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City of Life and Death

The story revolves around only a few characters, both Chinese and Japanese, who each play equally important roles in the narrative and whose arcs converge, run parallel or sometimes just barely touch. Young Japanese officer Kadokawa (Hideo Nakaizumi) has arrived in occupied Nanjing filled with goodwill and great intentions. Sadly, his untainted ideals are destined to succumb to the brutality he witnesses in his fellow soldiers. He crosses paths with the young General Lu (Liu Ye), the courageous leader of an untamed unit of Chinese guerrilla fighters. We also encounter Tang (Fan Wei), a man who clings to a deluded certainty that he will be safe, since he is the assistant of John Rabe (John Paisley), a Schindler-style German who saves many civilians by hosting them in the international war-free zone. Miss Jiang (Gao Yuanyuan) is a brave young teacher, while the careworn Yuriko (Yuko Miyamoto) is a hardened Japanese “comfort woman” with whom Kadokawa falls hopelessly in love. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]