This month, HBO Documentary Films and THINKFilm (who collaborated on the Oscar®-winning Born into Brothels and Oscar®-nominated Spellbound) present the Cinemax premiere of Nanking, winner of the Documentary Editing Award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and the Humanitarian Award at Hong Kong Film Festival.
Like Brothels and Spellbound, Nanking has enjoyed a critically acclaimed theatrical run in advance of its exclusive premiere on Cinemax.
A gripping historical documentary executed with compelling immediacy, Nanking brings to life the many voices who have tried to make sense of one of the lesser- known tragedies of World War II - a brutal suppression that has come to be known as "the rape of Nanking." Through witnesses and historical accounts, the filmmakers have crafted a personal depiction of the days leading up to and following the Japanese siege of Nanking, along with the injustices and loss of life the Chinese endured by the hands of their captors.
An estimated 20,000 women and children were raped during the invasion, with many also murdered or mutilated. Male soldiers and civilians were rounded up and systematically slaughtered. And while most westerners fled before the conflict, a handful stayed to help establish a Safety Zone where many poor Chinese, who could not escape from the city, found refuge from the soldiers' wrath. Though some 200,000 Chinese were killed, that number could have been far higher were it not for the courage of these westerners.
The film includes a staged reading of the writings of the Safety Zone committee, performed by several talented actors. These include Woody Harrelson (No Country for Old Men) as Bob Wilson, an American surgeon; Jürgen Prochnow (Das Boot) as John Rabe, a German businessman; Mariel Hemingway (Manhattan) as Minnie Vautrin, headmistress of a missionary women's college; Stephen Dorff (Blade) as Lewis Smythe, a professor at the University of Nanking; Rosalind Chao (The Joy Luck Club) as Chang Yu Zheng, a firsthand witness; John Getz (Zodiac) as George Fitch, an American missionary who smuggled valuable film out of China; and Mark Valley (Boston Legal) as the Stage Manager, who links the narrative together.
Nanking is the producing debut of AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis, who imagined the project. It is produced, written and directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, who collaborated on Twin Towers, winner of a 2003 Oscar® for Best Documentary Short.
Credits: Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman; Screenplay by Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman and Elisabeth Bentley; Executive Produced by Ted Leonsis; Produced by Bill Guttentag and Michael Jacobs; Music by Philip Marshall.