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INDUSTRY / MARKET Germany

German film institutions provide support for the industry during the coronavirus pandemic

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- The country’s federal and regional film institutions have announced a joint support package of €15 million

German film institutions provide support for the industry during the coronavirus pandemic
The Zoo Palast cinema in Berlin (© Ansgar Koreng)

German film bodies have come up with a series of measures and help packages intended to soften the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the local film industry. Currently, all of the cinemas in the country are closed following an agreement reached by the Federal Government and the presidents of the 16 Länder on 16 March, and they are to remain closed until further notice.

Apart from the immediate financial aid packages provided to film professionals by the government, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM), the Federal Government's Centre of Excellence for the Cultural and Creative Industries, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and the Länder, the country’s film institutions have, together, decided on a set of measures with which they intend to support the cinema sector during the crisis.

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In addition to the aid schemes devised by each of the funding bodies, federal and regional film institutions have jointly created a support programme with a total value of €15 million, providing aid for production companies, distributors and theatrical exhibitors affected by the pandemic. Regional film bodies FilmFernsehFonds Bayern (FFF), Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH), Film- und Medienstiftung NRW (FMS), HessenFilm, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (MBB), Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg (MFG), Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM) and nordmedia devised the package of measures together with the German Federal Film Board (FFA), the BKM, the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), Kultureller Filmförderung and the German Motion Picture Fund (GMPF).

Amongst other steps, the package provides help for companies staging films that received approval for backing before 18 March and which were either planning to begin production before 30 June or had to have a break in shooting because of the pandemic. The set of measures also comes to the rescue of distributors handling films that received approval for backing before 18 March and which were scheduled to be released before 30 June. Repayments to the film institutions will be waived in all of the above-mentioned cases.

Another notable initiative is the emergency support plan for arthouse cinemas announced by the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. The regional funding body is raising its 2020 budget for the support of local arthouse cinemas to €1.1 million. Furthermore, all cinemas from the area that applied to enter the competition for MBB’s cinema programming prizes this year will immediately receive €10,000 worth of support. Meanwhile, cinemas selected to win a prize will instead receive said award and a top-up of 50%. Similarly, Film- und Medienstifting NRW announced that each cinema that pocketed an NRW programming prize in 2019 will now receive a top-up of €5,000. MFG Baden-Württemberg is offering the same amount to the cinemas it awarded last year and has waived the obligation to repay the loans granted for innovation in theatrical exhibition.

In order to provide an overview of the situation for the industry during the crisis, German Films – the national information and advisory centre for the promotion of German cinema worldwide – has set up a special page, on which it gathers information regarding international festivals and markets that have been cancelled, postponed or transformed, as well as details of international cinema closures, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Encompassing various categories connected with the international presentation and exhibition of German films, the industry service is continuously updating and supplementing the information it provides on its website, summing up key facts regarding changes and postponements in the festival and distribution landscape resulting from the spread of the coronavirus.

The film body states that the COVID-19 pandemic will not affect its Distribution Support scheme. Foreign distributors releasing a recent German fiction feature or documentary in the cinema were able to apply for support in the latest session until 2 April, and all remaining submission deadlines are to be maintained as planned. Lastly, German Films has announced that it has teamed up with Telescope in the USA and Usheru internationally to help audiences find German content available to stream in 22 different territories.

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