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A recently made documentary, examining the effect that the cult war movie “Walter Defends Sarajevo” had on the Yugoslav pop culture of 1970s and 1980s, will have its premier in November.
|Bata Zivojinovic visiting Chinese bridge builders in Borca, Belgrade | Photo by YouTube|
The documentary „Walter: Myth, Legend, Hero“ by Andrej Acin explores the relationship between the true story of the partisan leader Vladimir Peric, and a communist era blockbuster „Walter Defends Sarajevo“ ["Valter brani Sarajevo"], the first ever action thriller made in Yugoslavia.
The aim of the documentary is to find out why did Walter have such an affect on so many aspects of the Yugoslav pop culture in 1970s and 1980s as well as in China and the countries behind the Iron Curtain.
Since its release in 1972 the movie was watched by billions of people. Owing to its immense popularity in China ‘Walter Defends Sarajevo’ became one of the most-watched war films of all time.
|Velimir 'Bata' Zivojinovic|
Zivojinovic was born in the town of Koracica, under the Mount Kosmaj. After graduating from acting schools in Uzice and Novi Sad, he enrolled at the Drama Academy in Belgrade.
The zenith of his popularity came with WW2-themed action films in the 1970s.
He starred in more than 250 movies and TV shows, significantly more than any other Yugoslavian actor. Bata played both heroes and villains and successfully switched between leading and supporting roles.
In 1990 he was elected for the Serbian Parliament, as a member of Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia.
Despite his poor health, Zivojinovic played in several movies and TV shows in past years. At the moment he is recovering from the latest brain stroke.
The movie - fictionalised account of the life of Vladimir Peric, known by his nom de guerre 'Walter', the leader of a resistance group in Sarajevo from 1943 until his death in the battle to liberate the city on April 6, 1945 – still has a cult status in the countries of former Yugoslavia - and China.
The hero of the movie was played by one of the most famous Yugoslav actors, Velimir ‘Bata’ Zivojinovic and his recollection about the making of Walter is one of the focuses of the documentary.
The 79-years old actor recalls the adulation he received in China. The year it was released in China more than 300 million people went to see it. To this day the movie is still showing on Chinese TV channels.
Children and streets in China were named after the characters from the film, and a beer brand called 'Walter' was marketed with Zivojinovic's picture on the label.
Walter Defends Sarajevo received a favourable response from the Yugoslav audience, especially in Sarajevo itself.
Although it conveyed conservative political messages and stressed the brotherhood and unity of the population in the face of foreign occupation, the film also became a cultural icon for the Yugoslav punk sub-culture
The premiere of “Walter: Myth, Legend, Hero” is expected to take place in Belgrade in November, after which it will be screened throughout the region, as well as China.
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