Hamburg's film scene has been rocked by plans unveiled bynewly appointed Culture Senator Karin von Welck to slash the city's support ofFilmFoerderung Hamburg (FFH) from Euros 7m to Euros 3.5m for 2005/6.

FFH currently has an annual budget of around Euros 9m madeup of contributions from Hamburg itself and public broadcasters NDR and ZDF.The money has helped attract a string of German and international productionsto the city.

Inan interview with local newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt, von Welck suggested thatthe remaining funds would be used "to improve film funding and concentrateon young filmmakers." She argued that the Euro 3.5m was "still alot" compared in relation to other German federal states and concluded:"Unfortunately, one can't afford everything."

In an initial reaction, FFH's executive director Eva Hubert,who recently extended her contract to 2010, said that von Welck's"dramatic cut in the Hamburg film funding comes for me quiteunexpectedly", describing it as "an absolute blow in the solar plexusand a catastrophe for Hamburg as a centre for film and television, Now evenmore projects will go to other cities."

She added that the strategic partnership forged with the UKFilm Council in the field of co-production and financing could be thrown intoquestion by the Senator's proposal. "It is sheer madness that the work wehave done is not being properly recognised ," she argued.

According to internal FFH statistics, 12 feature films, 33TV movies, 55 crime series episodes and 26 documentaries and shorts wereproduced in the city last year. These included Fatih Akin's Golden Bear-winningHead-On (which is one of the hot favourites to win one or more Lolas atthe German Film Awards on Friday evening), Lars Buechel's Erbsen Auf HalbSechs, Sandra Nettelbeck's Sergeant Pepper and Antonia Bird's TheHamburg Cell.

This year has seen the shooting of such films as Anno Saul'sKebab Connection, Diane Bertrand's L'Annulaire, Buket Alakus' Ofsaytand preparations for Anthony Byrne's Irish-UK-German co-production ShortOrder which is set film for five weeks in a Hamburg studio this summer.

Moreover, 29 of FFH-backed films won prizes at internationalfestivals last year including Margarethe von Trotta's Rosenstrasse, KimKi-Duk's Spring. Summer, Fall. Winter..and Spring, Alexander Sokurov's RussianArk and Yuksel Yavuz's Little Bit Of Freedom (Kleine Freiheit).