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German Film Academy president warns country is falling behind as an international production hub

Source: German Film Academy

Florian Gallenberger

Director Florian Gallenberger, president of the German Film Academy, has voiced concerns about the country’s future as an internationally competitive production hub.

The filmmaker said the proposed new financial instruments of tax incentive and investment obligation set to be introduced as part of the overall reforms to the German film funding infrastructure from 2025 do not go far enough.

Speaking at the traditional reception given by the CDU and CSU political parties to coincide with the German Film Awards on Sunday May 5, Gallenberger said the current production incentives in Germany, the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) and the German Motion Picture Fund (GMPF), offer a cash rebate amounting to a maximum of 18% of the production costs spent in Germany.

“This means we are so far behind in an international comparison that we can no longer speak of being a competitor,” he argued.

 Gallenberger recalled his recent experience making Perfect Match about the romance between Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, for Prime Video.

“We shot the film in Rome although it has nothing to do with Italy, but this was where we got between 40% and 45% tax credit,” he said. “The film was only financially viable on this basis, so the €5m from Germany were spent entirely in Italy, with me working with an Italian crew and Italian equipment.”

He admitted the 30% rebate in the tax incentive being proposed by minister Claudia Roth as part of her funding reform package “is certainly better than the 18% we currently have, but I actually think it’s far too little. If you’re going to make a new regulation, you should be at the top of the field and not at the back of the pack.”

He also pointed to the fact Germany’s competitive disadvantage compared to other countries in Europe and further afield meant that “the trend that is already begun to be felt of losing our best people will continue.”

Streamer revenues

Gallenberger also urged the introduction of an investment obligation which would require broadcasters and streamers to invest 20% of the revenues generated in Germany back into European productions.

“We can’t simply leave it up to the whim or the arbitrariness of those responsible as to whether films are produced at all in German,” he suggested. “Without such an investment obligation it would be possible for streaming services to decide from one day to the next at the behest of their corporate headquarters not to make any more local productions and this although they are generating hundreds of millions in Germany. 

“In order to be able to continue to survive we need both the incentive model and the investment obligation. They belong together and can’t be separated,” Gallenberger told the assembled audience of film industry professionals and politicians.

“We need them next year otherwise it will look bleak in the German film industry,” he predicted.

“The investment can have an economic effect, create jobs, secure the future of production companies and the whole sector of audiovisual production,” Gallenberger said, concluding these two instruments would also represent “a cultural investment as it guarantees that outstanding German films will also continue to be made in the future for the German public.

“At the end of the day, it is also an investment in the image of Germany.”

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