German film industry lobby group SPIO (Spitzenorganisation de Deutschenfilmwirtschaft) has mounted a stern criticism of the Berlin festival organisers and their handling of Moritz De Hadeln's recent dismissal.

In a statement, SPIO this week said that De Hadeln had been fired without notice "after successfully heading the second most important A-List festival for 20 years and mastering with bravado the 50th anniversary celebrations and the move to Potsdamer Platz."

SPIO said that if there had to be a change at the top then it should be managed in such a way as to avoid damaging the festival and only when the question of a successor has been resolved.

Although Dieter Kosslick, head of the NRW Filmstiftung is widely tipped to replace De Hadeln, the festival's curatory board is not expected to name a successor until summer.

Despite his dismissal, De Hadeln is still scheduled to head the 2001 festival. But given the ongoing skirmishing it is difficult to imagine that it will be a comfortable ride for either selector or festival.

There was continued criticism of De Hadeln this week from director Oskar Roehler, whose film Die Unberuehrbar was not selected for Berlin this year and instead makes an appearance at Cannes in the Directors' Fortnight section. Roehler told Der Spiegel magazine that De Hadeln had over-ruled a Berlin selection panel that had voted unanimously for inclusion of his film.

De Hadeln last week told Screen International that Roehler had preferred to take his film to Cannes.