News 29 Jan 18

Maverick Reporter’s Tale Becomes Sarajevo Siege Film

A new Bosnian war drama called ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, based on the memoirs of Paul Marchand, a flamboyant French journalist who reported from besieged Sarajevo, starts filming next month.

Mladen Lakic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Amra Baksic Camo, producer of the film. Photo courtesy of Amra Baksic Camo.

The filming of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, based on French reporter Paul Marchand’s book describing his experiences in wartime Bosnia and Herzegovina, will start in February this year.

“Marchand was reporting from Sarajevo under the siege during 1992 to 1993 and he published a book of the same name as the movie that we will start filming,” Amra Baksic Camo, the producer of the film at Bosnian film and TV company Pro.ba, told BIRN.

Reports from the early 1990s describe Marchand - who committed suicide in 2009 at the age of 47 - as a cigar-smoking maverick who preferred a straw hat to a protective safety helmet.

“Don’t shoot, waste your bullets. I am immortal,” said the warning message to gunmen that he put on his car, the New York Times wrote in 1992.

“Marchand was risking his life, driving his car, trying to avoid sniper fire in Sarajevo, while the well-known song ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ was playing,” Baksic Camo said, explaining how Marchand’s book and the film got their title.

The 1,425-day siege of Sarajevo from April 5, 1992, to February 29, 1996 was longest of a capital city in recent history.

The film is a French-Canadian-Belgian co-production with the participation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and will be shot in Sarajevo.

“We will be filming all over Sarajevo in different but authentic locations that we will provide, even though Sarajevo is different now than back in wartime years,” Baksic Camo said.

Niels Schneider, who won a French Cesar award for most promising actor in 2016 for his role in ‘Dark Inclusion’, will play Marchand.

Sarajevo officials will support the shoot by providing free access, but the general outlook for the film industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not bright, Baksic Camo said.

“In 2017 in Bosnia we did not have any feature-length film,” she explained.

Some countries in the Balkans, such as Montenegro, entice international film crews by offering tax refunds, but Bosnia does not.

Bosnia’s culture budget is small, so most of the country’s film producers focus on foreign-backed projects and grants from international organisations.

However Baksic Camo is convinced that Bosnia has a lot to offer in cinematic terms.

“Authentic locations all over the country are something that we can offer,” she said.

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