The German city of Hamburg's status as a film and TV production location is under serious threat following plans by the new Senate to slash almost $915,000 (DM 2m) from the 2002 budget for the city's public FilmFoerderung film fund.
Until now, the city's cultural and economic senates had each contributed around $3.4m (DM 7.5m) annually to finance the fund's activities, but the city's arts committee has submitted a draft budget which would see only $6.3m (DM 13.7m) forthcoming from the public purse. To make matters worse, public broadcasters NDR and ZDF might then not each pay their annual $915,000 (DM 2m) to the fund, as they are only contractually bound to do this so long as Hamburg guarantees the initial volume of $6.9m (DM 15m).
Speaking to German newspaper Die Welt, FilmFoerderung Hamburg's chief executive Eva Hubert called the announcement "alarming" as "it not only holds the danger that the broadcasters terminate their commitment, but also hits the Hamburg film industry in an exceptionally difficult situation where commissions are only just dribbling through". She has protested to the City Mayor and the senators in the hope that the measures will be reversed.
Until now, FilmFoerderung Hamburg has had an annual budget of $8.7m (DM 19m) which is much less than those for other German subsidy funds such as Filmstiftung NRW $27.4m (DM 60m), FFF Bayern $27.4m (DM 60m), Filmboard Berlin-Brandenburg $14.9m (DM 32.5m) and MDM $11.4m (DM 25m).
Hamburg has placed particular emphasis on supporting projects by the up-and-coming generation of local filmmakers - from Fatih Akin to Miguel Alexandre - as well as the city's thriving animation scene and has been a regular partner on international co-productions - from Sergei Bodrov's Bear's Kiss through Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham to Fridrik Thor Fridriksson's Falcons.