New German government backs film industry

Conservative coalition agrees on film-related policies

COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany's new government is positioning itself as a friend of the local film industry, pledging to strengthen film financing structures and hasten the digitalization of the country's cinema network.

The conservative coalition government headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday agreed on a range of policies, which tick off several items on the industry's wish list.

Top of that list is the continuation of the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) -- the tax rebate scheme with a €60 million ($90 million) annual budget. DFFF capital helped bankroll recent German productions such as "The Last Station," "Dessert Flower," "Pope Joan" and "The White Ribbon" as well as U.S. co-productions including "The Reader" and "Inglourious Basterds."

Also on Merkel's agenda is an amendment to Germany's current film financing law, which should shore up subsidy support for local filmmakers. On the digital front, the new coalition has said it would work together with state governments and the film industry to "step-by-step, implement the digitalization of cinemas nationwide."

The only area where the film industry didn't get its way was online. The new government pledged it would defend copyright in the Internet era but it flatly rejected the industry's call for a "three strikes" law that would cut off online access to Internet pirates.