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China to Remake Classic Balkan Films as Part of Diplomatic Charm Offensive

China’s Huahua Media has signed on to remake two classic war films from the Balkans as part of a push to improve diplomatic ties between the Middle Kingdom and countries taking part in its “Belt and Road” global infrastructure project, Chinese reports said. The news follows Huahua’s return to the spotlight as an investor on the upcoming “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” franchise film, though the company was better-known in the past for a short-lived slate financing deal with Paramount in 2017.

The ambassadors to China from Serbia and from Bosnia and Herzegovina were present as Huahua inked a deal with the Sarajevo Film Center and a Serbian production company to remake two Serbo-Croatian-language films: 1969’s “The Bridge,” about the defense of a span against the Nazis in World War II, and 1972’s “Walter Defends Sarajevo,” helmed by the Bosnian director Hajrudin Krvavac.

“The remake is not only a tribute to the classics; it will also further promote deep cultural exchange between the three countries,” the website Sohu Film said. It cited Huahua CEO Wang Kefei as saying that the partnership “responds to the call of the state by bearing the important weight of strengthening ‘Belt and Road’ cultural exchange.”

Last week, China signed a major infrastructure deal and numerous other agreements with Serbia, the most significant of which will see cooperation between the two countries on the construction of a new metro system in Belgrade. Critics of the Belt and Road Initiative in the Balkans cite fears that such projects might create untenable debt.

China-Kazakhstan co-production “The Composer,” the first to be made from a co-production treaty to bring the mainland closer to another Belt and Road nation, was selected as the opening film for the Beijing International Film Festival last month and is set for nationwide theatrical release in China next Friday.

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