New feature films by Oscar-winning filmmakers Florian Gallenberger and Caroline Link are among 29 projects awarded a total of $11 million (Euros 8.4m) by the Munich-based regional public fund FFF Bayern in its first sitting of 2007.

The largest amount - $2.5m (Euros 1.9m, including Euros 500,000 from the Bavarian Bank Fund) - was allocated to Gallenberger's World War II China-based drama John Rabe, which will be produced from September with Hofmann & Voges Entertainment, EOS Entertainment and broadcaster ZDF as a feature film and two-part mini-series. The Lives Of Others lead actor Ulrich Muehe has been cast as the German Siemens manager John Rabe who became known as the 'Schindler of Nanking' for saving 250,000 people during the Japanese occupation. Daniel Bruehl, Dagmar Manzel, Gottfried John, Juergen Vogel and Jingchu Zhang will co-star.

Meanwhile, Im Winter Ein Jahr, Caroline Link's first feature film since her Oscar-winning Nowhere In Africa (Nirgendwo In Afrika), received $1.11m (Euros 850,000), while $1.3m (Euros 1m) was awarded each to two new projects by Stefan Ruzowitzky (Lilly The Witch [Hexe Lilli]) and Sven Unterwaldt (U 911).

Ruzowitzky's family entertainment film based on the children's books by Knister is being produced by Munich-based Blue Eyes Fiction with the animation studio Trixter Film, Austria's DOR-Film and Studio Babelsberg and will begin shooting later in the spring at the Babelsberg Studios. Unterwaldt's Second World War comedy U 911, starring TV comic Atze Schroeder, is the third feature film production by The Lives Of Others producers Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion. Last year, this Bavarian outfit produced Granz Henman's military comedy Stube 54 (working title) which will be released theatrically in Germany by Constantin Film.

In addition, FFF Bayern gave production support to The Story Of The Weeping Camel co-director Luigi Falorni's fiction debut Heart Of Fire (Feuerherz), which was presented at last month's Berlinale Co-Production Market; Neele Vollmar's adaptation of Birgit Vanderbeke's novel Friedliche Zeiten, based on a screenplay by award-winning screenwriter Ruth Toma (Gloomy Sunday); and to Peter Schamoni's documentary Botero - Der Umgekehrte Kolumbus portraying the Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero.