Lu Chuan’s ‘Nanking’ begins filming

Projects budget set for $12 million

Production began this week in Tianjin for Chinese helmer Lu Chuan’s ambitious “Nanking Nanking,” the latest pic to tackle the Nanjing Massacre in the lead-up to the controversial event’s 70th anniversary.

Budget is RMB 80 million ($12 million), with China Film Group, Stella Megamedia, Hong Kong’s Media Asia and Jiangsu Broadcasting co-producing the film.

Pic will be the third for Lu, who helmed the 2004 awardwinning pic “Kekexili: Mountain Patrol.” After four years of pre-production, “Nanking Nanking” boasts a large ensemble cast including Liu Ye, Gao Yuanyuan and Feng Wei, with veteran director Tian Zhuangzhuang (“The Blue Kite”) taking a guest role.

Pic is the latest in a series of movies being produced in China about the massacre. Hong Kong helmers Stanley Tong and Yim Ho are working on “The Diary” and “Nanking Xmas 1937,” respectively (Variety Asia, Aug. 3). Simon West is helming the U.S.- China-U.K. co-production “Purple Mountain,” while a project based on the life of John Rabe is in the works. (Variety Asia, Oct. 15).

Massacre remembrances kicked off this year with the Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturmanhelmed docu “Nanking” getting a boffo theatrical release in July. Movie, which preemed in Sundance, was co-produced with dominant Chinese pubcaster CCTV (Variety Asia, July 23).