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Stille Sehnsucht - Warchild
ein Film von Christian Wagner

balkan blues trilogy


Questions to Christian Wagner, Director of “Warchild”


The first part of the Balkan Blues Trilogy was a short film. Now you continue with a feature film. Why did you choose to quit the short length and move to a feature film in order to tell this particular story?

I want to attract the audience and shorts are not really seen, they do not have a market besides Festivals, like in the case of ZITA. We had of course the nicest Festivals in the world like Clermond Ferrant, Los Angeles, Chicago, Buenes Aires just to mention a few. And the World Premiere happened to be at Torino International Film Festival, where we were awarded with a special jury prize.

The film is based on a true story. Did you do any research on the people who actually experienced the story you tell?

 "WARCHILD" tells an authentic “search” story, and also addresses issues such as: the responsibility of parents (biological or adoptive) toward their children; and the long-term effects of war. Edin Hadzimahovic researched and did in fact find such cases in Sarajevo. With the outbreak of the war in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the fate of refugees came closer to home:  people fled to Europe – almost three million in four years. They found protection in Germany and many other European countries.  Most of them still have not returned home. And some children are adopted while their parents are not allowed to see them until their kids are of age.

How long did you work on the preparations of WARCHILD?

We decided in 2002 to write for the screen and not for TV. It always takes me more or less 5 years of my life because I am producer and director.

In your two previous cinema feature films, “Waller’s last trip” and “Transatlantis”, you were also the scriptwriter. Why did you decide not to write the script for this film too?

I am a filmmaker and I did all kind of constellations in the process of filmmaking and in our case because it was basically Edins idea. He dreamt from long time to tell this emotional story about his country. But in ALCATRASH I will be again my own author.

Was the subject of each of the films of the Balkan Trilogy decided in advance, that is before “Zita” was shot?

To be honest: no. But when we were working on the script for WARCHILD it came into my mind, that it would be a engrossing factor if I could integrate ZITA, because it has a lot of background, thoughts and subjects in common. I am fascinated with the region of the Balkan, I very often travelled to Greece (25 times) and visited also other countries in that region. So I decided to go on with a third part called ALCATRASH - a road movie that set 'out from Germany where three young women, the German-born children of “guest workers”, are on their way back to the homeland:  the Croatian, Maria Zitaric, has the task of smuggling black market money over the border.  She picks up Greek Artemis on the side of the road, a destitute hitchhiker who is heading as quickly as possible to northern Greece to locate her dying father.  On the way to Yugoslavia, they are followed by an orange-red 70s VW- Porsche.  The Rumanian ex-model, Alexa, is sitting inside.  An argument at a rest stop leads to Artemis getting into the other car with Alexa.  In the beginning, there is no indication that the three women-after taking a series of mysterious detours-will end up in Rumania as prisoners on one of the lost islands in the Danube delta. So I am planning to shoot also in Greece…

What is the common thread that unites the three films of the Balkan Trilogy?

Maria Zitaric runs like a thread through the trilogy. In Warchild she is supporting actress and if you have seen ZITA, you will understand much better what is going on. But, and that is important, all three parts will work independently of each other: as singular normal narrative movies. You do not have to see the others. But my dream is, to create something, which is in the end more than the parts itself. I intend to get a surplus out of the given context. Like our brains are not really used to its full potential as filmmakers we have to try to reach certain new forms of storytelling.

What is the statement the trilogy wants to make?

I am interested in subjects like migration, modern nomads of our civilization, where is nowadays home. Very often people are forced - because of political or economical reasons - to leave behind their country. I think our whole world is now in a melting pot! Nearly nobody lives in traditional structures any more. And this has such a strong impact on our lives that is fascinating. Especially if it has to do with war like in Warchild it is of course terrifying. Senada is searching for her child and, at the same time, is on a wider search for resolution of her dilemma and trauma.  With the collective and revived hopes and passions of a mother, she sets out on a convoluted path from Bosnia to Germany.  There she introduces the long-forgotten war into the house of her child’s adoptive parents, the repressed turbulence of the Balkan conflicts.  No stone remains unturned. And then in Alcatrash we will have the chance to meet Senada and her former husband Samir once more. We will see: Is there peace or not?