New fund brings German film industry back to life

Mon Feb 4, 2008 7:19pm EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - It was more than just the historic settings in Berlin that drew Tom Cruise to Germany last summer to film his $80 million epic "Valkyrie" about a failed 1944 attempt to assassinate Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

It was also the cash.

The German government was able to show Cruise the money -- writing a check for 4.8 million euros ($7.14 million) for the MGM/United Artists' production.

A fresh source of film subsidy has injected new vigor into Germany's rich cinematic tradition, which before the Nazis took power in 1933 had been a great rival to Hollywood with classics like Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and Josef von Sternberg's "The Blue Angel" featuring a young Marlene Dietrich.

"It's been a wundermittel (miracle cure)," said Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlin Film Festival, which starts on Thursday. About 34 international co-productions got money last year under the scheme, known as the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), although none is yet ready to show in Berlin.

"The DFFF is not only pumping money directly into the film industry but it's attracted larger investment in film projects from abroad as well," Kosslick told Reuters.

"The whole film industry infrastructure is being expanded and professionalized. It's a great leap forward."

Germany is not the only country luring international productions with cash. Singapore, Hungary, Canada and others offer handsome rebates to film production companies.   Continued...

<p>Actors dressed as soldiers of the German Wehrmacht receive instructions during the shooting of a scene of "Valkyrie" inside the German defence ministry complex "Bendlerblock" in Berlin October 12, 2007. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann</p>