WWII Resistance Hero Immortalized in Iconic Film gets Museum in Sarajevo
During the recent Sarajevo Film Festival (sff.ba) Bosnian Film Center announced plans for a new Museum dedicated to the legendary film about the WWII resistance hero, Vladimir Peric, popularly known by his undercover name Walter. He was killed in the final battle for Sarajevo against the Nazi occupying forces in April 1945.
There is a unique cinematic connection to Walter. Quarter century ago Bosnian and Yugoslav director Hajrudin “Siba” Krvavac made the iconic film Walter defends Sarajevo, the third in his trilogy of WWII movies about partisan resistance fighters. Walter has since gained a cult status even in China (“Some 1.3 billion people now live in China and half of them have seen Walter Defends Sarajevo,”) as well as a reference point for defiant Sarajevans during the siege of the city in the 1990s. The closing line of the film, spoken by a Nazi officer looking down on the city from the hillside vintage point, “Das ist Walter,” (“This is Walter”) has become the defining moment to characterize Sarajevo as the city that will always stand tall in face of aggression and injustice.
Jasmin Durakovic, filmmaker and director of the Bosnian Film Center was joined by Alen Cengic, owner of the Park of the Princes restaurant where the press conference about the Museum was held – at the very spot where the iconic ending of the film took place. “Walter Defends Sarajevo has attained the status of a cult achievement of our cinema,” said Durakovic. “This film is one of the few widely recognized and uniquely Sarajevan reference points which is why the Sarajevo Film Center has decided to create the Museum dedicated to the film.”
The Walter Museum is expected to be completed in two months and will be located in the Film Center’s building (former Sutjeska Film Studio) in downtown Sarajevo. On the site of Park of the Princes restaurant overlooking the city a giant mural backdrop commemorates some of the scenes from the film – with Chinese subtitles. Even before the media event was over groups of Chinese tourists flocked to the site and started taking photographs. Young couples with children instantly recognized the imagery from the beloved film of their parents’ generation and enthusiastically confirmed that Walter still holds his immortal cinematic place in the hearts of the Chinese people. Bathed in the afternoon light the city of Sarajevo was lying below, its spirited citizenry in the party mood for the film festival. Yet quiet echoes of the legendary film live on in Sarajevo where one line of a movie dialogue forever defined its unconquered spirit. After all this is not an ordinary city. Das ist Walter.
Hajrudin “Siba” Krvavac (1926 – 1992) is best known for his hugely popular trilogy of war movies about WWII partisans whose heroic resistance became the stuff of legends: The Demolition Squad (Diverzanti, 1967), The Bridge (Most, 1969) and Walter Defends Sarajevo (Valter brani Sarajevo, 1972). Krvavac was also a well known documentary director. He was among the internationally acclaimed Bosnian filmmakers whose movies made the name of the production company Sutjeska Film Sarajevo known well beyond the country’s borders. He died in July 1992 during the Siege of Sarajevo. “However, Krvavac lived long enough to see the people of Sarajevo in 1992 chant, “We Are Walter!” in protest of the conflict.” (wiki)