Having started principal photography of his World War II film "The Way Back" on February 23, six-time Academy Award nominee Peter Weir intends to work in Sofia for another month.
Weir, who wrote the script of the $35 million film, will end the Bulgarian portion of the shooting on April 24. The film is based on Slavomir Rawicz's "The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom," which sold half a million copies and was translated into 25 languages., Filming on the epic adaptation started with a strenuous "Siberian" section in the 300 and 1500 sq. m Nu Boyana Film sound stages. The tragic imprisonment and courageous escape of a Polish soldier (Slavomir Rawicz himself) and a group of multinational friends from a 1940 Gulag camp was reconstructed in more than ten wood-sheds and on an impressive set built atop the near-by Sofia Vitosha Mountain. A separate stage was also used for the re-creation of a frost-covered northern forest.
A considerable part of the Sofia production service company BUFO's crew has been engaged for the shooting. Over 60 Bulgarian crew members are working alongside the Australian and UK teams. Some of the local crew will follow the director to Morocco, where the episodes of the flight of the prisoners through the desert will be shot. The third section of the film will be shot in India, where, according to the true story, the prisoners found their freedom.
The cast includes Colin Farrell (recent Golden Globe nominee for In Bruge), Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, and Saoirse Ronan, and Bulgarian actors Zahari Baharov (who achieved national recognition in Yavor Gardev's Zift) and Stefan Shterev. The extras, ranging in age from 18 to 50, were chosen during two huge castings in January. Two additional castingsare planned forMarch 25 and 28, and organized by the Bulgarian company Talent Partners.
Unexpectedly for the Bulgarian cast and crew, Weir started the shoot after several daily rehearsals "around the table." "I was amazed by the fact that not only Farrell and Harris were listening to the director, but every single member of the crew was asked to be present," Baharov said.
World wide sales agent Exclusive Film Distribution is planning to distribute the film in 2011.