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German Film Funding Changes ‘Will Have a Very Positive Effect on the Production Scene,’ Medienboard Chief Kirsten Niehuus Says

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Kirsten Niehuus, head of German film fund Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, is confident that the changes to film funding proposed by the German government recently will have a “very positive effect on the production scene in Berlin-Brandenburg.”

The proposed changes to the funding system were presented last week to German lawmakers in the Bundestag by commissioner for culture and media Claudia Roth (see here).

Kirsten Niehuus, Martin Moszkowicz
Courtesy of Sebastian Gabsch/Medienboard

Speaking to Variety Saturday at a party Medienboard hosted at Berlin’s Holzmarkt, Niehuus said the changes “will mean that we would have a tax system in place that could compete, for instance, with Budapest or Prague, so that not so many German productions would go and shoot somewhere else, and more foreign productions would come and shoot in Germany.”

Looking at the media landscape across Germany she notes that one major challenge is the decision by high-end outlets such as Paramount+, HBO and Sky to cancel local productions, and she noted “the streamers are not such reliable partners anymore.” She added: “So I think producers are having a really hard time at the moment.”

On a happier note, the Berlin government raised Medienboard’s budget by Euros 6 million over the next two years, which will be targeted at the exhibition sector in the region, allowing for the upgrading of facilities at movie theaters. “We felt that the large number of cinemas in this region is really part of the culture, like theaters, like opera houses, and that they also need extra care,” she said.

The “From Hilde, With Love” team: Christoph Friedel, Claudia Steffen, Andreas Dresen, Liv Lisa Fries, Johannes Hegemann, Sina Martens, Alexander Scheer, Lisa Hrdina, Lena Urzendowsky
Courtesy of Sebastian Gabsch/Medienboard

In terms of the Berlinale, she hopes that the new festival director Tricia Tuttle will revive the summer screenings. “Audience-wise, it was very much appreciated by the Berlin audience when [the festival] played in the summer on Museum Island. They loved that,” she said.

The Medienboard party, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the organization, was attended by talent from Berlinale films “From Hilde, With Love,” “Dying,” “Architecton” and “My Favorite Cake,” alongside talent from other films funded by the body.

Representing “Hilde” were director Andreas Dresen, and lead actors Liv Lisa Fries and Johannes Hegemann, among others, and “Dying” was represented by director Matthias Glasner, and actors Lars Eidinger, Lilith Stangenberg and Ronald Zehrfeld. Actors Lily Farhadpour and Esmail Mehrabi flew the flag for “My Favorite Cake,” and Viktor Kossakovsky, director of “Architecton,” also attended.

The “My Favorite Cake” team
Courtesy of Sebastian Gabsch/Medienboard

Other films in the festival that Medienboard funded include Julia von Heinz’s “Treasure,” starring Lena Dunham and Stephen Fry; Nora Fingscheidt’s “The Outrun,” starring Saoirse Ronan and Paapa Essiedu; and Bruno Dumont’s “The Empire.”

Among the upcoming productions that Medienboard is supporting are Tom Tykwer’s “The Light,” “Yellow Letters,” directed by Ilker Çatak, who helmed the Oscar-nominated “The Teachers’ Lounge,” and a new Wes Anderson project, which will shoot at Berlin’s Studio Babelsberg.

These films demonstrate the wide range of international arthouse films that Medienboard supports, Niehuus said.

The team from Matthias Glasner’s “Dying.”
Courtesy of Sebastian Gabsch/Medienboard