Film Backed by Leonsis to Hit Theaters Dec. 12

HBO Documentary Films and THINKFilm will distribute the documentary "Nanking" in U.S. theaters beginning Dec. 12 this year, according to an announcement by HBO today. The film will appear on HBO after its public run.

Nanking, produced by AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and was featured at the 2007 Silverdocs Festival in Silver Spring in June. The film was chosen for Docweek in Los Angeles, which opens Thursday.

"HBO is the perfect venue for this important film and they will market it with the respect and dignity it deserves," Leonsis said in an e-mail today. "They are the high-class venue for documentary films and they reach the broadest and highest quality of audiences."

Leonsis would not disclose the rights fee for the film.

Nanking, which is directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, tells the story of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China in the early days of World War II and focuses on the efforts of a small group of unarmed Westerners who established a safety zone where more than 200,000 Chinese found refuge.

The film won the documentary editing award at Sundance Film Festival and the Humanitarian Award at Hong Kong Film Festival. It opened in China in July and became the highest-grossing documentary film in China's history, according to the release by HBO and THINKFilm.

HBO has previously collaborated with THINKFilm on such theatrical releases as the "Born Into Brothels," which won an Academy Award, and "Spellbound," which was nominated for an Academy Award.
-- Thomas Heath

By Mike Shepard  |  August 15, 2007; 5:11 PM ET  | Category:  AOL
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I attended the "Rape of Nanking" Conference at the Wilson Center of
International Studies with the late Iris Chang at Princeton as I was
researching data for my novel, "The Gook Lover." She encouraged me to write my book even as she at the peak of her too-short brilliant career.

"The Gook Lover" is a pro-Asian, but anti-Imperial Japan tale; the story of a young Japanese officer disillusioned by the Rape of Nanking. He cheats, steals and betrays his friends in his rise from lowly latrine orderly during the U.S. Occupation. He eventually rides Japan's economic
boom to become acclaimed as the "Henry Ford of modern Japan." He knew
the ancient Chinese adage: "Think Organize. Do Good," but failed to
do much good in his long, eventful life. Then a casual glance in a
Manhattan book store window changes his life and possibly, that of
Japan's denial of its war guilt.

Reason for the novel: I was a 17-year-old soldier when I was called a "Gook Lover" because I had written my name in Katakana characters on my fatigue cap and was trying to learn the language. I was too young-dumb to realize it, but I was trying to solve the puzzle. Were the Japanese the bright, polite and submissive people that I met or the Yankee-hating, sadistic fiends of war propaganda? The answer, I found, is they are like the rest of us: human beings who can be led astray by arrogant leadership and falsehoods.

I'll have review copies in three weeks for an Oct.-Nov. release date.
Would you like receive a review copy? There is no obligation of any
kind.

Thank you.

Ron Wulkan
ronwulkan@msn.com
Sarasota, FL

Posted by: Ron Wulkan | September 3, 2007 11:15 AM

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