German cinema, in its widest sense what the Germans call Filmkultur (film culture), illustrates many aspects of Germany's history, culture, commerce, and politics over more than a hundred years. Any account of world film-making must acknowledge the range of the German cinema's technical and aesthetic innovation, its difficult yet fascinating evolution, and the influence of its leading figures and works. Today it operates in a mediascape extending to European and global perspectives, and integrates into a converging network of production and consumption.
One index of German cinema's identity is public funding. At the national level, support is channeled by Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA, Federal Film Subsidy Institute) in Berlin; from Munich, the capital of the state of Bavaria, the Export Union promotes its image and sales abroad. Cinema as a cultural export is one of the functions of the Goethe-Institut München, combined with the Inter Nationes Bonn, in the state of Northrhine-Westphalia. All sixteen federal states, and many regional authorities, support film and media exhibition, education, training, and production by maintaining museums, archives, and municipal theaters, like the Stiftung Deutscher Kinemathek in Berlin or the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt/Main, or by offering prizes, grants, and loans to filmmakers. Such complex networks of support and subsidy are also key elements in economic planning aimed at replacing failing industries, like steelmaking and mining, with expertise in media technology and production. For German Filmkultur , Berlin and Munich still dominate, but centers in the Rhineland cities of Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Karlruhe and in the North German port of Hamburg have arisen to challenge them.