Free event – Nanking the film, and discussion with director Bill Guttentag

The US-China Institute presents the award-winning documentary, Nanking, followed by a discussion with director Bill Guttentag.

01/28/2010 6:00PM – 8:00PM

Leavey Library
Address: University of Southern California
Cost: Free

Bill Guttentag is a two-time Oscar-winning documentary and feature film writer-producer-director. Live!, a dramatic feature he wrote and directed starring Eva Mendes, Andre Braugher, David Krumholtz and Jeffery Dean Morgan, was produced by Chuck Roven/Mosaic Media Group. The film is being distributed domestically by The Weinstein Company, and its international distribution includes Lionsgate. Bill Guttentag also wrote and directed Nanking, a documentary which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film includes a stage reading he wrote that features Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway, and Jürgen Prochnow. Nanking was released theatrically last winter by THINKFilm.

Guttentag has directed films for HBO, ABC, CBS and others. His films include Assassinated: The Last Days of Kennedy and King (TNT/CNN) on the final year in the lives of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and The Cocaine War, an ABC News/Peter Jennings Reporting special on the drug war in South America.

Since 2001 he has been teaching a class on the film and television business at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

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“Even in the darkest of times, there is light.”

A powerful, emotional and relevant reminder of the heartbreaking toll war takes on the innocent, Nanking tells the story of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China, in the early days of World War II. As part of a campaign to conquer all of China, the Japanese subjected Nanking – which was then China’s capital – to months of aerial bombardment, and when the city fell, the Japanese army unleashed murder and rape on a horrifying scale. In the midst of the rampage, a small group of Westerners banded together to establish a Safety Zone where over 200,000 Chinese found refuge. Unarmed, these missionaries, university professors, doctors and businessmen – including a Schindler-esque Nazi named John Rabe – bore witness to the events, while risking their own lives to protect civilians from slaughter.

The story is told through deeply moving interviews with Chinese survivors, chilling archival footage and photos of the events, and testimonies of former Japanese soldiers. At the heart of Nanking is a filmed stage reading of the Westerners’ letters and diaries, featuring Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway and Jurgen Prochnow. Through its interweave of archival images, testimonies of survivors, and readings of first hand accounts, the film puts the viewer on the streets of Nanking and brings the forgotten past to startling life.

Nanking is a testament to the courage and conviction of individuals who were determined to act in the face of evil and a powerful tribute to the resilience of the Chinese people – a gripping account of light in the darkest of times.

Click here for more information on Bill Guttentag or the film.

Contact: US-China Institute
Phone: 213-821-4382
Email: uschina@usc.edu

Sponsor(s): US-China Institute

‘City of Life and Death’ wins Spanish film award

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gJv1FjlkWNR0k6Je1F54zOMdS96AD9AV5U7G0‘City of Life and Death’ wins Spanish film award

By ALVARO BARRIENTOS (AP)
September 27, 2009
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/images/attachement/jpg/site1/20090927/0013729e42ea0c28ffe23b.jpg
Chinese director Lu Chan (L) and actress Qin Lan (R) receive the Golden Shell award of the 57th San Sebastian International Film Festival to the best film, for their film “City of Life and Death” in the northern Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian. [Agencies]
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/media/ALeqM5juexI0nKkHzSg66LW1Nz7Ifa8RTA?size=lhttp://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/media/ALeqM5juexI0nKkHzSg66LW1Nz7Ifa8RTA?size=l
Chinese film director Lu Chuan poses beside a promotional movie poster for his film “City of Life and Death” in Beijing

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — Chinese director Lu Chuan’s film “City of Life and Death” has won the top prize at Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival.

The movie, a sensitive and balanced depiction of a traumatic moment in China’s history known as the Nanking Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking, deals with a six-week period in 1937-38 following the Japanese capture of the Chinese city of Nanking.

The metropolis was the capital of the Republic of China, and hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and tens of thousands of women raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.

“Shot in wide lens black-and-white, the film alternates Japanese and Chinese points of view to brush a compelling and impressionist portrait of the day-to-day living conditions in the devastated city,” the jury said, praising Lu’s focus on “the minute ethical dilemmas demanded by surviving in wartime.”

The best actress award went to Lola Duenas for her performance in Spanish film “Yo Tambien,” while the best actor prize went to Pablo Pineda for the same film.

Pineda was the first Spanish person with Down’s syndrome to obtain a university degree, and he has now gained the festival’s top acting award for his role as Daniel, a man who sees in Laura — Lola Duenas — the kind of woman he has always longed for.

Duenas has previously attracted critical acclaim in Pedro Almodovar’s “Volver” and “The Sea Inside,” where she played opposite Javier Bardem’s character Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic.

Javier Rebollo won the best director prize for “La Mujer Sin Piano,” a Spain-France collaboration, while the jury’s prize for best cinematography went to Cao Yu for “City of Life and Death.”

Rebollo’s movie deals humorously with a 24-hour period in a woman’s life and features actress Carmen Machi in her first lead role beside Czech actor Jan Budar.

The festival’s special prize went to “Le Refuge” by Francois Ozon of France. The film begins in a chic Paris apartment, where Mousse — Isabelle Carre — and Louis — Melvil Poupaud — two beautiful people, have fallen into a chaotic lifestyle. They are very much in love but also clearly doomed.

Best screenplay award went to Andrew Bovell, Melissa Reeves, Patricia Corneluus and Christos Tsiolkas for the Australian film “Blessed.”

This movie follows the complex lives and misadventures of seven youths who wander the Melbourne streets at night as their mothers await their return home.

 

The awards were announced Saturday by festival jury president, film director Laurent Cantet.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

“Nanking” Won 2009 Emmy Award in Best Historical

http://www.global-alliance.net/images/Ga_logo_100dpi.jpg http://www.global-alliance.net/images/Gabanner_100dpi.jpg
Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WW II in Asia
P.O. Box 1323, San Carlos, CA 94070-7323 * http://www.global-alliance.net

Press Release
September 22, 2009

“Nanking” Won 2009 Emmy Award
in
Best Historical Programming

The Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WW II in Asia congratulates the producers, directors and members of the production team of the documentary “Nanking” for winning the 2009 Emmy award in the “Best Historical Programming” category this week.

Documentary “Nanking” was produced by former vice chairman of American Online Ted Leonsis and directed by twice-Oscar-winning veterans Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman. It was first released to show in the U.S. and Chinese theaters in major cities before it was made available for free public viewing on Internet in 2008. It has won numerous awards, including the most prestigious award for jounalists, the Peabody Award, and the Documentary Editing award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007. In addition, “Nanking” was also nominated in two other categories for the Emmy Award in 2009.

A powerful, emotional and relevant reminder of the heartbreaking toll war takes on the innocent, Nanking tells the story of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China, in the early days of World War II. As part of a campaign to conquer all of China, the Japanese subjected Nanking – which was then China’s capital – to months of aerial bombardment, and when the city fell, the Japanese army unleashed murder and rape on a horrifying scale. In the midst of the rampage, a small group of Westerners banded together to establish a Safety Zone where over 200,000 Chinese found refuge. Unarmed, these missionaries, university professors, doctors and businessmen – including a Nazi named John Rabe – bored witness to the events, while risking their own lives to protect civilians from slaughter.

The story is told through deeply moving interviews with Chinese survivors, chilling archival footage and photos of the events, and testimonies of former Japanese soldiers. At the heart of Nanking is a filmed stage reading of the Westerners’ letters and diaries, featuring Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway and Jurgen Prochnow. Through its interweave of archival images, testimonies of survivors, and readings of first hand accounts, the film puts the viewer on the streets of Nanking and brings the forgotten past to startling life.

“Nanking” is a testament to the courage and conviction of individuals who were determined to act in the face of evil and a powerful tribute to the resilience of the Chinese people – a gripping account of light in the darkest of times.

Please contact Ignatius Y. Ding at ignatius@sbcglobal.net for further information.

Nanjing Nanjing-A film likely no one will forget

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/tiff-mob-blog-2009/a-film-likely-no-one-will-forget/article1284400/

Here in Toronto the T. Film Festival is going on and this article appeared in the national newspaper. Another film for us to watch for should national (US) distribution occur.

check your local video store for a copy
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Saturday, September 12, 2009 01:16 PM

A film likely no one will forget
Guy Dixon

The Asian film industry will be closely following the reaction to one film in particular at TIFF this year. Nanjing Nanjing (English title: City of Life and Death) graphically depicts the horrific devastation of Nanjing by Japanese forces in late 1937 to early 1938. The film deals with the mass murder and rape in epic proportions, somberly, without gratuitously showing more gore than necessary, yet also not shying away from the atrocities. Shot to perfection in black and white, it is widely seen as China’s likely submission for an Oscar for best foreign-language film.

Of course, the film hasn’t avoided controversy. It was a box-office success in its Chinese release earlier this year, after having passed official censors. Yet a campaign criticizing the portrayal of some of the Japanese soldiers in more human terms, especially the central Japanese lead, has erupted on the Internet, said TIFF programmer Giovanna Fulvi. Arguably, though, the humanness of the Japanese soldiers in the film makes the atrocities committed that much more sickening and immediate.

What’s of particular interest now is how Western audiences will react. The theatre was packed for its first press and industry screening Thursday evening at the festival. It was a mature crowd. At the end, there was a round of applause, which is usually far less common than at the festival’s public screenings. It’s unlikely a film anyone attending that night will forget.

Soldier who stayed on tells filmmaker how ‘We had to kill, kill, kill’

http://search. japantimes. co.jp/cgi- bin/fl20090726x3 .html
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Soldier who stayed on tells filmmaker how ‘We had to kill, kill, kill’

By EDAN CORKILL
Staff writer

The most astounding moment in “Flowers and Troops,” a documentary film by Yojyu Matsubayashi, is when the young director leans close to one of his subjects — an 87-year-old former corporal in the Imperial Japanese Army — and says, “I’ve heard that some Japanese soldiers ate human flesh.”

News photo
Mixed feelings: Yaichiro Nakano, seen here with his Thai wife and his enlistment photograph, is one of six former Japanese soldiers who 30-year-old filmmaker Yojyu Matsubayashi tracked down in Thailand, where they have lived since most fled from prisoner-of-war camps at the end of World War II. YOJYU MATSUBAYASHI

The former corporal, named Yaichiro Nakano, averts his eyes and, after a long pause, replies: “There are some things that I just can’t talk about.”

Nakano is one of six former soldiers interviewed in the film. What makes Matsubayashi’s question so poignant is that Nakano, like the five other interviewees, lives in Thailand — where they stayed at the end of the war to avoid being sent back to Japan after escaping from their defeated units or prisoner-of-war camps.

Matsubayashi’s blunt reference to cannibalism is his way of trying to pinpoint the experience that might have prompted these former soldiers to discard their country for good.

The film works both because, and in spite of, the director’s ignorance of his subject. During filming he was just 27 and 28 years old — now he’s 30.

“Because I was so young, I could honestly say that I didn’t understand what happened in the war. If I had been older, my questions would have angered the old soldiers because they would have thought I should know better,” the director said.

Matsubayashi traces his interest in Japan’s wartime past back to his time in primary school. When Emperor Hirohito (posthumously known as Emperor Showa) died in 1989, his teacher set him the task of interviewing relatives about their experiences in the war.

News photo
Looking back: Yojyu Matsubayashi, who interviewed six former Japanese soldiers who stayed in Thailand after World War II for his film, “Flowers and Troops.” EDAN CORKILL

“I spoke to a friend’s grandfather. He fought in Burma, and I remember he said that things happened he couldn’t tell children. Those words stuck with me.”

Fast forward to 1999, and Matsubayashi was backpacking through Asia.

“I met lots of foreigners and realized they all had many bad impressions of the war. I met people in Singapore and Malaysia who don’t like the Japanese. I realized that when you’re Japanese, people look at you in lots of different ways,” he recalled.

A year later, Matsubayashi enrolled in the Japan Academy of Moving Images and came across director Shohei Imamura’s 1971 documentary, “Mikikanhei wo Otte” (“Pursuing the Soldiers Who Didn’t Return Home”), about a soldier who remained in Thailand after the war.

News photo
Distant memories: Yaichiro Nakano (left), a wartime army medic, sits at home with his wife in Mae Sot, Thailand. YOJYU MATSUBAYASHI

“I wanted to know what really happened in the war,” Matsubayashi said. But he also felt that the nonreturnees could shed light on broader questions of what it means to be Japanese and the nature of Japanese society today.

“They have spent 60 years essentially without contact with Japan. I thought it would be interesting to hear their thoughts,” he said.

Matsubayashi said that the nonreturnees have generally been regarded as deserters, particularly by those soldiers who did return to Japan — like Matsubayashi’s own great uncle.

“But when I showed my great uncle photos of the former soldiers I met in Thailand, he said they looked like they have enjoyed very peaceful lives,” Matsubayashi recalled.

While their lives in Thailand do seem peaceful — in many cases they are surrounded by Thai wives, children and grandchildren — the soldiers Matsubayashi interviewed are still haunted by their wartime memories.

One of those, Isamu Sakai, recalls vividly his decision to remain in Thailand.

News photo
Down time: Former Japanese soldier Isamu Sakai (foreground), who died in 2007 at age 90, told filmmaker Yojyu Matsubayashi that he decided to remain in Thailand after the war when he heard a rumor that British planes had bombed a repatriation boat in the Strait of Malacca. He is pictured here in Mae Sot with his Thai wife shortly before he passed away. YOJYU MATSUBAYASHI

“The information we got was not good. I heard that the Japanese ships (taking soldiers back to Japan) got bombed by a British plane in the Strait of Malacca. I lost all hope,” he said.

Like many others, Sakai was eventually welcomed into a village where he put to use his army-acquired skill as a mechanic.

Other former soldiers give accounts of battle so graphic they make you sit up in your seat.

“We had to kill, kill, kill,” barks 89-year-old Matsuyoshi Fujita through a toothless mouth. “We killed the Chinese children, their mothers, everything. There was an order that we had to kill them all if they were Chinese, good or bad. You understand? We had to kill the children.”

Fujita, who served in Singapore before being transferred to Burma, was the same soldier interviewed in Imamura’s 1971 documentary. He is well known in Japan for having built a memorial tomb and, over a 40-year period, buried the remains of more than 800 of his fellow soldiers.

“I built the memorial because the Japanese government wasn’t doing anything for the fallen,” he said.

He is also unequivocal about where blame lies for the war.

“It was a national operation, an order from the Emperor. We didn’t just go out there by ourselves. It was our Emperor Hirohito’s order. . . . If we didn’t follow an order, we’d get killed ourselves.”

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Some former soldiers interviewed by Matsubayashi had been interviewed by Japanese journalists in the past. But he said he thought each had been more open with him than they had been with others.

“I think it’s because they are approaching death, and because I was so young,” Matsubayashi said.

Fujita’s testimony, in particular, is peppered with anxious confirmations that the Matsubayashi, who is in many of the shots, is comprehending what he’s hearing: “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“There is this massive gap between my generation and his,” Matsubayashi said. “He knows we can never bridge that gap, but he still wants us to try to imagine what it was like — to understand why they did what they did.”
For more information about “Flowers and Troops,” and to view a trailer for the film, visit www.hanatoheitai.jp

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