The Germans were in bullish mood in Cannes yesterday, talking up their 'lean, straightforward' new Federal Film Fund to an audience of international producers.

The Fund, worth $242m (180m) Euros from 2007 to 2009, is open to international co-productions. In the five months of its existence, it has already backed 24 projects, spending around $23.2m (17.4m Euros).

This has included a 9m Euro grant to the Wachowski brothers' Speed Racer - 5m Euros more than the usual limit of 4m Euros. The Fund's advisory committee approved this grant on the condition that the film was produced at the Babelsberg Film Studios near Berlin.

State Minister For Culture And Media Bernd Neumann was summoned away from Cannes before the presentation began but still managed to deliver a speech by proxy, with a fellow politician reading his words on his behalf.

Neumann boasted that with the new Fund, 'decisions are made quickly and transparently.' He also asserted that the Fund will quickly make Germany more attractive as a destination for large-scale co-productions. 'It is still too early to assess the long-term impact of the German Film Fund but this magnificent start strengthens us in our opinion that we are on the right track,' he said.

If the Fund works, there is the strong possibility that it will be extended in its present - or in a revised form - after 2009.

Any theatrical film with a budget of 1m Euros is eligible. The Fund is automatic: a non-repayable and non-recoupable grant based on eligible German spend.

With international co-productions, applicants' financial contribution must amount to at least 20% of the film's production budget. The creative and technical contribution must relate to the financial contribution. In other words, 'financial only' co-productions will not be allowed.

A film's theatrical release in Germany must be secured on at least 30 prints. As with the new British tax credit, films need to pass a cultural test. On feature films, 48 out of a possible 94 points need to be achieved in the categories 'cultural content and creative talents' (A category) and production, i.e. shooting, VFX, SFX, music, sound, lab etc. (B category.).