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City of Life and Death, a director's odyssey
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A still from 'City of Life and Death'

A still from "City of Life and Death" 

Nakaizumi said he decided to take the role after a long talk with Lu. "He told me that even though it (Nanjing massacre) is a taboo in Japan, this movie focuses more on the emotions and mentality of human beings in war."

Despite reports saying that some Japanese actors, who played Japanese soldiers in Chinese movies, had undergone fierce attacks and even death threats back in Japan, Nakaizumi said he did not worry about his future and his friends and families all showed their support.

"I hope more people could watch the movie," he said, when asked whether he thought there would be any possibility for a theatrical release of the movie in Japan.

In contrast to his cautiousness, director Lu was outspoken and confident.

"We must get the movie screened in Japan," he said.

"We are contacting Japanese distributors through some friends. It's difficult. No one dares to buy (a copy)," he said frankly.

"But I think this is a movie that Japanese people could sit through. We will get it screened in Japan, even if we have to give it to the Japanese distributors for free," he said.

"As a matter of fact, I hope the movie could be screened not only in Japan but also around the world," he said.

Logan from Weinstein Company expressed an interest in distributing the movie in North America. But he admitted it would be hard to get the mainstream American audience to see the film.

"It is not because of the film's merits but because the U.S. theatrical market is tough," he said.

Big Hollywood blockbusters fill up the theatres, and its very hard for foreign language art house films to get any kind of release, he said.

"But if we were allowed to release the film in North America, we would give it the kind of prestige release it deserves, playing to an audience of cineastes and screening the film in venues where it will be best appreciated," he said.

At Thursday's premier in Beijing, Lu burst into tears after watching a video footage in which his father congratulated him on the completion of the movie.

"My heart was in pain and darkness. It was like in hell," Lu told Xinhua, recalling his four-year odyssey.

"My next movie might be a light-hearted one. Life has so many facets. I don't want to be immersed in pain and misery all my life," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 22, 2009)

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