German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck has called for the term of the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) to be extended beyond its initial three-year period of 2007-2009 after seeing its effectiveness in creating employment and income.

The incentive scheme was launched on January 1 with an annual budget of $81.9m (Euros 60m) for the next three years to reimburse 20 cents of every Euro of 'German spend' up to a maximum of 80% of a film's total production costs.

During a visit to the Babelsberg Studios with Brandenburg's prime-minister Matthias Platzeck last week, Steinbrueck also argued that a review of the DFFF's guidelines might see the present $5.5m (Euros 4m) 'cap' for funding being removed.

Until now, the 'cap' could be increased up to $13.6m (Euros 10m) if the 'German spend' amounted to at least 35% of a film's total production costs or if two-thirds of the points of the cultural test were attained.

Applications for funding of over $5.4m (Euros 4m) have had to be submitted to an advisory committee, and this procedure was followed for the Wachowski brothers' Speed Racer and Bryan Singer's Valkyrie, which received $12.3m (Euros 9m) and $6.55m (Euros 4.8m), respectively.

Although not yet officially confirmed by the DFFF, it is understood that Tom Tykwer's action thriller The International, which begins shooting in Berlin and Potsdam from mid-September, will be the third production to jump the $5.4m (Euros 4m) hurdle.

By the end of last week, a total of 60 national and international projects had received a total of $49m (Euros 35.9m) subsidies from the DFFF. The most recent beneficiaries of the incentive scheme are Bulgarian Stephan Komandarev's Die Welt Ist Gross Und Rettung Lauert Ueberall, Hannes Stoehr's Berlin Calling, Tony Loeser's animation film Ein Fall Fuer Freunde, and Michael Glawogger's Contact High.