Fri, Jul 06, 2007 - Page 17 News List

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The team behind documentary Nanking talk to the audience at the film's premiere in Beijing.

PHOTO: AP

The film Emma's Bliss by German director Sven Toddicken won the US$30,000 Grand Prize at the 2007 Taipei Film Festival last Friday.

A representative from the German Cultural Center received the award on behalf of Toddicken as the director could not attend the award-presenting ceremony.

"I was working on my film scripts when I was told I had won the prize. Though I cannot go to Taipei, I will celebrate it with some friends in a Berlin bar. I hope the Taiwan audience like my film," Toddicken told the film festival's organizer by phone.

Emma's Bliss is about the loneliness of a pig farmer, Emma, in Mexico. The jury lauded the film for portraying Emma's character and bringing the audience into Emma's inner world.

Pure Hearts by Denmark's director Kenneth Kainz and Don't Look Back by South Korean director Kim Young-nam won the Audience's Choice Prize and Jury' Prize.

The 9th Taipei Film Festival opened on June 22. Nearly 200 films from around the world were screened during the festival and a dozen were nominated for the New Talent Award section, which was open to foreign films.

Far from opening old wounds, Nanking (南京), a film documenting accounts of war-time atrocities by Japanese troops in China, should help the frosty Asian neighbors overcome historical differences, the filmmakers say.

"Predominantly, this is an anti-war movie, not an anti-Japanese movie," the movie's producer and AOL vice-chairman Ted Leonsis said in an interview on Wednesday, a day after the film's Beijing premiere.

"My ultimate goal was to make a film that activated a lot of discussion ... that these activities happened 70 years ago - that two great countries and two great people - they should acknowledge what happened and they should move on together in friendship," Leonsis said at a press conference.

US-made Nanking is one of a clutch of movies about the Nanjing Massacre to be released this year in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the fall of China's war-time capital to invading Japanese troops on Dec. 13, 1937.

Described as a Schindler's List-style movie about Westerners setting up a safe zone for refugees in the war-torn city, the film weaves grainy images of stacked bodies of infants with tearful accounts of rape and torture committed by Japanese soldiers from Chinese witnesses.

Hollywood actors, including Woody Harrelson and Mariel Hemingway, do staged readings of diary entries kept by the Westerners in the safe zone, and retired Japanese troops confess to participating in mass killings.

China says Japanese troops slaughtered 300,000 civilians in Nanjing. An Allied tribunal after World War II put the death toll at about 142,000. Some Japanese historians say the numbers are exaggerated, estimating as few as 20,000 soldiers and civilians were killed.

Other testy neighborly relations have put paid to Oliver Stone's planned documentary on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Middle Eastern leader has rejected a proposal by American the Oscar winning movie director to make a film about him because Stone is part the "Great Satan'' cultural establishment, a semiofficial news agency reported.

"I sent a negative answer by Ahmadinejad to Oliver Stone,'' the Fars agency quoted Mehdi Kalhor, media adviser to the president, as saying Sunday. "It is right that this person is considered part of the opposition in the US, but opposition in the US is a part of the Great Satan.'' The term the "Great Satan'' dates back to Iran's late supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who first called the US the Great Satan after 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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