The Rape of Nanking

One woman couldn't forget...

The Rape of Nanking In 1937, Japanese troops entered the Chinese city of Nanking and began raping and murdering its citizens in an orgy of violence that has few parallels in modern history. This polished film follows the struggle of one young woman to bring one of the darkest chapters of history to light.

"When they came in they killed my father. My mother was holding a child. They grabbed and smashed the baby to death. They ripped off my mother's clothing...". The stories of survivors torment a young Iris Chang: images of bodies piled on top of each other, and a river running red...But when Iris wanted to find out more, she found nothing written on the massacre in English. "Why had it disappeared from the history books?"

Iris knew this was a story she had to tell. Her grandparents had fled Nanking when the streets began to fill with blood, and their memories deeply affected her. Looking at a picture of a man, ruthlessly decapitated, she said that: "In a single moment I saw the fragility of human life."

As the testimonies emerge, the full scale of the atrocities comes to light. One British reporter compared the invading Japanese to Attila and the huns. Even the Japanese reporters could not believe the brutality of their soldiers: "I saw a mass killing..blood splattered everywhere. The chilling atmosphere made one's hair stand on end and limbs tremble with fear".

Yet amid the horror, a story of heroism emerges. John Rabe, a German businessman, headed a committee of foreigners who stayed behind in Nanking to create a Safety Zone. They saved thousands from the slaughter. Rabe alone sheltered 600 refugees in his own home. Ironically, Rabe was a member of the Nazi party: an influence he used to dissuade the Japanese from their rampage.

For Iris, the more she learned of the massacre, the more she learned of "the potential of all human being for evil, not just the Japanese, not just the Germans". Yet for millions, her courageous journey to bring this forgotten tragedy to life, is one of the century's most inspiring.


Laurel Best Documentary, New York Film Festival

Laurel Special Jury prize, Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival

The Producers

Real to Reel Productions is a dynamic small independent production company known for its high quality, engaging and entertaining documentaries and factual series. Anne Pick is Vice President and Managing Director of the company. President, Bill Spahic, a renowned First AD in the feature film world is now Head of Development. Both are creative producers and directors, story editors and show runners. They have a first class production team and have made every production an award winning one over the past 20 years.

Making The Film

Anne Pick and Bill Spahic came across Iris Chang’s book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. Impressed by the emotional and deeply-felt way in which Chang told the story, Pick and Spahic decided that rather than making a conventional historical documentary, they would tell the story of Nanking from Chang’s point-of-view. To be as authentic as possible, they took the survivors to the actual locations where their families were murdered, and although they were describing events that occurred nearly 70 years earlier, they spoke about them as if they had happened yesterday. Despite the language barrier, the entire crew was moved by each highly emotional interview.

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