Jakob M. Erwa's feature debut heile welt received the Diagonale Grand Prix for Best Austrian Feature Film at this year's showcase of Austrian film-making which was rounded off with an awards ceremony at Graz's Dom im Berg on Saturday evening.

Produced by Novotny & Novotny Filmproduktion, heile welt follows a group of adolescents in semi-documentary style as they try to cope with their emotions and environment, while their parents in turn make efforts to understand their siblings.

Peter Schreiner's Bellavista about a linguistic enclave in Sappada near the Austrian border was named Best Austrian Documentary, while the awards for Best Cinematography went to Bernhard Keller (Fallen) and Jo Molitoris (It Happened Just Before) and for Best Editing to Oliver Neumann (Immer Nie Am Meer) and Alarich Lenz (Meine Liebe Republik).

Other awards highlights included the recognition of Helmut Grasser's Allegro Film for its innovative production strategy adopted for the internationally successful teen horror film Dead In 3 Days and a special prize honouring the work of Christine Dollhofer for promoting cinematic art over the past 15 years in such positions as co-artistic director of the Diagonale and now director of Linz's Crossing Europe festival.

In addition, this year saw the Diagonale's audiences voting for their first Audience Award which went to Mirjam Unger's Vienna's Lost Daughters about eight women who were forced to flee Vienna in 1938-39 becasue of their Jewish origins.

While industry discussions at this year's festival invariably revolved around calls from film-makers and producers for a raising of the public funding budgets for film production, Austria's new Arts Minister Claudia Schmied ensured for an additional talking point with her plans for a levy to be imposed on the cinema screening of films from outside of the European Union to support the Austrian film industry.

The daily tabloid Kurier promptly spoke of a 'Hollywood tax', while Kurt Kaufmann of the Austrian exhibitors' association FLA rejected Schmied's proposal as 'a real discrimination and competitive distortion, and it would hit the wrong ones.'

Speaking to the Austrian APA news agency, Kaufmann suggested that a 'possible compromise' could see a content levy being imposed on all forms of exploitation and independent of the films' national origin.

Such a levy had been introduced in Poland two years ago, for example, to finance the Polish Film Institute.

At a discussion on Saturday afternoon on the 'new cultural policy', Schmied announced that there would be 'substantial increases' in the film budget, but suggested that such measures would only have lasting structural momentum if they were complemented by 'additional financing possibilities'.

A working group would now be set up with the Finance Ministry and the Federal Chancellor's Office to identify these other sources of financing - which could include the planned levy - and report back by early summer.