Four feature projects have been awarded over $3.5m (Euros 2.7m) by the new German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) incentive scheme, which came into effect on January 1 with an annual budget of $78m (Euros 60m) for the next three years.

The largest production rebate - over $1.4m (Euros 1.1m) - has been granted to Constantin Film's CGI-animated feature Urmel Im Wunderland, the sequel of the 2006 box-office hit Impy's Island (Urmel Aus Dem Eis), while $1.1m (Euros 824,327) has been given to Leander Haussmann's adaptation of Allan and Barbara Pease's bestseller Why Men Don't Listen And Women Can't Read Maps, which has already begun shooting in Berlin.

Moreover, a grant of $471,000 (Euros 362,270) has gone to Adnan G Koese's Ironman, about the true story of German Stefan Niedrig's transformation from junkie to world-class athlete, and $479,000 (Euros 368,000) to Maggie Peren's feature debut Stellungswechsel for Claussen+Woebke+Putz Filmproduktion, which began shooting in Munich on January 17 and will be distributed in Germany by 20th Century Fox.

According to the DFFF's project manager Christine Berg, ten applications for the 'German spend' incentive were already submitted in January, the first one - for Stellungswechsel - being filed on January 2.

Speaking to Screen Daily, the German Federal Film Board's chief executive Peter Dinges explained that 'many producers had put back the shooting until 2007 which was to be expected when it was announced that the DFFF would begin this year. What has not happened is a great flood of applications, which is something people had been afraid of.'

'We have managed to make it plausible to the producers in Germany that, for a start, there will be enough money at least for the first, and probably, the second year,' Dinges noted.

Berg added that the DFFF is 'extremely attractive for foreign producers because they are not dependent here on decisions taken by committees on whether they like a project or not. The producers really have the chance of getting the money if they decide to shoot in Germany and spend a certain amount here, if they find a German co-producer and fulfil the necessary criteria - then they will be sure to get this money.'