Film und Medien Stiftung NRWNewsNewsFilm- und Medienstiftung NRW continues pursuing successful innovative strategy

Film- und Medienstiftung NRW continues pursuing successful innovative strategy

Annual review for 2014

    • 36.1 m Euros for 429 projects, of which 130 film projects were backed with 29.5 m Euros
    • 3.9 m Euros for 51 documentaries, 6 m Euros for newcomers in film and media
    • 1.1 m Euros for innovative content, games, apps, web content and TV formats
    • Awarding of the first Wim Wenders Scholarship with the Düsseldorf-based Wim Wenders Foundation
    • Launch of Europe’s first funding programme for the development of web videos
    • „The Physician" and „Stromberg" the most successful NRW feature films in 2014
    • „Weinberg" receives the first production funding for a horizontally narrated series
    • 29 NRW-funded films at the Berlinale, incl. two Competition films
    • Partner of the „Drama Series Days" at the Berlinale’s European Film Market
    • Golden Honorary Bear and homage on the occasion of Wim Wenders' 70th birthday

© Heike Herbertz / Film- und Medienstiftung NRW

The Film- und Medienstiftung NRW successfully continued pursuing its innovative strategy in 2014. In the fourth year after the re-orientation, the necessary structures are now established and all the instruments in place for facilitatinmg a forward-looking development of the region. On behalf of its shareholders WDR, the Land of NRW, ZDF, RTL and LfM and in close association with its subsidiaries, the Film- und Medienstiftung operates as a reliable funding partner for film and media professionals, and as a source of inspiration  and driver of innovation in the film and media hub of NRW.

Film, television, games, web, crossmedia content – the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW has widened the audiovisual field, expanded its innovative funding instruments, and invested in the networking, presentation and marketing of those media industries which define the region. This also includes having a presence at festivals and trade fairs as well as the development of interactive content and young TV formats, Europe’s first bursary for web video-makers and the Wim Wenders Scholarship for innovative film-making.

„Our duty is to be at the forefront where there is new thinking and creativity,¨ says Petra Müller, CEO of the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW. „The Filmstiftung plays a key role when the Film Autumn gathers exhibitors and film-makers together from all over NRW for the first time, the digital scene meets at gamescom, dmexco and the Web Video Prize, or when the Berlinale opens up to TV series. The fact that we also meet these requirements in our film funding activities is shown by our great commitment for cinema and the next generation, the theatrical successes of ‚The Physician‘ and ‚Stromberg‘ and, not least of all, by the global festival presence of NRW-backed arthouse productions."

In 2014, the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW backed 429 projects and project development activities with around 36.1 m Euros in film, TV, cinema, radio plays and the new media, and thus remained Germany’s financially strongest regional funder thanks to its shareholders, the Land of NRW, WDR, ZDF, RTL and the LfM.

Cinema and TV production alone saw 130 film projects being supported with 29.5m Euros, thereby generating a NRW effect of over 200%. Economic effects – in particular, for the local services industry in the region – were generated to the tune of over 60 m Euros, while NRW’s film culture was likewise supported on a sustainable basis

In total, 12.9 m Euros were invested in international co-productions, and around 6 m Euros went to supporting newcomer projects, debuts and the redesigned funding for graduation films. 3.9 m Euros were channelled into the funding of documentaries, a focus of North Rhine-Westphalian film-making, and 1.5 m Euros flowed into innovative content, TV formats, and location marketing.

The Film- und Medienstiftung provided 2 m Euros to 11 TV projects, including backing for „Weinberg" by Till Franzen which was the first case of support for a horizontally narrated and ambitious series (600,000 Euros), which was completely developed and produced in NRW. The Filmstiftung NRW will be a partner at the European Film Market of this year’s Berlinale (5.-15.2.) for the „Drama Series Days", thereby supporting a newly created platform for the presentation and distribution of high-quality series content.

Moreover, the Creative Europe Programme supported the film and media industry in NRW with a further 1.3 m Euros (961,697 Euros MEDIA funding, 341,500 Euros Europa Cinemas) Together with the federal state’s funding for cinema digitisation, the Media Forum and the scholarships for the media start-ups centre  etc., around 39 m Euros were made available for the development of NRW’s film and media hub.

The most successful films in the cinemas during 2014 were „The Physician" (a total of 3.5 m admissions since its release), „Stromberg" (1.3 m ), „Not My Day" (670,000), „Pettsson and Findus" (616,000) and „Vampire Sisters 2" (613,000). The arthouse charts were headed up by Dominik Graf’s „Beloved Sisters" with 251,000 admissions, Lars von Trier’s „Nymphomaniac 1" with 147,000 admissions and „Only Lovers Left Alive" with a total 173,000 admissions.

Around 70 NRW-backed films were invited to the main international film festivals; films receiving awards included „A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence“ with the „Golden Lion" of Venice, and the International Emmy in New York for „Generation War". The documentary „Beltracchi – The Art of Forgery" was named Best Documentary at the German Film Awards.

2015 has already begun promisingly with 29 films at the Berlinale, including two NRW-funded international co-productions in the Competition („Sworn Virgin" and „Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories"), numerous documentaries and newcomer films as well as Margarethe von Trotta’s „This Misplaced World" (Berlinale Special), which was made in large part in NRW. In addition, the Berlinale will be honouring Wim Wenders on the occasion of his 70th birthday with the Golden Honorary Bear and paying tribute to him with an homage.

„We are now keenly looking forward to the forthcoming Berlinale and especially to Wim Wenders and his films. After this great start to the year, we are confident that the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW can successfully continue following this chosen path in 2015, thereby giving further important stimulus for the development of the film and media hub in North Rhine-Westphalia", Petra Müller concluded.

Further information at






Film- und Medienstiftung NRW – 2014 at a glance 

Feature Film

Successful with Physician and Stromberg, family entertainment and comedies

  • The Physician“ by Ufa Fiction reached a total 3.5 m admissions as a historical adaptation by Philipp Stölzl with Stellan Skarsgård, Tom Payne, Sir Ben Kingsley and Elyas M’Barek in the lead roles. The TV airing was seen by over 7.5 m viewers at the end of December 2014.
  • February not only saw one of the year’s most successful films coming into the cinemas with the release of „Stromberg – Der Film“ – this was also the first feature film from Cologne’s Brainpool and a textbook example for successful crowdfunding (1 m Euros). The comedy by director Arne Feldhusen and author Ralf Husmann was shot completely in NRW and supported substantially by the Filmstiftung NRW. „Stromberg“ took the No. 2 position in the national box-office Top Ten with over 1.2 m admissions. It is already speculated that there will be a sequel.
  • Peter Thorwarth’s comedy „Not My Day“ was seen by around 670,000 cinema-goers, the partly animated children’s film „Pettsson and Findus“ by 616,000. The Cologne-based director Wolfgang Groos attracted over 600,000 cinema-goers with „Vampire Sisters 2“. The second part of the „jewel“ series, „Sapphire Blue“ (545,000 admissions) by Katharina Schöde and Felix Fuchssteiner, continued the successful run of this franchise.
  • Ms Mueller Must Go“ by Sönke Wortmann has been in the cinemas since January 15 and is now at pole position in the arthouse charts. The next promising family films are already on the starting blocks, including Tobi Baumann’s adaptation of  Cornelia Funke’s „Ghosthunters“ with Anke Engelke (theatrical release: 2.4.), and Sven Unterwaldt’s „Hilfe, ich habe meine Lehrerin geschrumpft“. This spring will see the release of „Mara und der Feuerbringer“ by Tommy Krappweis (2.4.). „Halbe Brüder“ by Christian Alvart with Fahri Yardim, Paul „Sido“ Würdig and Tedros Teclebrhan will  open on 19.3. as a comedy with box-office potential, while „Macho Man“ by Christof Wahl with Christian Ulmen and Aylin Tezel will come to German cinemas in October.
  • In addition, new players appeared on the scene: in 2014, Beta Cinema launched its subsidiaries Seapoint and Bantry Bay, and has just announced that it is to locate a subsidiary of Dreamtool in Cologne. After the hit production „Rush“, action concept was back shooting for the cinema in 2014: „Autobahn“ and „Boy 7“ with Emilia Schüle and David Kross (theatrical release: 6.8.).

Ambitious: International co-productions with Hopkins, Kingsley and Hanks,
German arthouse with Schilling, Hüller and Sukowa

  • Dominik Graf’s „Beloved Sisters“ garnered success in the arthouse charts with 251,000 admissions, with Lars von Trier’s „Nymphomaniac 1“ posting 147,000 admissions and „Only Lovers Left Alive“ by Jim Jarmusch 173,000 admissions . There was also a good theatrical opening for the Venice winner „A Pigeon Sat on  a Branch Reflecting on Existence“ by Roy Andersson, which made a direct entry  at No. 2 in the arthouse charts and has since attracted over 75,000 cinema-goers.
  • Last summer saw Oskar Roehler shooting his drama „Tod den Hippies – Es lebe der Punk!“ with Tom Schilling, Wilson Gonzalez Ochsenknecht and Emilia Schüle. „The Misplaced World“ was directed by Margarethe von Trotta with Barbara Sukowa, Katja Riemann and Karin Dor.
  • Maren Ade shot „Toni Erdmann“ with Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller, Lars Kraume the historic drama about the public prosecutor Fritz Bauer „Die Heimatlosen“ with Burghart Klaußner, Jörg Schüttauf and Ronald Zehrfeld, and Gordian Maugg worked on his docu-drama „Fritz Lang – Der Andere in uns“ with Heino Ferch, Samuel Finzi and Thomas Thieme.
  • Last May saw production roll in Cologne on the international high-speed action thriller „Autobahn“ by Eran Creevy with Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones and the Oscar winners Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Ben Kingsley. Tom Tykwer’s literary adaptation „A Hologram For The King“ with Tom Hanks was shot in Düsseldorf, and the Golden Bear-winner Semih Kaplanoglu came to Germany in December for his film „Grain“, shooting with Jean-Marc Barr in Cologne, Wuppertal, Essen, Bonn, Bochum and Duisburg, among other places.
  • The Filmstiftung NRW had success two years running at the Venice Film Festival: after the Jury Special  Prize for Philip Gröning’s „The Police Officer’s Wife “ in 2013, last year saw Roy Andersson win the Golden Lion with „A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence“.

Television: events, formats and series

  • 11 TV projects were supported in 2014 with over 2 m Euros (5,5% of the total funding budget).
  • The Filmstiftung allocated support to „Weinberg“ by Till Franzen, , which was produced and developed completely in NRW, in its first funding decision for a horizontally narrated, ambitious series (600,000 Euros). The Cologne-based authors Arne Nolting and Jan Martin Scharf wrote the script for the production with Friedrich Mücke in the lead. The series is currently shooting for TNT.
  • intensively with both subjects since 2011 and supports the development and production of series: the Filmstiftung NRW will be a partner at the European Film Market of this year’s Berlinale (5.-15.2.) for the „Drama Series Days“ to support a newly established platform for the presentation and distribution of quality series content. The initiative can already be regarded as a great success since an impressive line-up of players and the latest international series projects have agreed to participate.
  • 10 projects could be supported with a total 380,400 Euros through the funding programme for innovative TV formats. In 2014, the focus was on development projects for fiction series formats, sitcoms and comedy. This was accompanied in June by the Entertainment Master Class in Cologne where the participants were given insights into „Developing Formats“, i.e. all aspects of developing formats from the initial idea to marketing, and this year will see the ifs become one of the first German film schools to launch a Bachelor course in „Serial Storytelling“.
  • Event movies in 2014: Carlo Rola’s RTL event movie „Götz von Berlichingen“ with Henning Baum in the lead was seen by almost 4 m viewers. 3.33 m viewers tuned in to Erica von Moeller’s „Sternstunden ihres Lebens“ with Iris Berben, and 3.11 m viewers saw Hans Steinbichler’s „Landauer“. Miguel Alexandre’s „Witwenmacher“ about the Starfighter affair has just wrapped production. The most successful „TV film“ was, in fact, a feature film: „The Physician“.
  • Funded by NRW and shot extensively here, Philipp Kadelbach’s three-parter ¨Generation War¨was in the news again. The production was awarded the International Emmy in the Best TV Movie/Mini-Series category at the Emmy World Television Festival in New York. NRW (Land, LfM and Filmstiftung) is here each year with a delegation and also attends the MIPTV and MIPCOM trade fairs in Cannes.
  • Young entertainment from the online video stronghold
  • Clicks and likes are the currency of online entertainment whose stars like Y-titty with around 3 million subscribers are currently based in Cologne.
  • More than 15,000 Youtubers then met up at the VideoDays in Cologne’s Lanxess Arena, and Düsseldorf is the headquarters for the European Web Video Academy which has been presenting the German Web Video Prize since 2011.
  • The Film- und Medienstiftung NRW supports this young and dynamic scene with its funding programme, primarily with the Web Video Bursary (100,000 Euros for 11 bursaries) which was awarded for the first time at the end of 2014 together with the Academy. Furthermore, it cooperates with the Mediencluster NRW in organising matchmaking at the gamescom and dmexco events as well as the so-called ¨Moving Images Stammtisch¨ which is held alternately in Cologne and Düsseldorf.

Games: 1 m more for the developers at Germany’s leading games hub

  • It was clear by last year’s gamescom (335,000 visitors that games are the hit format of the digital era and NRW is one of the most important centres for games in Europe. The Film- und Medienstiftung has consequently joined forces with the Mediencluster and the Creative Europe Desk NRW to present NRW as a media region, hosting a get-together and international matchmaking for the industry. The fair was complemented by such professional events as the gamescom conference, the GDC Europe or the developers' meeting Respawn, while December saw the industry gather in Dortmund’s U for the 5th Next Level Conference.
  • Other good news for the region in 2014: Daedalic and Innogames as two of Germany’s most renowned game developers announced that they are planning to re-locate to NRW. Moreover, the Fachhochschule in Cologne will be launching a Bachelor course of studies in the Cologne Game lab. And the newly launched regional competition CreateMedia.NRW, which is explicitly aimed at games companies, has received a budget of 40 m Euros for six years until 2020.
  • he funding programme for the development of innovative audiovisual content – established in 2011 – had its budget boosted to 1 m Euros in 2014. As a consequence, 789,000 Euros could be allocated in 2014 for 12 projects and the German Developer Prize was expanded. Moreover, the Mediencluster launched the Gametreff NRW in Düsseldorf last autumn.
  • 2015 also sees participation being planned at the SXSW-South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and at the GDC-Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
  • Newcomers, startups: future made in NRW
  • In total, the Film- und Medienstiftung supported newcomers from NRW with around 6 m Euros in 2014 (16% of the total funding budget). Among other things, it backed 19 debuts or newcomer projects and 17 graduation films within the framework of the restructured funding programme for graduation films.
  • Seven projects with a total sum of 98,000 Euros were supported in August by the awarding of the 13th Gerd Ruge Bursary for documentary film-makers. The next Gerd Ruge Bursary will be awarded again this summer.
  • Last June saw the announcement of the first four recipients of the new Wim Wenders Scholarship with a total 95,000 Euros for the development of innovative film ideas by young film-makers.
  • The Film- und Medienstiftung joined forces with the European Web Video Academy in 2014 to launch Europe’s first internationally recognised Funding Programme for Web Video-Makers. The first 11 recipients include such young talents as Tarik Tesfu, who addresses gender issues, or Claire Steka, who wants to help pupils of German to learn the language with the aid of an animation series.
  • From 2006 to 2014, the Mediengründerzentrum was able to award 110 grants financed from federal state funds. Another 12 have recently been accepted into the programme for 2015. The majority of the grant-holders – who now come from all of the audiovisual sectors – continues to be active in the market.
  • In 2014, the Mediengründerzentrum graduates Weydemann Bros. had the good fortune to receive a Berlinale invtation and the First Steps Award for the funded film „Los Ángeles“ by  Damian John Harper. ifs graduate  Levin Hübner won the Audience Award at the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival for „Alter Egon“, and this year’s edition sees Sebastian Ko’s directorial debut „Wir Monster“ screening in Competition (Prod: Cologne’s Esther Reglin Film).
  • The Incubators „Startplatz“, „Clusterhaus“, „Solution Space“ from Cologne or „Engage NRW“ in Mülheim a.d.R. provided young start-ups in NRW with advice, knowhow, jobs and a strong network.
  • Numerous events were held in 2014 for the start-up scene in NRW, including the Start-up Weekend or the Pirate Summit. The Film- und Medienstiftung and the Mediencluster, respectively, intensified their start-up activities and were consequently partners of the King Content Day at Startplatz Köln. In spring 2015, they will organise the Advance Coaching Day for young companies in the digital media industry.

Media Forum, Film Autumn, festivals, conferences, industry gatherings 

  • Next Level Medienforum: last May saw the 26th Media Forum NRW organised under the auspices of the Filmstiftung and managed by the Mediencluster in close cooperation for the first time with the conference of the ANGA COM, Interactive Cologne and the German Web Video Prize. Media policy, platforms and networks, new television, publishing houses and entertainment were the central issues to be discussed for around 2,000 visitors. The Interactive Cologne presented around 120 events in Cologne and Düsseldorf with participants from the media, creative and digital industries. The Emmy Semi-Final Judgings and the Entertainment Masterclass also took place in Cologne. In June, the industry came together at the Film Party in Cologne’s Wolkenburg.
  • Last summer, the 17th Filmschauplätze attracted around 9,000 visitors with 17 films at 17 extraordinary venues throughout NRW.
  • The Film Autumn NRW gathered the whole cinema and film scene at numerous events throughout NRW: from audience events like the 25th Kinofest Lünen, NRW Cinema Day, CineCologne, Duisburg Film Week and the International Women’s Film Festival Dortmund|Cologne to film professional events like Filmplus, SoundTrack_Cologne.

    The highlight was the awarding of the NRW Cinema Programming Prizes with around 400 guests in Cologne’s Gloria Theater. Shooting Star and comedy icon Carolin Kebekus hosted the awards ceremony which also included the presentation of the Herbert Strate Prize to the producer, director and actor Til Schweiger. The Film and Cinema Conference NRW again discussed the future of cinema and film in the digital age. At the same time, the Filmstiftung expanded its involvement in the NRW Cinema Day and launched the „Made in NRW“ programme with premieres and film discussions.The EAVE producers initiative with the European Producers Workshop was held in Cologne as part of the Film Autumn. 49 producers from 28 countries met with some 61 experts to discuss the financing and distribution potential of their feature film and documentary projects.
  • The Film- und Medienstiftung supported the whole spectrum of initiatives and activities throughout NRW’s film and media region, 44 festivals, special measures and film presentations with 536,200 Euros

Associated companies

  • A Master’s in Serial Storytelling was introduced at the ifs from the Winter Term 2013/2014. As from the Winter Term 2015/2016, the students will also receive support from commissioning editors, producers and head writers at RTL. The move to new premises in Schanzenstraße was decided with support provided by the Land of NRW. The Cologne Game Lab (CGL), Institute for Game Development and Research at the Fachhochschule Cologne, will also reside in Schanzenstraße.
  • The renamed Mediengründerzentrum (MGZ) works in various media; another 10 grants could be allocated, meaning that 110 alumni are now active in the market. The grants for 2015 have already been awarded to 12 young start-ups.
  • Anastasia Ziegler is the new managing director of the Mediencluster NRW, was already responsible in 2014 for the new orientation of the Media Forum 2014 and the presence at the gamescom and dmexco fairs, and has intensified networking activities in the digital scene.
  • Frauke Gerlach has been the new managing director of the Grimme Institute since 2014 and has now founded the new Cologne-based non-profit "Grimme Research Unit – Media and Society in the Digital Age" in cooperation with the Univerity of Cologne. The research unit will address current questions of digital communications culture.
  • Last but not least, the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW is a shareholder Of German Films. Peter Herrmann (Desert Flower) was elected this week as the new Chairman of the Supervisory Board. 

The company

The Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, founded in 1991, supports the North Rhine-Westphalian film and media culture and the film and media industry and is Germany’s financially strongest regional film funder with an annual budget of 35 m Euros. The shareholders are WDR and the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia, ZDF, RTL and the media watchdog LfM.

The Film- und Medienstiftung has had a new supervisory board chairman since spring 2014 following the appointment of Werner Schwaderlapp. Jörg Schönenborn (WDR) succeeded Verena Kulenkampff as a new member of the supervisory board.

The Film- und Medienstiftung NRW supports films for cinema and television from story and project development through production to distribution and sales. In addition, it awards funding for the development of radio plays, innovative TV formats and innovative audiovisual content (games, apps, etc,) as well as web­videos. As an integrated funding institution, its portfolio also includes location marketing and development.  As a consequence, the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW is a central contact point for media in NRW. In its responsibility for the film and media region, it also has shareholdings in numerous associated companies, e.g. in the ifs international film school cologne, the Mediengründerzentrum, Grimme Institute, German Films and the Mediencluster NRW.