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Nanjing Massacre epic historical film "John Rabe" debuts at the Berlinale
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17:08, February 17, 2009

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The 59th 10-day Berlin International Film Festival (also called the Berlinale) ended on February 15. Co-produced by German, French and Chinese studios, the film "John Rabe," which depicts the historical facts of the Nanjing Massacre, held its premiere ceremony during the festival, where it created huge sensation.

Lament and praise from reporters, as well as tears and applause from the audience, were all devoted to John Rabe. This ordinary but great German man was a representative of the German company Siemens AG in Nanjing at the time.

As the Japanese Army invaded and occupied Nanjing, Rabe proposed and organized the "International Committee for Nanking Safety Zone." In the safety zone, about 250,000 Chinese people were able to avoid disaster.

Some call Rabe "China's Schindler." Rabe had lived in China for 30 years. Amid the sound of the Japanese Army's bombardment, not only did he resolutely stay in Nanjing, he continued to write diaries, some of which were over 2,400 pages long. These diaries truly documented the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army – burning, killing, raping and plundering.

Since John Rabe was interrogated by the Gestapo shortly after he returned to Germany, his descendants did not disclose the diaries due to various concerns.

In 1996, with the efforts of foreign citizens of Chinese origin like Tzuping Shao and Iris Chang, the book "The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe" was eventually published in New York, where it immediately shocked the world.

As a denouncement of the Japanese Army's Nanjing massacre that is filled with both blood and tears, "The Good Man of Nanking" is extremely valuable as historical material, and has been translated and published in many languages including Chinese, English and Japanese.

Talking about the film, Mischa Hofmann, producer of "John Rabe," said emotionally that when he read "The Good Man of Nanking", 12 years ago, he immediately felt that one day he would make it into a film.

In addition, all of its creators said frankly that they had never heard of John Rabe before they took on the task of shooting the film. After reading his diary, they were deeply moved by John Rabe's spirit and were proud of taking part in the shooting of the film.

Ulrich Tukur, who played John Rabe, was awarded the Best Actor Award at Germany's Bavarian Film Awards this January thanks to his excellent performance in the film.

When interviewed by the media, Steve Buscemi, the famous Hollywood film star who played the part of Dr. Wilson, took out a thick copy of "The Good Man of Nanking" and told reporters that the book was the biggest reason why they all joined the film.

The film "John Rabe" has been highly praised since its screen debut. At the press conference following its first showing, the long-concealed historical truth revealed in the film shocked all reporters that were present.

Before asking questions, almost all of them said, "Thank you to the creators and thank you to 'John Rabe'." Wang Zhonglei, president of Huayi Brothers, the Chinese producer of "John Rabe," noted that the chance to produce and present the film is an honor for a Chinese producer.

He said that he hopes that, after the public showing of "John Rabe" in China, all Chinese audiences that have the Nanjing Massacre engraved in their memories will be able to feel the warmth of humanity for this unfortunate period in history and take vigor from the dauntless spirit of the Chinese nation.

Many reporters said that thanks to its realistic style of shooting, "John Rabe" perfectly integrates politics with art, and mirrors the constant theme of the Berlin International Film Festival.

The film is regarded as a rarely-seen excellent work. In particular, as many foreigners do not have a clear understanding of the Nanjing Massacre, the film reveals the historical truth to the world in a third-party narrative voice, better demonstrating its historical and social value to everyone.

By People's Daily Online

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