Steve Buscemi and Daniel Bruehl (“Good Bye, Lenin”) have joined the cast of “John Rabe,” Florian Gallenberger’s true story about a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38.
Pic, which began shooting in Shanghai last week, boasts an international cast that includes France’s Anne Consigny, Chinese stars Lu Huang and Zhang Jingchu; as well as Japan’s Teruyuki Kagawa and Akira Emoto. German thesp Ulrich Tukur (“The Lives of Others”) portrays Rabe, who, as a Nazi party member and Siemens executive, was able to create a safety zone within the city to protect civilians from Japanese atrocities, which claimed the lives of an estimated 300,000 civilians.
Buscemi plays real-life American Dr. Robert Wilson, who remained in Nanjing during the occupation to care for legions of victims.
“John Rabe,” which is lensing on location in Shanghai and Nanjing, is produced by Misch Hofmann of Hofmann & Voges Entertainment, Benjamin Herrmann of Majestic Filmproduktion and EOS Entertainment’s Jan Mojto, in co-production with France’s Nicolas Traube/Pampa Prod. and Beijing- based Zhongjun Wang & Zhonglei Wang/Huayi Bros. in collaboration with German pubcaster ZDF.
Mojto’s Beta Cinema has international rights to the film, which will be released in Germany via Berlin-based Majestic Filmverleih late next year.
There are a growing number of projects on this subject, many of them based on Irish Chang’s stark history of the event, “The Rape of Nanking.”
Earlier this month, Chinese helmer Lu Chuan’s $12 million “Nanking, Nanking” began shooting in Tianjin, with China Film Group, Stella Megamedia, Hong Kong’s Media Asia and Jiangsu Broadcasting co-producing the project.
“Nanking, Nanking” includes a number of Chinese cinema’s biggest names, including Liu Ye, Gao Yuanyuan and Feng Wei, with veteran helmer Tian Zhuangzhuang (“The Blue Kite”) taking a guest role.
Hong Kong helmers Stanley Tong and Yim Ho are working on “The Diary” and “Nanking Xmas 1937,” respectively, while Simon West is helming the U.S.-China-U.K. co-production “Purple Mountain.”
Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman had a boffo run for their docu “Nanking” in July. Their film preemed in Sundance and was co-produced with dominant Chinese pubcaster CCTV.