Japanese WW2 massacre film premieres in Beijing

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"Nanking", a U.S.-made film documenting eyewitness accounts of atrocities committed by Japanese troops in China during World War Two, opened in Beijing on Tuesday, as the two countries struggle to mend strained ties.

The 90-minute movie, co-directed by Oscar-winner Bill Guttentag and producer Dan Sturman, will open in mainland China in general release on July 7, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Japan's full-scale invasion of China.

It is one of a raft of films about the Nanjing Massacre, commonly known as "the Rape of Nanking", planned for release this year in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the fall of China's war-time capital to invading Japanese troops on December 13, 1937.

Produced by AOL vice-chairman, Ted Leonsis, who said he was inspired to make the film after reading Iris Chang's book "Rape of Nanking", it focuses on an unlikely collaboration of U.S. missionaries and German Nazi businessmen who lived in Nanjing during the invasion and worked to set up a safe zone for Chinese refugees in the war-torn city.

"Most Westerners don't know this movie but they should," co-director Guttentag said at the premiere. "This is a film about the best and the worst of humanity."

Weaving grainy images of bomb-ravaged streetscapes and stacked bodies of infants, with tearful testimonies of rape and torture from Chinese witnesses, Nanking also includes confessions of participation in mass killings by Japanese soldiers.

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