Albert Wiederspiel has been appointed successor to Josef Wutz as head of Filmfest Hamburg and will take up his new post from January 1, 2003.

With over 17 years experience in the international film industry for such companies as 20th Century Fox, PolyGram/Universal Pictures and most recently as head of distribution at Tobis StudioCanal, Wiederspiel has an extensive network of contacts to production companies, distributors and other festivals.

The change at the top has been accompanied by a new shareholding structure for the Filmfest organisation: as from January, Filmfest Hamburg GmbH will be a 100% subsidiary of the local public film fund FilmFoerderung Hamburg.

As Eva Hubert, managing director of FilmFoerderung Hamburg, explained, "both companies, FilmFoerderung Hamburg and Filmfest, will continue to work independently, but be in closer contact with one another than before to intensify the dialogue about film in Hamburg through joint events."

Meanwhile, at the other end of the country, the Munich Film Festival organisation has decided to cancel the 2003 edition of the International Festival of Film Schools which is normally held alongside the main Film Festival.

The festival's board cited "urgently necessary savings in the coming year as well as the desire for a new positioning of the student film competition" as the reasons for not holding the festival. IMF's managing director Eberhard Hauff and his successor Andreas Stroehl have now been asked to draft plans in cooperation with Munich's Academy for Television & Film (HFF) and the International Assocation of Film Schools (CILECT) for a new-look festival from 2004.