World Cinema Fund

Nov 25, 2019
The Berlinale World Cinema Fund Celebrates Its 15th Anniversary and Announces Newest Funding Selections

The World Cinema Fund (WCF) looks back on 15 years of successful film funding. Since its founding, funding has gone to 232 film projects.
Founded in 2004, the initiative’s aim is to promote the development of world cinema, to enrich the cinematic landscape in Germany, and to encourage international exchange with its cooperation framework. The German Commission for UNESCO welcomed the foundation of the World Cinema Fund as a solid contribution towards strengthening cultural diversity, and served as patron of the WCF during its early stages.
Areas eligible for WCF funding are Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, the Caucasus, and the individual countries Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Cooperations between production companies from the WCF regions/countries and German/European production companies will be funded. Funds must be spent in the funding areas, and the director of the film must come from a funding area.

“Looking back, founding the World Cinema Fund together with the Berlinale was a great decision. At the time, it was not foreseeable that this internationally praised initiative would set totally new standards in film funding outside Europe. We made a bold decision and it paid off. The many invitations to international film festivals received by WCF funded filmmakers are a compelling testament to the quality of their work. The WCF has become a success story for global cooperation amongst filmmakers, producers and distributors, and it benefits German cinema as well,” comments Hortensia Völckers, artistic director of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, who established the WCF together with the Berlinale in 2004.
Mariette Rissenbeek, Executive Director of the Berlinale, adds: “The Berlinale is a film festival that actively supports cooperative projects and networks in the international film industry. In the past 15 years, the WCF and its innovative funding structures have supported great films and simultaneously opened up economic perspectives for filmmakers in numerous regions. We would like to thank our partners - the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the German Federal Foreign Office and the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme - for their committed support.”

All films funded by the WCF to date have screened in cinemas and/or at noted international film festivals, and demonstrate the initiative’s worldwide success. In addition, the WCF has backed the cinematic release of other funding area films that transmit outstanding and unique artistic styles and strong narratives. The films are also the product of a funding programme that works actively to democratise international co-production relations, and which, as a European funding initiative, is aware of postcolonial heritage.

Vincenzo Bugno, head of the World Cinema Fund: “The number of project submissions has more than doubled in recent years. We are increasingly reaching unique filmmakers who work on the creation of daring projects - both artistically and in terms of content - and give visibility to the cultural complexity of the world. They consistently find astonishing film languages for this. After 15 years, we’re very pleased that all of the films funded by the WCF to date were produced and have been successful.”

Expansion of the Funding Programme

Since its founding in 2004, the WCF has evolved and has established two other special programmes in addition to the standard WCF funding:

In 2015 and in cooperation with the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme of the European Union, the WCF expanded its funding with the special programme WCF Europe, which supports co-productions between European producers and directors, and producers from WCF funding areas.

Thanks to additional funding by the German Federal Foreign Office, WCF Africa launched in 2016, which makes submissions from Sub-Saharan Africa automatically eligible for funding from WCF Africa as well.

Achievements to Date

The first WCF jury selections in 2005 brought the initiative’s first international successes: Paradise Now by Hany Abu-Assad won several awards worldwide, including a Golden Globe, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Further WCF achievements include Uncle Boonmee by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, which received the Palme d’Or in 2010; the recipient of the 2009 Golden Bear, La Teta Asustada (Peru) by Claudia Llosa; the Israeli film Ajami by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; Stellet Licht (Mexico, dir.: Carlos Reygadas), which won the 2007 Jury Award in Cannes; Félicité, by Senegalese-French director Alain Gomis, which won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Berlinale; the Kenyan film Rafiki (dir.: Wanuri Kahiu), which received worldwide acclaim in 2018; Las herederas by Paraguayan director Marcelo Martinessi, which received two Silver Bears in 2018, and many more.
The WCF’s most recent effects success stories include Talking About Trees (Sudan) by Suhaib Gasmelbari, which received the Glashütte Original - Documentary Award and the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlinale in 2019; and You Will Die at Twenty (Sudan) by Amjad Abu Alala, which won Best Debut Film at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.

November 2019 - Ten New Funding Recommendations

The WCF jury meets twice annually. At the most recent meeting in November 2019, five film projects from Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and the Philippines were selected for production funding. In the additional funding programme WCF Europe, two production funding recommendations went to projects from Cuba and Vietnam. Two projects were also nominated for funding by the special programme WCF Africa: one project from Niger and one from Tanzania/South Africa.

One project was selected for distribution funding. The Turkish film A Tale of Three Sisters (Kız Kardeşler) by Emin Alper will receive distribution support for its cinematic release in Germany.

Information on the current funding recommendations from the 31st WCF jury meeting are available here.

The World Cinema Fund is an initiative of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Berlin International Film Festival, in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office and with further support by the Goethe-Institut.

The special programme WCF Europe was created thanks to support by the Creative Europe - MEDIA Programme of the European Union, and the special programme WCF Africa was initiated in 2016 thanks to additional funding by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Press Office
November 25, 2019