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West climbs Nanking ‘Mountain’

Production begins on another Nanking film

NANJING, China — Lensing is under way on the latest pic to deal with the Nanking massacre, a $51 million U.S.-Chinese-Anglo co-production called “Purple Mountain,” the Chinese producers said this week.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, now called Nanjing. China says 300,000 Chinese people were slaughtered by invading Japanese soldiers in the city; the 1948 Tokyo war crimes tribunal found Japanese troops killed 155,000 people.

Like the “Nanking!” documentary currently causing a stir in China, helmer Simon West’s “Purple Mountain” is adapted from Iris Chang’s international bestseller, “The Rape of Nanking.”

Pic depicts the atrocities that followed the Japanese occupation of the city through the eyes of a middle-class Chinese mother and her daughter.

West said he hoped it would have an impact on audiences similar to that of Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust film “Schindler’s List.”

Gerald Green’s Viridian Entertainment was slated to co-produce with the state-owned Jiangsu Cultural Industry Group but Li Xiangmin, the Chinese producer, told the Xinhua news agency that Viridian had not come up with the agreed $20 million and the Chinese switched to Omega Entertainment instead.

Shooting started at Nanjing’s Pukou Railway Station and is scheduled to be completed this year for a worldwide release, its producers said. They have yet to reveal who will star in the movie.

The Chinese government is keen that any movies about Nanjing’s past serve nationalist interests, while also doing nothing to irk Japan, on whose trade it is reliant.

At the same time, the Rape of Nanking is a hugely important event in the Chinese collective psyche and Beijing wants to make sure it isn’t forgotten.

State-backed companies are involved in all of the raft of productions about the incident.

Hong Kong helmer Yim Ho had problems getting his script through for “Nanking Xmas 1937,” which, like many other projects, focuses on foreigners’ efforts to shelter Chinese from the Japanese. With its $35 million budget it could do business abroad.

China Film Group and Jiangsu Broadcasting are reported to have boarded Lu Chuan’s “Nanking! Nanking!” as co-financiers.

The $12 million film also has financing from Hong Kong-based Media Asia and Beijing’s Stellar Media. Lu went through five months of wrangling to get approval for the script.

Hong Kong director Stanley Tong, best known for his work on action movies with Jackie Chan, is working on “The Diary,” due to be released by the Dec. 13 anniversary of the invasion.

Tong said the $40 million project, by his China Intl. Media Group, has received approval from Chinese film authorities and adds that coin is coming from Germany, the U.S., Japan and China.

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