Fledgling distributor Timebandits Films has been lambasted by fellow German arthouse distributors for bringing forward the release date of Fatih Akin's Golden Bear-winner Head-On (Gegen Die Wand) from April 22 to March 11.

In an open letter from 12 distributors including Arsenal Film, Kinowelt, Kool Film, Senator Film, Solo Film and Ventura Film, Timebandits was criticised for "an unprecedented" move which would damage "not only the films of your competitors, but also your own as well as the whole arthouse sector."

"With the knowledge that many arthouse cinema-owners would like to show the Berlinale winner in their cinemas and therefore now have to change their programmes at short notice, you are trying now with all means to place Head-On in the arthouse cinemas to the detriment of other films vested with great hopes (from Kroko to Spring, Summer...)," the open letter charged.

In defence of Timebandits' decision, managing director Gerhard Gross told ScreenDaily.com that the decision to bring the film forward had been made on the day after the Berlinale awards ceremony.

"Everyone was saying that we should bring the film's release forward as early as possible", Gross explained. "Moreover, there was a density [of releases] in April which we don't have in March, and we were also able to get better screens for the new opening date."

Originally, Head-On was going to be released on April 22 against other such arthouse titles as Academy Films' Silent Waters, UIP's Schultze Gets The Blues and Kairos' Roozi Keh Zan Shodam. The new date of March 11 will see Akin's raw drama lining up against Kool Film's Le Papillon, Ventura Film's documentary Die Kinder Sind Tot and Rapid Eye Movies' Blessing Bell, among others.