Germany's public and private broadcasters have agreed to double their financial contribution to the German Federal Film Board (FFA) to Euros 22.4m from 2004, State Minister for Culture Christina Weiss (pictured) announced on unveiling the draft German Film Law (FFG) on Wednesday (April 2).

While public channels ARD and ZDF will provide Euros 11.2m, the private commercial stations' contribution will consist of both financial support as well as offering advertising slots for German films and developing a new programme format to encourage cinema-goers to see local releases.

"This a real breakthrough and the beginning of a new, more flexible possibility for film funding in Germany because we want to do more to support the films on their way after production in the areas of marketing and promotion", Weiss explained.

With a proposed increase in the cinema and video levies, the funds made available to FFA will increase from the present Euros 45m to Euros 72m.

Furthermore, the draft law's proposed revision to the retroactive "reference" funding category should go some way to mollifying a group of independent production companies such as Peter Rommel Productions, Egoli Tossell Film and zero film who had been concerned that their kind of films might be harder to produce in future because of a stricter qualifying procedure.

Weiss' new scheme for "reference" support, which producers use to invest in new feature projects, envisages that films must score at least 150,000 reference points, either made up solely of German cinema admissions or of a combination of domestic admissions together with success at international festivals and awards

A film must have been seen by at least 150,000 cinemagoers if a producer only wants to base the film's success on its German theatrical release. But that minimum would fall to 50,000 admissions if the producer also wants to consider a film's success record at festivals and winning prizes to reach the 150,000 reference points .

According to the draft from Weiss' ministry, a points system would be introduced for prizes and festival successes as follows:

awarding of a Golden Globe or Academy Award , or main competition prize at Cannes, Berlin or Venice - 300,000 points eachawarding of European Film Award, main competition prize at other internationally significant festivals, nomination for the Golden Globe or the Academy Award, or participation in the main competition at Cannes, Berlin or Venice - 150,000 points each.Participation in main competition of other internationally significant festivals or the nomination for the German Film Prize or the European Film Prize - 50,000 points each.

In this way, a film would be able to reach the 150,000 points (and possibly more) through festival invitations, nominations or prizes even though it might not have been an commercial success at home.

Moreover, FFA board member Rolf Baehr told that the film industry would be regularly consulted to ensure that the appropriate international festivals are eligible for scoring points.