Iris Chang The Movie

The Rape of Nanking


IRIS CHANG: The Rape of Nanking

IRIS CHANG: The Rape of Nanking is a feature-length documentary film about a young woman’s journey to bring one of the darkest chapters of history to light.

In July 1937 the Japanese Imperial Army, which already controlled a large section of northeastern China, launched an undeclared war against the Republic of China. Five months later, on December 13, its troops entered the capital city of Nanking and began raping and murdering its citizens in an orgy of violence that has few parallels in modern history.
Tens of thousands of Chinese prisoners-of-war were machine gunned en masse. An estimated 20,000 women were raped. Countless defenseless civilians; men, women and children were killed on the streets or in their homes. A British reporter who was on the scene compared the Japanese troops to Attila and the Huns. Writer George Will described the mass slaughter, which became known as “The Rape of Nanking” as “perhaps the most appalling single episode of barbarism in a century replete with horror.”
The Rape of Nanking was front page news when it happened but it was soon forgotten in the west, swept into the dustbin of history until 1994 when a young Chinese-American writer named Iris Chang saw photographs of the atrocities at a conference in Cupertino, California. Chang had an epiphany when she realized that those photographs captured the last second of a real person’s life and they were no longer anonymous corpses in a photograph. Chang, whose own grandparents had barely escaped the massacre, decided it was her responsibility to rescue this event from oblivion.
IRIS CHANG: The Rape of Nanking tells the story of Nanking through the eyes of Iris Chang. It begins at the conference in Cupertino, and retraces her journey as she researched and wrote her book.
Chang was deeply affected by her interviews with survivors of the massacre, and the film recreates her intense emotional experience by intertwining dramatic reenactments, with actress Olivia Cheng as Iris Chang, with the heartrending recollections of men and women who saw their families murdered in front of their eyes.
Her character, which drives the film’s narrative, is revealed through excerpts from her speeches and television appearances, along with interviews with friends, family and colleagues. As well as telling Chang’s personal story, the film uses chilling archival footage to supply the historical perspective necessary to understand what happened in Nanking.
The film, in addition to her research and writing of her book, follows the last seven years in Chang’s life in the wake of the publication of her book in1997, an unexpected best-seller which was highly-praised in the west, but which ignited a firestorm of controversy in Japan where many prominent people continue to this day to deny that the Japanese army committed war crimes during WWII. It goes on to recount how Chang, despite being vilified by the revisionists, continued to speak out on behalf of the victims of Japan’s wartime aggression until her untimely death due to suicide in November, 2004.

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Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking

Forgotten Holocaust

Post-WWII politics were a major reason why the Rape of Nanking became a “forgotten holocaust.” Chang’s book, appropriately subtitled The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, was the first major English language book about the massacre.

Dave Klotz – Composer

Dave Klotz is a Toronto born composer who has worked in almost every creative facet of the music business. He is a graduate of the York University music program, where he received a BFA degree with honors, specializing in ethnomusicology, composition and avant-garde electronic music.

Bill Spahic – Co-Director

Bill has worked in the film industry for over 20 years. During that time he worked as 1st Assistant Director on many Hollywood features and TV movies, collaborating with world-class directors Terry Gilliam and John Woo, and with renowned actors Keifer Sutherland, Lucy Lui, Rod Steiger, Brian Dennehey, and Jeff Bridges.

Michael Betcherman – Writer

Michael Betcherman is a Toronto-based writer with numerous credits in both documentary and drama. He was the creator/writer/producer/director of The Team, a documentary series about a college basketball team which was broadcast on CBC.