New feature films by John Irvin, Michael Hoffman, Aktan Arym Kubat and Oskar Roehler are among projects backed with over $6.1 million (Euros 4.6m) by the Leipzig-based regional public fund Mitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung (MDM).

The largest single amount - $1.2m (Euros 900,000) - was awarded to UK director John Irvin's planned biopic of humanist Albert Schweitzer for NFP neue film produktion (producer of the internationally successful Luther).

Egoli Tossell Film's $17.3m (Euros 13m) production of Michael Hoffman's The Last Station received $1.06m (Euros 800,000). The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep and Laura Linney, will be produced with the UK's Zephyr Films and is being handled internationally by The Little Film Company.

Production support was also granted at MDM's first funding session of 2007 to Oskar Roehler's 1950s-set love story Lulu And Jimi, which will be released theatrically in Germany by X Verleih and shot at locations in Bucharest, the Thuringian Forest and the Rhineland from mid-July.

In addition, funding was allocated to Kirghiz filmmaker Aktan Arym Kubat for his comedy The Light, which was pitched at last year's B2B Industry Meetings and Rotterdam's CineMart in January and will be co-produced by Halle-based Pallas Films with Cedomir Kolar and Danis Tanovic's A.S.A.P. Films and Bishkek-based Oy Art. Backing has also been forthcoming for the project from France's Fonds Sud and the Berlinale's World Cinema Fund, with The Match Factory handling world sales.

Other projects backed this time around included Mediopolis Film's production of Marian Kiss's documentary Fliegerkosmonauten - Space Sailors about the last Socialist heroes; Babelsberg film school graduate Nicolai Rohde's feature debut Der Lotse, to be produced by moneypenny filmproduktion with ZDF's Das kleine Fernsehspiel unit; and Joseph Vilsmaier's TV two-parter Hafen Der Hoffnung - Die Letzte Fahrt Der Wilhelm Gustloff about one of the biggest maritime catastrophes of all time when thousands of refugees perished on the sinking of the 'Wilhelm Gustloff' in January 1945.