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Essential Event Info

W H A T :

  • Directors: Bill Guttentag & Dan Sturman
  • Genre: Documentary, TRT 90 minutes. In English, Mandarin and Japanese, with English subtitles.
  • Release History: USA, Dec 2007; China, Jul 2007.
  • 35mm, 1.85:1, Dolby Digital Surround Sound.
  • Discussion after the film.
  • This film is rated R for disturbing images and descriptions of wartime atrocities.

  • W H E N :

  • Tuesday, March 25
  • Wednesday, March 26

  • Screening at 7:00 pm, doors open at 6:30 pm

    W H E R E :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
    953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park/Mt. Adams.
  • Easy Access, Free Parking
    click for Directions & Map

  • T I C K E T S :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
  • Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for Art Museum members and students with valid ID.

    $7 tickets are ONLY available online, by phone, at the Museum, and at the door subject to availability.


  • tollfree 1-877-548-3237
  • at the Art Museum or by calling 513 721 ARTS

  • ...and at these locations
    ($9 tix only, cash only), click each location below for maps and phone numbers:

  • Clifton-Ludlow Ave. -
    Sitwell's Coffee House
    513 281 7487

  • Mt. Lookout Square -
    Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters

    513 871 8626

  • Northside-Hamilton Ave -
    Shake It Music & Video
    513 591 0123

  • Downtown Cincinnati -
    Coffee Emporium
    513 651 5483

  • Tickets will also be available at the door, subject to availability.

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    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.

    He has also 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. Guttentag's 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.


    Click to play, right-click to save and play:

    Flash .FLV 6.55 MB

    QuickTime, Large 9.17 MB
    Windows Media, Small 0.60 MB
    Windows Media, Medium 2.97 MB

    Windows Media, Large 8.19 MB

    Parents Note

    Many reviews note the violence and devastation shown in NANKING; the review published by the Enquirer notes sex and nudity. To clarify, no sex 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.



    Local Media:

    "You will be dazzled by the filmmaking brilliance ... NANKING, to put it simply, is a must see for anyone who wants to consider himself an active member of the human community."    Film Grade: A
       Cincinnati Enquirer, Friday March 21, Weekend/Life Section, page E48

    Read Steve Rosen's thoughtful review (Film Grade = A), available online here.   Cincinnati City Beat, March 19 issue, page 43

    Read WVXU Film Critic Larry Thomas' review on Cincinnati Edition here.

    National reviews are here.

    Why see this thought-provoking film?

    Is it important to know about a major historical event that has received scant attention over the last sixty years?   Yes, absolutely.

    Especially when history repeats itself via similar actions in WWII Germany, Russia, Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Liberia, Darfur and Kenya.

    Equally important is the opportunity to learn about a small group of people who said "No" to brutality and killing and mayhem, and, solely through force of will and conscience were able to save a quarter-million lives. What makes this unlikely band of educators, businessmen, missionaries and doctors special?

    What do they have in common with the thousands of people from dozens of nations who have moved to thwart genocide when it occured elsewhere in the world?

    We will cover these and related topics in the post-film discussion.

    About the Film

    THE POTENTIAL OF THE HUMAN RACE IS AWE-INSPIRING. We have actualized the most beautiful dreams and aspirations ... and the most horrifying nightmares.

    ON THE DARK SIDE, two sinister chords permeate our history, infused in our civilizations, cultures and collective nationalistic mindsets: the seemingly endless thirst for war and the shocking acts of inhumanity of which man has proven incredibly capable.

    MORE THAN A TRANSCRIPT OF LITTLE KNOWN EVENTS that convey the worst of human behavior, NANKING offers inspiring testimony to the power of a few who answered a higher calling, proving irrefutably that what is noble and just can prevail against insurmountable odds.

    THIS IS THE INSPIRING STORY of educators, religious leaders and missionaries, doctors and businessmen from the West who elected to stay in Nanking in 1937 after it was taken by the Japanese, risking their lives and banding together to protect thousands of Chinese citizens. This group of 22 European and Americans created a Safety Zone spanning two square miles to protect civilians, where approximately a quarter-million Chinese found refuge.

    NANKING IS PRESENTED IN A UNIQUE AND ARTFUL MANNER, bringing to life the actual words of the participants, from their diaries and letters, read on stage by professional actors in a somber tone without embellishment. These first-hand accounts are interwoven with survivor interviews, Chinese and Japanese, and with archival footage plus the photographs and 16mm films taken by the Westerners who stayed behind; all skillfully and seamlessly edited into a montage that literally takes us to Nanking at the time of the invasion and subsequent occupation.

    THE RESULT IS A POWERFUL, EMOTIONAL AND RELEVANT reminder of the heartbreaking toll war takes on the innocent, and proof that the courage and convictions of a few can counter the violence enacted by so many.

    Background & History

    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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    Discussion Leader

    Man Bun Kwan

    Dr. Kwan is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati, where he specializes in modern China, particularly its business, economic, legal, and social history.

    Courses taught include Asian Civilizations: China & Japan; Ancient China, Medieval China and Modern China. After serving as director of undergraduate studies for two years, Dr. Kwan is now the interim head of the Department of History at U.C.

    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.

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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

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    Critical Acclaim

         Top Critics rating = 100%      All Critics rating = 97%

    "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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