Some 200 members of a German regional film office have protested to the local government at plans to close down its operations after 22 years of activity.

Filmmakers Christoph Schlingensief, Ulla Wagner, Adolf Winkelmann and producers Gerhard Schmidt (Gemini Film). Frank Huebner (ApolloMedia), Joachim Ortmanns (Lichtblick) are among 200 members of the North Rhine-Westphalia Film Office (Filmbuero NW) who have protested to the regional government at its plans to cut the Office's budget of Euros 1.9m from 2003 and only continue its operations within the Filmstiftung NRW.

The Film Office countered the argument "that no other federal state affords two film subsidies and the NRW double structure is no longer acceptable" by pointing out that the region was envied throughout Germany for its structure which "enables the diversity of filmmaking in NRW, from the prize-winning student film through the international feature film production". .

During its 22 years, the Film Office has backed internationally renowned productions like Romuald Karmakar's Der Totmacher, Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark, Hans Weingartner's White Noise and Benjamin Quabeck's No Regrets.

The Film Office has already attracted considerable support from the film industry in its fight against closure. Writing to the NRW government. Ellen Winn-Wendl, director of development and production at Berlin-based Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduction, pointed out that the Film Office has "a knack for understanding what can become leading edge".

"What Filmbuero NW is doing is supporting the fertile German talent", Winn-Wendl said. "I am perplexed as to why this organisation, of all organisations, would be chosen to be closed down, and truly hope that this is not a fait accompli and can be seriously rethought as to the ramifications -- predominantly on the younger talent".