Cult war movie “Walter Defends Sarajevo” to be remade

The story of the WWII partisan fighter who in 1972 inspired the Yugoslav cult war movie “Walter Defends Sarajevo” will be recreated on film again, possibly in 2015, in a remake to be produced by a Chinese company, it has been announced by Bosnian, Croatian and Chinese officials involved in the project.

“This is only my second time in Sarajevo, but this city has been in my heart for 40 years,” China Star Media CEO Bing Xiang told reporters this past week.

Like millions of other Chinese, Xiang in the 1970s watched the film and it left a deep impression on him, which is why he has joined the project to remake it.

“At least a half of the 1.3 billion people in China have seen the film ‘Walter Defends Sarajevo’,” Xiang said, adding that the screening of the film was a big event in his country.

The fictionalised story of the WWII anti-fascist movement in occupied Sarajevo and the legendary leader of its resistance movement, Vladimir Peric Valter, who was killed in the final battles for the city’s liberation on 6 April 1945, is among the most watched films ever in China, and Velimir Bata Zivojinovic, who played the lead role in Hajrudin Krvavac’s movie, was one of the most popular people in China at the time.

The project, which the Chinese film-makers have joined, has actually been launched by the Croatian film production company Jadran Film, together with Film Centar from Sarajevo.

“There were many reasons (for the project). The first and main reason, aside from the values which the film promotes and which we like, is to return Bosnia and Herzegovina’s and Croatia’s film-making industries to the international film market,” said Vinko Grubisic of Jadran Film.

Actors who will play in the remake will be from Bosnia and Herzegovina and its director will be from China. China Star Media and Hong Kong Satellite TV International Media Group will invest at least seven million euros in the project.

One of Sarajevo’s legends will come back to life on film at a time when signs that he once existed are scarce in the Bosnian capital. Only one street bears his name, a primary school that once had the name “Vladimir Peric Valter” was renamed in 1996, and a memorial plaque put in the place where he was killed is barely visible today, hidden by the chairs and sunblinds of a local cafe.(TSN)