Over a dozen film festivals and workshops in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have joined forces to attack the NRW regional government for proposed spending cuts which would see its budget for film cultural activities slashed by around 50% by 2005.

The protesting festivals include the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Cologne's Feminale, Duisburg Film Week, and film workshops in Duesseldorf and Muenster.

The level of grants had already been reduced this year over 2002, but the 2003 budget of Euros 660,000 is now set to be cut by up to 35% next year and by another 15% in 2005.

"The extent of these cuts loses any kind of proportion and will permanently damage the cultural landscape of North Rhine-Westphalia. Some institutions will have to stop their work", a joint press declaration by the festivals and workshops stated.

"The Land of North Rhine-Westphalia is increasingly withdrawing from its cultural and federal responsibility. The cuts in the grants no longer show any evidence of a political idea or perspective. North Rhine-Westphalia is consequently in danger of losing its unique character and becoming Germany's film cultural wasteland", the declaration continued.

Reacting to a suggestion from Culture Minister Michael Vesper's that one should stem the phenomenon of "festivalitis" in the region, the declaration's signatories pointed out that only one new festival had been launched in the last few years - the Ruhr-Triennale - and that had been the brainchild of Vesper himself.