Berg to run German tax-break plan

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Christine Berg, head of German regional film funding body the MHS, has been tapped to manage the German government's new tax incentive plan for feature films.

Berg will oversee the new program, which goes into effect Jan. 1, that will provide €60 million ($77 million) a year in the form of tax rebates to film projects that shoot in Germany.

As outlined last month by German culture minister Bernd Neumann, the new program will allow films that qualify to claim 16%-20% of their production costs incurred in Germany (HR 10/19).

To qualify, at least 25% of a films' total budget must be spent in Germany, or 20% for films budgeted over €20 million ($25 million). Films with a German expenditure of €15 million ($18.8 million) or more immediately qualify, regardless of the percentage the German spend makes of the total budget.

Feature films budgeted at €1 million ($1.25 million), animation films costing €4 million ($5 million) or more and theatrical documentaries with a minimum budget of €200,000 ($250,000) can apply for the rebate.

Projects will not be judged by an advisory board, as is the case with most German film subsidies, but will be assessed on the basis of a points system. Film projects get points based on the national origin of its cast and crew as well as the "cultural origin" of the film's story.

Starting in December, the German Federal Film Board along with regional film bodies, will start a campaign to inform producers of the particulars of the new rebate and how to apply.

Interested producers will have to move quickly. Projects must have 75% of their financing in place to qualify for the rebate and must begin principle photography between this January and June 30, 2009. At the end of 2009, the German government will determine whether to extend, change or drop the new model.
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