Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  53 minutes
Date:  2007
Genre:  Expository
Language:  French / English subtitles
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Till today the history of the 1937 'Rape of Nanking' is a point of contention between China and Japan. How is it seen in each country, and can a shared memory ever be constructed?


Although the Nanjing Massacre, a series of war crimes committed by Japanese troops in China's capital during the second Sino-Japanese War, occurred seventy years ago, the nature and extent of these atrocities remains the subject of continuing historical debate and the source of political tensions between China and Japan.

During the military occupation, Japanese troops engaged in arson, rape, looting and executions of prisoners of war and civilians, including women and children. Debate continues to rage over the extent of the atrocities and the number of deaths, with some Japanese denying any atrocities took place, but credible estimates of non-combatant deaths range from 100,000 to 300,000.

NANJING: MEMORY AND OBLIVION uses archival footage and photos, interviews with Chinese survivors and eyewitnesses, former Japanese soldiers, and both Chinese and Japanese government officials, historians and lawyers, to document the events of 'The Rape of Nanking' and to show how the interpretation of this history has become politicized.

In addition to shocking accounts of atrocities witnessed and committed, the film profiles those foreigners residing in Nanjing, known as 'the righteous,' including John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin and John Magee, whose efforts saved many lives. Although featuring contentious commentary by both Japanese and Chinese advocates for both sides of the continuing controversy, NANJING also shows a Chinese and a Japanese history teacher who, unlike their government leaders, are working to construct a shared memory of the events.

'A remarkable documentary... retraces with precision the unfolding of events... gives a frightening example of the manipulation of history.'-Télérama

'Chinese survivors and Japanese soldiers, with sincerity, sadness or profound disturbance, recount the horrors of the bloody events... a valuable testimony.'-ProChoix

'This engrossing film reconstructs the facts of the atrocities committed in Nanking. By shedding light on this disputed event, one which has divided the neighboring countries and left inhabitants full of pain and resentment, filmmaker Michael Prazan hopes to absorb this lapse in collective memory and bring the people of China and Japan closer together.' Chicago International Documentary Festival Program


** 2007 Chicago International Documentary Festival
** 2006 International Festival of Audiovisual Programs


Main credits

Heftler, Lauraine (Director)
Heftler, Lauraine (Producer)

Other credits

Photography, Liu Yong Hong ... [et al.]; editing, Christian Girier.

Distributor credits

A Film by Michael Prazan

Docuseek2 subjects

Conflict Resolution
World War II
Asian History
Politics and Political Science
Asian Studies

Distributor subjects

Conflict Resolution
East Asia
History (World)
Political Science
World War II


Nanking; Nanjing; Prazan; massacre; Nanjing massacre; Nanking massacre; memory; oblivion; Japanese; Japanesse; soldiers; rape of nanking; rape of nanjing; occupation; documentary; film; video; DVD; ; ; "Nanjing"; Icarus Films

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