Film Funding Agency

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Film Funding Agency
Logo: Filmförderungsanstalt-Logo.svg
President: Bernd Neumann
Board: Peter thing
Establishment date: March 6, 1968
Place: Berlin
Organizational form: Federal agency under public law
Budget: 78.7 million euros (2018)
Employee: 68 (2018)
Address: Great Presidential
Street 9 10178 Berlin

The Filmförderungsanstalt ( FFA ) is a federal agency under public law . It is Germany's national film funding agency and supports all aspects of German film. In addition to its role as a funding body, the organization is a central service provider for the German film industry . Under the aspect of economic efficiency and culture, the FFA supports cinema films in all phases of creation and exploitation: from script development to production to distribution , sales and video. Further funds are used to promote cinemas, to preserve the cinematic heritage , to perceive and disseminate German films abroad and to provide film education. In addition, the FFA has the task of supporting the cooperation between the film industry and the television broadcasters to strengthen German cinema . The FFA also regularly records, analyzes and publishes the most important market data for the film, cinema and video industry in Germany.

The legal basis is the Film Funding Act .


The Federal Agency levies what is known as the film tax on cinema operators, the video industry, television broadcasters and program marketers. This finances all funding measures of the FFA. The amount of the film fee for cinema operators is based on the annual net ticket sales. It amounts to between 1.8 and 3% of the annual turnover for every cinema theater that has a turnover of more than 75,000 euros and for video program providers (including video on demand) between 1.8% and 2.3% of the annual net turnover. The public television broadcasters pay 2.5% of the expenses for films shown in the previous year. For private television broadcasters, the film tax is between 0.15 and 0.95 percent and is based on the proportion of cinema films in the total broadcast time. In 2018, the FFA had a budget of 78.7 million euros. Until the Sixth Amendment to the Film Funding Act came into force, so-called film-television agreements were concluded between television broadcasters and the FFA. The contracts, concluded since 1974 for a period of mostly five years, stipulated the amounts that the television companies made available. In 2013, this was 8.04 million euros from the public broadcasters ARD and ZDF and almost 4 million euros from the private broadcasters. The aim of this money is to support films that are suitable for both cinema and television broadcasting. ARD and ZDF provided 11 million euros per year for project film funding, the use of which is decided by the FFA's award committee, and 4.6 million euros per year directly for co-productions. In this case, the specific production plans were negotiated between the respective television company and the producer. They are free to choose which co-productions they participate in. Details of the drafting of the contract are not specified in the FFG or the film-television agreement. However, the television stations generally secured the rights for TV broadcasting (see 8th film-television agreement between ARD, ZDF and FFA).


The FFA supports the production of cinema films of all genres. Funding is granted in two different ways: as part of selective project-related funding (project film funding) and automatic success-based funding (reference film funding). A producer with a company headquarters in the Federal Republic of Germany receives project film funding if he can convince the awarding committee with his script, production and marketing concept. Reference film funding is a subsequent funding for visitor, film award and festival successes.

Project film funding

Producers can apply for funding of up to one million euros for their projects. This is granted as a conditionally repayable loan. The request are u. a. Enclose the German script, list of staff and cast, shooting schedule, proof of the rights acquired, financing and calculation as well as proof of a rental agreement. These documents should comprehensively represent the cinema project as well as its implementation and evaluation. Children's film projects based on original film material are increasingly being funded by the commission. Under the chairmanship of the FFA Board of Directors, the 13 members of the FFA Award Committee assess the expected quality and profitability of the planned cinema projects and decide on the allocation of the funding. On average, the FFA receives 130 applications for project film funding each year. Over a third of the films project-funded by the FFA in recent years were international co-productions. The award committee usually decides five times a year.

Reference film funding

The FFA supports producers of successful German theatrical films through a subsequent funding - the reference film funding. A points system is used as a yardstick for awarding funding. This funding consists of grants that are not repaid, but must be used to produce or release new productions. The film's reference number of points is calculated from the number of cinema tickets sold in Germany and the success at nationally and internationally important film festivals and film awards. The reference funds are to be used primarily for a new film project. The producer can also use the funding to develop new film projects or to increase the share capital. The funds must be requested within two years of being awarded. The amount of funding per reference point depends on the number of participating films and the annual budget available. In 2014 the reference point value was 0.36 cents. FFA reference film funding is granted annually at the request of the producer, at the latest by the end of March.

Other grants

Further funding instruments of the FFA include:

  • Funding according to the Franco-German Agreement
  • Short film funding
  • Script funding
  • Distribution funding ( advance rental costs )
  • Cinema funding
  • Video funding
  • Other funding, including the digitization of German film heritage , film education (Vision Kino gGmbH), measures for market research and the fight against pirated copies.

In addition, the FFA exclusively has current and relevant market data on the cinema and video industry in Germany, which it makes available regularly and free of charge. In addition, our own studies and reports, which were commissioned or with the help of the FFA, regularly provide information about audience behavior in the cinemas and the structures and prospects of the film business.

General funding conditions

Film funding is also linked to the following conditions:

  • Films funded by the FFA must adhere to certain blocking periods. They are only allowed to be released as video or DVD 6 months after the cinema premiere. A broadcast on pay TV is allowed after 12 months and on free TV only after 18 months ( Section 53 (2) FFG).
  • The producers of a funded film must provide the Federal Republic of Germany with a technically perfect copy in the original format for archiving purposes ( Section 49 FFG).
  • Since May 2013, a condition for funding has also been the production of a barrier-free final version, i.e. a copy with German audio description and subtitles for the visually impaired and the hearing impaired ( Section 47 FFG).
  • Films may not be funded if they or the reference film violate the constitution or the law or violate moral or religious sentiments. This also applies to films that are of poor quality or that depict sexual processes or brutalities in an obtrusively coarse, speculative form (inferior quality clause, Section 46 FFG).

Organs and bodies

The organs of the Filmförderungsanstalt are the board of directors, the executive committee and the administrative board ( § 5 FFG).

The board of directors conducts the business of the film funding agency and represents it externally ( § 16 FFG). The current board member is Peter Dinges (since April 1, 2004). His deputies are Sarah Duve-Schmid and Frank Völkert.

The previous board members are:

The presidium controls the work of the board. The chairman of the administrative board is chairman of the executive committee ( Section 12 (2) FFG).

The Board of Directors decides on all fundamental issues and approves the FFA budget ( Section 8 FFG). The members of the Board of Directors are not bound by orders and instructions. It has 36 members ( Section 6 FFG).

On February 12, 2014, Bernd Neumann was elected as the new Chairman of the Administrative Board at the constituent meeting. He is also chairman of the FFA executive committee (successor to Eberhard Junkersdorf ). The board of directors elected MDR director Karola Wille as Neumann's deputy .

The members of the Board of Directors appointed by the Bundestag are currently:

According to Section 20 of the Film Funding Act, three permanent commissions have been set up:

  • the Commission for Production and Screenplay Funding,
  • the Commission for Distribution, Distribution and Video Funding and
  • the commission for cinema funding.

Their composition and tasks result from §§ 21 to 31 FFG. Until 2017, the award commission was the only statutory commission of the film funding agency ( Section 7 FFG). In particular, it decided on applications for project film funding and other funding. It consisted of a total of 13 members who are appointed by the associations of filmmakers, the broadcasters, the Bundestag and the federal government ( §§ 8 and 9 FFG). The FFA board was chairman of the award committee. The award commission has set up several sub-commissions.

History of the Film Funding Agency

Foundation and first years

As a reaction to the crisis in the German film industry since the early 1960s, the Bundestag and the federal government were considering subsidizing German film production. But it was not until December 1st, 1967 that the Bundestag passed the Film Funding Act (FFG), which u. a. the establishment of the Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA), which was actually founded on March 6, 1968. Initially, the FFG only provided reference film funding. The FFA was also supposed to buy up the TV rights for all the films it sponsored for DM 100,000 each and sell them back to the broadcasters for the same amount. At that time the license for the broadcast of a feature film cost a maximum of 60,000 DM, in the vast majority of cases not more than 40,000 DM. The television broadcasters were supposed to support German film production with the excessive amount.

This version of the FFG then also used v. a. the established film producers (old industry) and the regulation on TV rights is v. a. came about after an intensive lobbying campaign by the movie theater owners. It was heavily criticized in particular by the directors of New German Films and the FFA was boycotted. The regulation in the first version of the Film Funding Act on TV rights made it practically impossible for the young directors to receive funding at all. Because they were already working with funds from the television companies, which usually secured the TV rights for it. Therefore it could not fulfill a condition for the reference film funding and transfer these rights to the FFA. Alexander Kluge also feared that the inferior quality clause could be used to restrict the freedom of art and to exercise censorship .

The television companies criticized the fact that they had no influence on the films produced with their money and they responded by refusing to purchase the film licenses that the FFA had bought for television broadcasting. Another factor contributing to their distrust was the fact that the movie theater owners wanted to force the broadcasters to only show very few feature films and not to show any more popular series, especially on weekends (cf. Blaney 1992, p. 135ff).

The first seat of the Federal Agency was in what was then West Berlin's Eden House in Budapester Strasse 41 next to the European Center . In 2000, the company moved to Berlin-Mitte to its current headquarters on Große Praesidentstrasse.

"Little Novella" of the FFG in 1971

On August 9, 1971, the Bundestag passed some changes to the FFG (so-called small amendments). The Filmförderungsanstalt is then no longer obliged to acquire the rights for television broadcasting.

In addition, a lower quality clause was expanded and made more precise. So are u. a. Films that depict sexual occurrences "in a speculative form" are excluded from funding. Exploitation films such as Schoolgirl Report no longer have to be funded.

For the first time, films that were made with the participation of the television stations can also be recognized as reference films, but only 6 in total per year.

The deadline for the theatrical release was set at 5 years. Only then may the films funded by the FFA be shown on television. The Filmförderungsanstalt can extend the blocking times for the broadcasting of films on television for a maximum of 15 films per year by a further five years "if this is in the interests of the film industry". However, it can be shortened to two years by the Board of Directors of the FFA, although the representatives of the film industry have a right of veto.

Overall, the novella v. a. the powerful movie theater owners and distributors. They saw serious competition on television and tried to reduce the number of feature films shown on television as much as possible. They had succeeded in doing this through the provisions on theatrical exploitation, at least with regard to films funded by the FFA. In contrast to this, the interests of the directors of New German Cinema, who are closely associated with the television companies, were still insufficiently taken into account.

"Big Novella" of the FFG in 1973 and the film-television agreement

On December 13, 1973, the Bundestag passed another amendment to the Film Funding Act. In addition to reference film funding, project film funding (see above) has now also been introduced. Now all films made with the participation of the television stations can be recognized as reference films, and not just six per year. In the new Section 14b, it is even explicitly required that among the funded film projects there should be a reasonable number of those that are also suitable for broadcasting on television. The deadline for the theatrical release has also been shortened to 2 years in order to get the television companies to support co-productions. The film distributors' veto rights in this regard have been revoked.

Due to the steady decline in the number of visitors to the cinemas, the institution's income has been lower than expected by lawmakers since it was founded in 1967. There was a risk that she would not be able to fulfill the tasks described in the Film Funding Act. Therefore, according to the original government draft, the television broadcasters - similar to the cinema owners - should now pay a compulsory levy to the FFA for each film broadcast. However, ARD and ZDF strictly rejected this idea and said that this request was unconstitutional. You referred to Article 74 (11) of the Basic Law ; according to this, the federal government did not have the right to enact laws on broadcasting matters; this was solely a matter for the federal states. If such a law were to be enacted, the television companies would appeal against it at the Federal Constitutional Court.

After numerous consultations at conferences and in parliamentary committees, a compromise finally emerged, which was essentially proposed by Alexander Kluge, who spoke for the “Working Group of New German Feature Film Producers”. According to this, the television broadcasters are to participate in the feature film production much more intensively than was previously the case. However, this participation should not take the form of a film levy that is stipulated by federal law, but should be regulated in a contract between the television companies and the FFA, which stipulates that a certain amount of money is made available to an extra fund. With this money, the television companies are to participate in co-productions for cinema films, which will later also be broadcast on television.

After complicated negotiations, everyone involved finally agreed to this in 1974 and on November 4, 1974 the film and television agreement was signed by the directors of ARD, ZDF and FFA and came into force. The film television agreement was initially concluded for a period of five years. So far, follow-up agreements have repeatedly come into force after the expiry, which either updated or slightly modified its regulations. According to the first agreement, from 1975 the two public television broadcasters together provided DM 6.8 million per year for co-production projects, DM 1.0 million per year as a grant for project funding measures and DM 1.08 million per year for other funding Available.

A so-called eighth commission was formed, made up of members of the television companies and the FFA in equal parts. However, your task was only to determine whether the formal requirements for recognition of a film project as a joint production were met.

The changes to the FFG and the film-television agreement took advantage of v. a. the directors of the New German Film . They could now show their films in cinemas far more often and more easily. These distribution channels were largely closed to them until now, as they were guaranteed a theatrical release of 24 months. Up until now, the television stations had often requested a TV premiere for the films financed with their money. The distributors no longer wanted to show such films in their cinemas. They feared that the cinema would slowly become the replayer of television broadcasts.

In addition, the directors of New German Films now had more money available for their projects. In the first few years after the FFA was signed, the television companies preferred to work with them. Because they already knew each other from a long collaboration. In addition, the TV broadcasters' ideas about what ideally a film should look like largely agreed with them. Due to their conceptual content, they were able to produce films that “really come into question for both media” (Heinz Ungureit).

The television stations were also able to prevail and avoid a compulsory levy that would have encroached on their programming sovereignty. Losers were v. a. the traditional film producers ("old branch"), whose importance was no longer as great as it used to be due to the massive decline in moviegoers in the 60s and 70s.

That was also seen in the Bundestag debate on the FFG amendment. Peter Glotz , the media policy spokesman for the SPD , said that with this law the "cartel of the established film industry and right-wing social politics would be broken for the first time ."

Further development

The Film Funding Act was amended several times in the years after 1974, but the basic structure of film funding has been retained to this day. In the years after 1974, film-television agreements were repeatedly concluded. The following table shows the financial allocations of the public television channels to the FFA:

Film-television agreement between the public broadcasters and the FFA
Agreement period Total volume of payments per year in millions Joint productions in millions Project funding in millions other allocation in millions
1. Agreement

5 years 1974–1978

8.8 million DM 6.8 million DM 1.0 million DM 1.08 million DM
2. Agreement

5 years 1979–1983

15.8 million DM 10.8 million DM 3.0 million DM 2.0 million DM
3. Agreement

3 years 1984–1986

17.0 million DM 12.0 million DM 3.0 million DM 2.0 million DM
4. Agreement

3 years 1987–1989

DM 21.0 million 12.0 million DM 6.5 million DM 2.5 million DM
5. Agreement

3 years 1990–1992

23.0 million DM 13.25 million DM 7.5 million DM 2.25 million DM
6. Agreement

3 years 1993–1995

25.25 million DM 13.25 million DM 11.0 million DM 1.0 million DM
7. Agreement

3 years 1996–1998

13.33 million DM 7.33 million DM 6.0 million DM 0.0 million DM
7. Agreement

adapted by amending agreement from March 1998 5 years 1999–2003

20.0 million DM 9.0 million DM 11.0 million DM 0.0 million DM
8. Agreement

5 years 2004–2008

15.6 million euros 4.6 million euros 11.0 million euros 0.0 million euros

What is interesting about these numbers is a. The shift in the areas of funding: While the vast majority of the funds in the first agreements were used for co-productions in which the television broadcasters were directly involved, the share of grants for project funding has risen sharply since the 4th film television agreement at the latest. For the first time since the 7th Agreement, this item is even larger than the funds for co-productions. This shows an increasingly smooth collaboration between the film and television partners. Now the public broadcasters fear less that they will be supplied with films by the film producers that are unsuitable for TV broadcasting.

The private broadcasters paid the following amounts to the FFA:

Film-television agreement between the private broadcasters and the FFA
Agreement period Total volume of payments per year in millions
1. Agreement

4 years 1989–1992

4.5 million DM
2. Agreement

2 years 1994–1995

10.5 million DM
3. Agreement

3 years 1996–1998

2.1 million DM
4. Agreement

5 years 1999–2003

11.0 million DM
5. Agreement

5 years 2004–2008

12.01 million euros

The low payments in the years from 1989 to 1992 can be traced back to the relatively unsettled position of the private sector on the German television market at the time. As part of an amendment to the Film Funding Act in 1992, the German Bundestag passed a resolution in which it expressed the expectation that private television companies would conclude a film / television agreement with the film industry and thereby make a direct contribution to the FFA of at least DM 10 million in 1993 and 1994 and of at least DM 12 million annually from 1995 onwards.

The subsequent negotiations between the private television stations and the FFA were not concluded until November 22, 1994. As a result of this agreement, which was concluded for a period of two years, payments of DM 10.5 million per year were made in 1994 and 1995.

A new agreement only came about after top political talks between the Federal Minister of Economics and representatives of the private broadcasting companies. They were able to achieve considerable payment reductions, so that from 1996 to 1998 they only had to pay DM 2.1 million per year. According to the resolution of the Bundestag in 1992, the private television broadcasters had to pay a total of DM 68 million to the FFA between 1993 and 1998. In real terms, however, only DM 27.3 million were paid. The difference is DM 40.7 million.

It is only since 1999 that private television broadcasters have paid DM 11 million a year under a new agreement that is valid until 2003. The increased willingness to pay on the part of private broadcasters is probably also due to the fact that they are now interested in producing "high quality" (in terms of equipment) feature films. The license costs for broadcasting American films and series exploded in the 1990s, while at the same time domestic productions became increasingly popular with audiences.

The funds provided by the private broadcasters are largely used for project film funding and the provision of advertising time.

With the renewed change in the film Promotion Act in 2003, the budget was of 46.2 million to currently 76 million euros increased. The film tax was raised and the television stations doubled their grants. The Main Association of German Film Theaters (HDF) has brought an action against the new film funding law before the Federal Constitutional Court. Its members only pay the fee with reservations. That is why the FFA is not allowed to spend the additional funds it has received. This explains the current high discrepancy between their budget and the funding.

Judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court 2014

The United Cinemas International cinema chain sued the film levy in 2004. Since, according to the UCI, the film funding agency primarily promotes films that have no commercial potential, but the UCI mainly has American films in its program, the company no longer wants to pay any more fees to the film funding agency. The film levy of the cinemas is disproportionate to the levies of the program providers and television companies. The cinema operators not only complained against the tax mode as such, but also questioned whether this tax may even be levied. That depends on whether the federal film funding is cultural or economic funding. According to the Basic Law, cultural policy is “a matter for the federal states” and is not part of the tasks of a federal institution such as the film funding agency. After the lawsuit was dismissed in two instances, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the FFA on January 28, 2014. The film fee is constitutional.


The Federal Agency is criticized from different sides:

  • Knowledge commons and human rights groups criticized the fact that the FFA has supported the private law society for the prosecution of copyright violations (GVU) in recent years . She has attracted attention through dubious investigations and is accused of acting as an agent provocateur .
  • In the course of the negotiations on the WTO service agreement GATS , the USA questioned the European film subsidies several times since 1995 and claimed that their own film industry was seriously endangered by these subsidies, even though it also dominated the European market. So far, however, the European states and especially France have been able to prevent a general subsidy ban.
  • In 2000, the EU Commission made an attempt to limit film subsidies to 50% of production costs. After a protest from France, this plan was initially not pursued.

Web links


  • Jascha Alleyne and Lars Henrik Gass, Monument des Standstill, FAS No. 9/2018 of March 4, 2018, p. 44
  • Martin Blaney: Symbiosis or Confrontation ?, Bonn 1992
  • Eric Karstens / Jörg Schütte: Company television, Reinbek near Hamburg 1999

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Dinges, Board Member, Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA) ( Memento from September 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) In:
  2. ^ FFA - Film Funding Agency. In: Retrieved January 5, 2015 .
  3. FFA internal and FFA info / booklets only available in electronic form from issue 2/1998
  4. Humming like crazy . In: Der Spiegel . No. 42 , 1993 ( online ).
  5. FFA press release of February 12, 2014: Minister of State a. D. Bernd Neumann elected as the new chairman of the FFA administrative board , accessed on November 19, 2018
  6. Organization chart / Board of Directors. In: Retrieved November 19, 2018 .
  7. Organigram of the FFA ( Memento of the original from November 23, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. ^ Martina Düttmann: Bauwelt Berlin Annual 1999/2000. Birkhäuser Verlag AG, 2000, ISBN 978-3-764-36278-2 , p. 128. Restricted preview in the Google book search
  9. See Blaney 1992, pp. 171ff
  10. cf. Blaney 1992, p. 179 ff.
  11. cf. Blaney 1992, p. 192.
  12. cf. Karstens / Schütte: Company television 1999
  13. ^ Message from
  14. ↑ The reasons for the judgment on the website of the court , accessed on September 20, 2016
  15. Report to