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Premiere Ohio Screening, Two Nights Only
7 PM Tue & Wed, March 25-26
Cincinnati Art Museum  953 Eden Park Dr., 45202

Alive & Kicking Trailer Fresh from the Academy Awards shortlist for Best Documentary Film, NANKING depicts the 1937 Japanese conquest of China's capitol city and the atrocities during the subsequent occupation, commonly known as the "Rape of Nanking."

This is a powerful and emotional reminder of the heartbreaking toll war takes upon innocent civilians – highly relevant in light of current global conditions. It is a testament to the courage of a few individuals determined to act in the face of evil and a powerful tribute to the resilience of the Chinese people.

Oscar-winning directors Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman take an unusual, and effective, approach combining readings and visuals. They bring us the story of a few Americans and Europeans who chose not to abandon the doomed city when those who could do so fled. Instead, they resolved to protect those who remained behind, creating a "safety zone" credited with saving a quarter-million Chinese from annihilation.

Interviews with actual survivors, both Chinese and Japanese, are riveting. First-hand accounts, from diaries and letters written by safety zone committee members, come to life in coordinated readings. We hear the emotional words of American college administrator Minnie Vautrin, German businessman John Rabe, American surgeon Bob Wilson, and others, as they bear witness to the harrowing events in what had become hell-on-earth.

Archival newsreel footage, combined with photos and 16mm film shot by American missionary John Magee, are skillfully interwoven with the interviews and readings. The result is deeply moving, as the film puts the viewer on the streets of Nanking and brings the forgotten past vividly into focus.

Learn More:   |  Event Details  |  History  |  Parents Note  |  The Directors  |  Critical Acclaim  |

Local Media Reactions...
• Steve Rosen's City Beat review (Film Grade = A)  – Cincinnati City Beat Magazine, March 19
• Film Critic Larry Thomas' Cincinnati Edition review  – NPR Affiliate WVXU 89.7 FM
• "You will be dazzled by the filmmaking brilliance ... NANKING, to put it simply, is a must see... Film Grade: A"
Cincinnati Enquirer Weekend/Life, Friday March 21



 NANKING, presented by Cincinnati World Cinema:  35mm, Dolby Digital Surround Sound; TRT 90 minutes; in English, Mandarin and Japanese, with English subtitles; rated R for disturbing images and descriptions of wartime atrocities.

7:00 PM, Tuesday March 25 & Wednesday March 26, at the Cincinnati Art Museum 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati 45202.  Easy Access, Free Parking – Directions & Map.   Questions?  or call (859) 957 3456.

Post-film discussion led by Dr. Man Bun Kwan
Dr. Kwan is Associate Professor of History and interim Department Head at the University of Cincinnati, where he specializes in modern China, particularly its business, economic, legal, and social history. Born in Hong Kong, Dr. Kwan received his B.A. (magna cum laude) from UCLA in 1977 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1990. He was the recipient of a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University's Fairbank Center and is currently an active presenter on Chinese business, economic and social topics at conferences, seminars and workshops in the U.S. and China.

Tickets for the film and discussion are:
    Adult general admission, $9 advance, $11 door.
    Museum Members / Students, $7 advance, $9 door — must show valid ID upon arrival.

Click here for online tickets All tickets available online, at the Art Museum, and by phone, (859) 957-FILM.   Advance $9 adult tix available at Coffee Emporium, Sitwell's Coffee House, Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters and Shake It Music & Video. Tickets also at the door, subject to availability.

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Still photos from the film


Japan had a presence in mainland Asia since 1931, when they annexed Manchuria and established Manchuoko, a puppet Japanese state. In August 1937, Japan began a full-scale invasion of China. The Japanese army fought a series of fierce ground battles in Shanghai and launched a massive air raid campaign against Nanking, then China's capital. By November 12th, Shanghai had fallen and by December 13th, the Japanese had defeated the defending Chinese army and invaded the city of Nanking.

The events now known as 'the rape of Nanking' lasted approximately six weeks. The city was looted and burned, and marauding Japanese soldiers unleashed a staggering wave of violence on Nanking's population. According to the summary judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East - also known as the Tokyo Trials, "estimates indicate that the total number of civilians and prisoners of war murdered in Nanking and its vicinity during the first six weeks of the Japanese occupation was over 200,000. Approximately 20,000 cases of rape occurred in the city during the first month of the occupation."

Prior to the fall of the city, many Chinese fled the approaching troops and all foreign citizens were ordered to evacuate. A group of 22 European and American expatriates, however, refused to leave. Despite devastating air strikes and the threat of an oncoming army, these Westerners - including John Rabe, a Nazi businessman; Bob Wilson, an American surgeon; and Minni Vautrin, the American headmistress of a missionary college - remained behind in order to set up a Safety Zone to protect civilians. Some two hundred thousand refugees crowded into the Zone, which spanned two square miles. During the brutal occupation, Safety Zone committee members vehemently protested the army's actions to the Japanese authorities, but the carnage continued. Every day John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin, and the others fought to keep the Safety Zone's boundaries intact and the refugees safe.

By March, the worst of the violence had subsided and the army moved on, leaving behind an occupying force. The refugee camps in the Safety Zone were disbanded, though intensive relief efforts continued. The Japanese set up a puppet government that ruled Nanking until the end of the war. In 1948, the Tokyo Tribunal convicted Iwane Matsui, commander of Japanese forces in central China, of war crimes and sentenced him to death. Emperor Hirohito and his uncle Prince Asaka, who commanded the troops that actually occupied Nanking during the massacre, were spared.

Today, Many Japanese know little about the wartime atrocities their country committed throughout Asia. Seventy years later, the invasion of Nanking remains a divisive issue. Some Japanese ultra-conservatives deny or minimize the massacre; to this day, many Japanese believe stories of atrocities in Nanking are exaggerations and lies. Soon after producer Ted Leonsis decided to create a documentary about Nanking, mass protests broke out in China over Japanese approval of textbooks that called the Nanking massacre an 'incident.' The protests made headlines around the world. Many in Asia are also outraged by the former Japanese prime minister's annual pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Along with millions of soldiers who died for the Japanese Emperor, Yasukuni - which translates as 'peaceful nation' - enshrines the souls of 14 class A war criminals.

In advance of December 2007, the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Nanking, the Chinese and Japanese governments convened a joint committee of historians in an attempt to agree upon a common version of the history of the Sino-Japanese conflict, including what happened in Nanking.

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Parents Note

Many reviews note the violence and devastation shown in NANKING; the review published by the Cincinnati Enquirer notes sex and nudity. To clarify, no sexual acts are shown and there is one brief moment of partial female nudity. However, this film shows actual scenes of war including dead bodies and still photos of bayonetting and beheading.

The photographs and film footage are real and not used gratuitously - the images conveyed are appropriate within the context of the actual events and the scope of this documentary. In general, the images are comparable to footage from Rwanda, Eastern Europe and Iraq.

By comparison, the graphic violence and gore depicted in many fiction films and popular video games exceeds that of the images presented in NANKING. But to be clear, the visual and verbal representations of this documentary are indeed severe because they are real.

About the Directors

Bill Guttentag

In addition to Nanking, Bill Guttentag wrote and directed Live!, a dramatic feature which premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The film stars Eva Mendes, Andre Braugher, David Krumholtz, and Jay Hernandez. In 2003 he won an Oscar for the documentary Twin Towers. It was his second Academy Award; the first was in 1989 for You Don't Have to Die, a film he made for HBO.

Guttentag received three additional Oscar nominations, and two Emmy Awards. His films have been selected three times for the Sundance Film Festival and have played and won awards at numerous American and international film festivals. His films have received a number of special screenings, including one at the White House.

Bill Guttentag has made documentary films for HBO, ABC, CBS and others, including Crack USA, which was nominated for an Academy Award; and Memphis PD: War on the Streets, for which he received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. In 1998 Guttentag directed Assassinated: The Last Days of Kennedy and King on the final year in the lives of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

He wrote, produced and directed The Cocaine War, an ABC News/Peter Jennings Reporting special on the drug war in South America. He also made 5 American Handguns - 5 American Kids, an Emmy-nominated HBO special on children and handguns. The film was honored by the Brady family and The Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence.

Bill Guttentag is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the American Film Institute. In 1998-99 he was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. Since 2001 he has been teaching a class on the film and television business at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford.

Dan Sturman

NANKING is Dan Sturman's directorial debut. Previously, Sturman produced Twin Towers, an Academy Award-winning documentary about two brothers - one a firefighter, the other a policeman -- who died in the World Trade Center collapse. The film screened at the White House, at Sundance in 2003, and at numerous other festivals.

Between 2001 and 2003, Sturman produced three seasons of Crime & Punishment, the award-winning NBC documentary series created by Dick Wolf and Bill Guttentag. The series was part of the "Law & Order" family of shows. Sturman has reported and produced for ABC News, CBS News, and the BBC while based in Los Angeles; for Reuters and NBC News while based in London; and for ABC News "20/20" in New York.

In 1992, Sturman was the associate producer of another Academy Award-winning documentary, A Time for Justice. The film, produced by Cincinnati native Charles Guggenheim, commemorates the lives of the men, women, and children who were killed during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 60's. Dan Sturman is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University.

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Awards & Nominations

Winner, Best Cinematography Award, Chicago International Documentary Film Festival, 2007
Winner, Humanitarian Award, Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2007
Winner, Crystal Heart Award, Heartland Film Festival, 2007
Winner, Audience Favorite Award, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, 2007
Winner, Director's Choice Award, Sedona International Film Festival, 2007
Winner, Best Documentary Film, Sedona International Film Festival, 2007
Winner, Excellence in Filmmaking Award, Sedona International Film Festival, 2007
Winner, Best Documentary Editing, Sundance Film Festival, 2007
Nominated, Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival, 2007
Nominated, Documentary Screenplay Award, Writers Guild of America, 2008

Critical Acclaim

     Top Critics rating = 100% Fresh     All Critics rating = 96% Fresh

"The voices in NANKING speak for the persistence of good in times and places where a moral crevice opens to reveal a vision of hell on earth."
     ~ Steven Holden, The New York Times

"Documentaries often strive to wake us up, to give us a historical context for the difficult choices we will make in the future. But only a few do so with the artistic acumen and moral conviction of NANKING, a documentary that may well rank among the greatest retellings of a historical event put on film.
     ~ Jay Antani, BoxOffice.com

"This documentary is not just moving, but essential."
     ~ Bob Mondello, NPR

"I have rarely, if ever, seen a documentary reconstruction of a historical event that is so rich in firsthand (and well-preserved) photographic material."
     ~ Richard Schickel, Time Magazine

"Mandatory viewing!"
     ~ Karen Fragala, Newsweek

"One can't help but think of current corollaries and the documentaries to come: while the footage and survivors of Nanking are gray and decaying, its incredible story is not something out of the past; the evil and ignorance it describes are alive and thriving today."
     ~ Michelle Orange, The Village Voice

"Nanking is grim but ultimately uplifting, a reminder that even in dangerous times, brave individuals can hold the line against barbarism."
     ~ Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"With eye-opening importance, NANKING sheds light on particular wartime atrocities largely neglected in the collective memory."
     ~ Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

"There won't be a more powerful, horrific or inspiring film this year than NANKING."
     ~ David Noh, Film Journal International

"NANKING both calls attention to a horrifying set of war crimes that remains little known in the West and crafts an impossible-but-true hymn to the power of the individual conscience."
     ~ Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com

"The personalities it brings to light -- many of whom were forced to remain silent about what they'd seen after returning to their homelands -- are worthy of widespread exposure."
     ~ Justin Chang, Variety

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