April 17, 2008

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Rated R
88 minutes

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A FREE Screening and Lecture

Nanking (2007)

April 17, 2008 at 7:00 pm in 26-100

Nanking will be preceded by comments from MIT History Professor John Dower, Pulitzer Prize winner, Academy Award Documentary Nominee, and winner of James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award for 2007-2008.

  Funded in part by a Director's Grant from the Council for the Arts at MIT.

More than a transcript of little-known events, 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 Imperial Japan, risking their lives and banding together to protect thousands of Chinese citizens. This group of 22 Europeans and Americans created a Safety Zone spanning two square miles to protect civilians, where over 200,000 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 include Woody Harrelson (No Country for Old Men) as Bob Wilson, an American surgeon; Jurgen 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. 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. []

Nanking is a testament to the courage and conviction of individuals who were determined to act in the face of evil and a powerful tribute to the resilience of the Chinese people a gripping account of light in the darkest of times. []

Winner, Best Documentary Editing, Sundance Film Festival, 2007
Winner, Best Cinematography Award, Chicago International Documentary 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

Presented in English, Japanese, and Mandarin with English subtitles.

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, Read this review.

April 17, 2008 ← Previous | Spring 2008 schedule | Next →