"Nanking" documentary lands U.S. distribution

Bill Guttentag and Robert David Port (R) at the 75th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California March 23, 2003 file photo. Independent distributor ThinkFilm has acquired North American rights to "Nanking," directed by Guttentag and Dan Sturman, a documentary chronicling Japan's infamous 1937 invasion of the Chinese city. REUTERS/Andy Clark

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Independent distributor ThinkFilm has acquired North American rights to “Nanking,” a documentary chronicling Japan’s infamous 1937 invasion of the Chinese city.

Between 150,000 and 300,000 civilians were murdered, while tens of thousands were raped. The film features interviews with Chinese survivors and Japanese soldiers, along with letters and diary entries read by actors portraying Westerners who helped save more than 200,000 Chinese refugees.

“Nanking” was directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, and narrated by Woody Harrelson, Stephen Dorff and Mariel Hemingway.

ThinkFilm plans to release the film at year’s end, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the attack known as the Nanking Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking -- also the name of the Iris Chang book that inspired the film.

“It’s an event too often ignored or eclipsed by other 20th century genocides,” said ThinkFilm theatrical head Mark Urman, who has been interested in the film since its premiere at January’s Sundance Film Festival.

“Recent events in Asia have reminded us that what happened in Nanking 70 years ago this December remains an open wound between China and Japan,” added the film’s producer, AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis, referring to recent remarks by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that there was no proof of alleged sexual slavery of women by Japanese soldiers during World War II. Abe said Thursday that he would launch an investigation into the issue after an outcry over his remarks in the United States and several Asian countries.

The Nanking Massacre also inspired controversy in January when Japanese filmmakers announced plans to make a documentary titled “The Truth About Nanking” claiming that the massacre never happened.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter