Nanjing massacre anniversary marked in new film

BEIJING (Reuters) - Film producers from China, the United States and Britain have begun shooting a movie about the Rape of Nanjing, adding to a series of films marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

“Purple Mountain” would depict the atrocities by the invading Japanese army in December 1937, in which China says hundreds of thousands of Nanjing residents were slaughtered, through the eyes of a middle-class Chinese mother and her daughter, Xinhua said.

Shooting began on Tuesday in the city, then the Chinese capital and known as Nanking, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, but the producers had yet to reveal who would star in the film, Xinhua said.

The crew hoped the $53 million movie would have an impact on audiences similar to that of Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust film, “Schindler’s List”, Xinhua quoted American producer Gerald Green as saying.

China says Japanese troops slaughtered 300,000 disarmed soldiers and civilians in the massacre. An Allied tribunal after World War Two put the death toll at about 142,000 and found that more than 20,000 rapes were committed.

But some Japanese rightist historians say the numbers are exaggerated, estimating as few as 20,000 soldiers and civilians were killed. Others deny a massacre happened at all.

The latest movie, named after the Purple Mountain in Nanjing’s southeast and adapted from Iris Chang’s book, “The Rape of Nanking”, is produced by China’s Jiangsu Cultural Industry Group and Hollywood entertainment firm Viridian, Xinhua said.

The U.S.-made documentary film “Nanking”, about a dozen Westerners setting up a safe zone for refugees in the war-torn city, premiered in China earlier in July to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the start of all-out Sino-Japanese War.

Several Chinese directors are also rushing to make films about the massacre, state media reported.

A Japanese group backed by ultra-nationalist figures plans to make “The Truth about Nanjing”, a documentary denying Japanese atrocities.