“Nothing New in the West” received four Oscars – and not a cent of German film funding. Sure, you could say: Then we'll transfer the money to Til Schweiger's account straight away. Such successful producers and directors get tax money for films that promise millions in profits - one can be very surprised about that. And if so, why don't they have to pay back the funding?
But films bring money into the box office long before they hit the cinemas. The productions create jobs, in the studios, but also in logistics and technology companies, in gastronomy. Babelsberg is a prosperous community – because films are shot there. And financing with private money alone is almost impossible, even if Schweighöfer or Schweiger are producing.
Film funding is targeted economic development. And that makes no less sense than providing police forces to keep rowdy fans in check at Bundesliga games played by clubs worth millions.
Peter Huth hasn't seen a Til Schweiger film since The Moved Man.
What speaks in favor of film funding? First, everyone else is doing it too. Secondly, jobs in the German film industry are preserved by promoting bad films. Thirdly, filmmakers always spend more than they receive in funding, which benefits the economy in the funding state.
All three arguments also speak against the funding. First, a subsidy race is nonsense. Taxpayers are the losers, producers are the winners. Secondly, Liechtenstein could then also subsidize the construction of its own moon rocket. Rocket builders also want to live. Thirdly, the federal states could give every tourist 20 euros: That is faster in the local economy than film funding, and you save on paperwork.
If German filmmakers were to make films that the public wanted to see, they would get money from the banks. But the banks don't fund rocket builders that never reach the moon, or filmmakers that never wow audiences.
The author has a Netflix subscription.