Austria's leadinginternational filmmaker Michael Haneke (Hidden)has spoken out against proposals by the Austrian Producers Association toconcentrate public film funding on the makers of commercially successful films.

Speaking at the first offour roundtables on the state of Austrian film production at this week's Diagonale - Festival of Austrian Cinema, Haneke said: "If I hadn't the chance to makefinancially unsuccessful films [at the beginning of my career], I wouldn't havethen have been able to make any successful films. One must consider the factthat if the talking about changes to the funding basically comes down to filmsbeing funded which are successful in Austria, then this will lead by and large - with a few exceptions - to provinciality."

He warned that such astrategy would lead to "the film nation of Austria becoming a blank spaceon the map of cinema again."

In his defence, AllegroFilm's Helmut Grasser, who has been president of the Austrian Film ProducersAssociation since last year, argued that he was not advocating the productionof the provincial film, but suggested that the statistics - such as the localdomestic market share of 2% for Austrian films and the fact that only 8 of 120recent Austrian productions were sold abroad - indicated that somethingurgently needed to be done for one to bring local audiences back to see localfilms.

"We have a realproblem when I see that the majority of our films neither attract cinemagoersat home, nor have any sales abroad," noted Grasser, who proposed that 75%of the public film funding in Austria should be reserved for filmswhich would be deemed as having the potential to attract at least, say, 20,000cinema-goers in the home market, while the remaining 25% would be allocated to "artisticfilms."