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The US-China Institute presents the award-winning documentary, Nanking, followed by a discussion with director Bill Guttentag.

January 28, 2010 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Bill Guttentag is a two-time Oscar-winning documentary and feature film writer-producer-director. Live!, a dramatic feature he wrote and directed starring Eva Mendes, Andre Braugher, David Krumholtz and Jeffery Dean Morgan, was produced by Chuck Roven/Mosaic Media Group. The film is being distributed domestically by The Weinstein Company, and its international distribution includes Lionsgate. Bill Guttentag also wrote and directed Nanking, a documentary which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film includes a stage reading he wrote that features Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway, and Jürgen Prochnow. Nanking was released theatrically last winter by THINKFilm.

Guttentag has directed films for HBO, ABC, CBS and others. His films include Assassinated: The Last Days of Kennedy and King (TNT/CNN) on the final year in the lives of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and The Cocaine War, an ABC News/Peter Jennings Reporting special on the drug war in South America.

Since 2001 he has been teaching a class on the film and television business at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.


“Even in the darkest of times, there is light.”

A powerful, emotional and relevant reminder of the heartbreaking toll war takes on the innocent, Nanking tells the story of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China, in the early days of World War II. As part of a campaign to conquer all of China, the Japanese subjected Nanking – which was then China’s capital – to months of aerial bombardment, and when the city fell, the Japanese army unleashed murder and rape on a horrifying scale. In the midst of the rampage, a small group of Westerners banded together to establish a Safety Zone where over 200,000 Chinese found refuge. Unarmed, these missionaries, university professors, doctors and businessmen – including a Schindler-esque Nazi named John Rabe – bore witness to the events, while risking their own lives to protect civilians from slaughter.

The story is told through deeply moving interviews with Chinese survivors, chilling archival footage and photos of the events, and testimonies of former Japanese soldiers. At the heart of Nanking is a filmed stage reading of the Westerners’ letters and diaries, featuring Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway and Jurgen Prochnow. Through its interweave of archival images, testimonies of survivors, and readings of first hand accounts, the film puts the viewer on the streets of Nanking and brings the forgotten past to startling life.

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.


Click here for more information on Bill Guttentag or the film.