“It’s definitely not been boring for me here at the film fund over the past 12 months,” reflects Helge Albers, CEO of the local regional film fund Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH).
“We made changes to the structure and composition of the funding committees, reduced the red tape by streamlining the procedure for funding applications and have now given the jury the opportunity to invite applicants to present their projects via video conferencing during the actual funding session.”
In addition, he says, the fund hopes to “open up new perspectives in the German production and funding scene,” with the introduction of a diversity checklist which has had to be completed and submitted with each funding application since this summer.
“When we were thinking of introducing the diversity checklist, we looked around to see what else was being done in the rest of Europe, but it was never a question of taking on another model wholescale,” he says. “I wanted to have a structure that reflected the particular situation here in Hamburg and within the German context. It has triggered a debate which was already in the air as you can see from the decision recently taken by the Berlinale on its acting awards [to make them gender neutral].
“There still is much room for improvement in this area as far as the film industry is concerned. We need to regularly re-examine where we stand as an industry and I am really enjoying being part of this process.“
The fund recently responded to the very immediate challenges confronting the film industry due to the coronavirus pandemic by contributing emergency aid to Hamburg’s cinemas and participating financially in the national BKM insurance fund scheme.
Thanks to additional backing from the City of Hamburg and the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, FFHSH has also launched the €2m 3x3 incentive funding programme to support the region’s producers during the crisis. Thirteen local companies have each received €150,000 in performance-based repayable loans to invest in the development of three film projects over the next three years.
“We gave the producers a flexibility in their choice of projects and didn’t require them to name all three projects when making their application,“ Albers said. “The response to the initiative was very positive, and we had far more applications than companies we could then support.“
Recipients include System Crasher co-producer Oma Inge Film, for its mystery romance The One You’re With, Junafilm’s mystery drama The Light, Tamtam Film’s comedy Boule and Ocean Mind Emotion Pictures’ VR 360 degrees project 72 Hours.
“The situation is a moving target which means you are always having to be ready to react again to new developments,“ Albers suggests.
This week’s Filmfest gives FFHSH an opportunity to show the industry and cinema-going public the diversity of projects it supports. The seven FFHSH-backed titles screening in the Filmfest programme range from this year’s Berlinale Golden Bear winner There Is No Evil by Mohammad Rasoulof and Johannes Naber’s Curveball to Palestinian-born twins Arab and Tarzan Nasser’s Gaza Mon Amour and actor Moritz Bleibtreu’s directorial debut Cortex.
“The fact that the Filmfest is happening at all this year is a remarkable achievement in itself.” Albers says. “I know the Filmfest went through many reincarnations during the preparations: each week saw the Filmfest having to start anew with its planning under ever changing conditions.“
FilmFest Hamburg continues until October 3.