With 37 million people turning out to watch a German theatrical release, last year was the best for the national film industry in a decade.
Success across the board
The big hits, which stretched across the genre board from art-house to mainstream comedy included "Die Fetten Jahre sind Vorbei" ("The Edukators") by director Hans Weingartner, which received a 15-minute standing ovation at Cannes.
Scene from "Dreamship Enterprise"
Among the top six were the Star Trek spoof "Traumship Surprise" ("Dreamship Enterprise"), which attracted a viewing public of 9.1 million, and a fairytale parody called "Sieben Zwerge" ("Seven Dwarfs").
At the more serious end of the program, "Der Untergang" ("The Downfall"), which tells the story of Hitler's last days, was nominated for an Oscar and "Gegen die Wand" ("Head On") won the Golden Bear at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival.