'Nanking' Documentary Rights Sold at Sundance

By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 23, 2007; 6:54 PM

AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis announced today from the Sundance Film Festival in Utah that he has sold the international rights -- excluding China -- to his documentary film "Nanking" to Fortissimo Films.

"Nanking," directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, chronicles the 1937 slaughter of more than 300,000 Chinese citizens by the Imperial Japanese Army. The film's Chinese rights have already been sold to CCTV, the Chinese national television network.

The documentary also tells the story of a group of Westerners, including a Nazi businessman and an American missionary, who helped save 200,000 lives by creating a safe zone in the former Chinese capital.

Leonsis spent $2 million to produce the film, which was inspired by the bestselling 1997 book "The Rape of Nanking," by Iris Chang.

"I am thrilled that Fortissimo has come on board," Leonsis said in a statement today. "I have been very impressed with how well [Fortissimo] presented several great documentaries which they acquired at Sundance."

Fortissimo has a record of distributing well-regarded documentaries, including "Supersize Me," "Capturing the Friedmans" and "Mad Hot Ballroom."

Nanking is told through interviews with Chinese survivors, archival footage and testimonies of Japanese soldiers, interwoven with filmed narrations of the Westerners' letters and diaries featuring Jurgen Prochnow, Woody Harrelson and Mariel Hemingway.

Creative Artists Agency represented Leonsis; Wouter Barendrecht and Winnie Lau negotiated on behalf of Fortissimo.

Leonsis is still in negotiations for the U.S. distribution rights to the film.

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