The German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) has generated a 'German spend' of almost $588m (Euros 400m) in its first year of operations after backing 99 feature film and documentary projects with over $87.3m (Euros 59.4m).

Speaking exclusively to, DFFF project manager Christine Berg explained that the 99 films with an overall production volume of $823.3m (Euros 560m) had German production costs of over $570.4m (Euros 388m).

The incentive scheme was launched on January 1 of this year with an annual budget of $88.1m (Euros 60m) for the next three years to reimburse 20 cents ($0.29) of every Euro of 'German spend' up to a maximum of 80% of a film's total production costs.

The funding awarded ranged from the $44,109 (Euros 30,000) each for two documentaries by Othmar Schmiderer (Back To Africa and VOODOO - Die Kraft des Heilens) through to $ 13.2m (Euros 9m) for the Wachowski brothers' Speed Racer.

Over a third - 34 - of the supported films were co-productions. 29 of these were European co-productions such as Ole Christian Madsen's Flame & Citron, Amos Gitai's Disengagement, Theo Angelopoulos' Dust Of Time, and Helma Sanders-Brahms's Clara, with another five - Speed Racer, Bryan Singer's Valkyrie, Tom Tykwer's The International, Sandra Nettelbeck's Helen (with Canada) and Florian Baxmeyer's The Three Detectives and The Secret of Terror Castle (with South Africa)

According to Berg, the DFFF's first year 'exceeded all our expectations. The fund has been so successful because we worked very closely with the industry and have wanted to strengthen the position of the German producers and the film industry in Germany as a whole.'

'That's why a project like The International was a dream for us because they managed to pair up money from America with a German director and his team,' Berg said. 'We couldn't ask for anything better to happen to us.'

She agreed that the increased number of large international productions in Germany - and particularly in the Berlin-Brandenburg region - this year had put pressure on the number of available crew members and facilities, but argued that 'such a situation is ten times more preferable for me than say four years ago when people in Hamburg and elsewhere were twiddling their thumbs. I know with the big productions in Babelsberg people were also brought from Hamburg or Munich to work in the crews. We showed this year that Germany as a production hub have crew and facilities of a very high standard.'

Berg added that she had been 'surprised' by the enthusiastic reception given to the DFFF model at presentations around Europe in recent months, although she admitted that there were two key hurdles for for non-German European producers wanting to benefit from the fund. 'You have to have a minimum of 25% production costs spent in Germany and know that shooting abroad with a German team does not count.

'Moreover, in the case of German minority co-productions and with a director who is not so well known in Germany, it is often hard to get a distributor to commit at such an early point as part of the application.'

Looking ahead to the beginning of next year, Berg said that an evaluation is underway to compare the volume of production in Germany this year with that for the previous two years and announced that the compatibility of the DFFF model with the new UK tax incentive will be the focus of a meeting to be organised with the UK Film Council and producers from both countries during next February's Berlinale.