Collaboration between the German and South African film and televisionindustries has been given a major boost with the signing of a co-productiontreaty between the two countries.

Structured along the same lines as other treaties with such countries asFrance, the agreement will recognise films made under the auspices of thetreaty as national films and will allow German and South African co-producersto benefit from all of the incentives available to the film industry in bothcountries.

The financial participation of the co-producing partners should not beless than 20% and also not exceed 80% of the film's overall costs, withcorresponding involvement in the artistic, talent and technical fields.

In addition, a joint committee of government representatives and figuresfrom the film, TV and video industry will be established and meet at regularintervals to monitor the operation and development of the treaty.

Speaking to at this week's Mannheim Meetings,German producer Axel Moebius of Thoke + Moebius Film (TMF) pointed out that theconditions for shooting in South Africa were very good especially given theexperiences from handling the production of commercials. "There is astrong film infrastructure on a high level, whether it is equipment rental,postproduction or crew members," Moebous said. "I think this is agreat chance to set about developing more co-productions. The treaty in itselfis a political statement for cultural exchange, so it is now up to theproducers, screenwriters and funders to fill this agreement with life."

In his opinion, the Berlinale's World Cinema Fund (WCF) (whichreportedly received 156 projects for its first funding deadline at the end ofOctober) could be one step to reaching this goal since Southern Africa is oneof the regions identified for support by the WCF over the next three years.

Moebius, who had attended last week's Sitengi Film & TV Market withpartner Christoph Thoke and other German industry figures such as Bavaria Film International's Michael Weber and the Berlinale Co-production Market's SonjaMoerkens, revealed that TMF is "now concretely looking at three SouthAfrican projects pitched there. The first questions for us are the quality ofthe screenplay, what experience the other producer has, and what does theproject have to do with Germany. I am pretty sure that Thoke + Moebius will beinvolved in a coproduction with South Africa in the future."