Another award-winner confronting past history

WHEN the Eastbourne Film Society screened the Polish film Katyn last year it was the most popular film in their 2009/10 season despite the fact that it dealt with grim and tragic events during the Second World War.

Next Wednesday, February 9, the Society presents a film from China which, while dealing with what happened in Nanking in December 1937, has much in common with the Polish film.

City of Life and Death is concerned with what took place when Japanese troops took over the city then known as Nanjing.

Although the Japanese authorities are still in denial about it, it would appear that as many as 300,000 people died and the horrors of that situation extended to children being raped and female prisoners being forced to act as prostitutes for the Japanese soldiers.

City of Life and Death is the work of Lu Chuan, a director with a brilliant eye for images whose earlier film Mountain Patrol was also shown by the society.

It would have been understandable had he, as a Chinese film-maker, made this into a movie designed simply to show up the Japanese, but Lu Chuan is a humanitarian and his film is an anti-war piece.

Without pulling its punches, it shows sympathy for those Japanese soldiers who were acting under orders.

Like Katyn, this is not a film that one would describe as an entertainment.

But it is an award-winning picture which confronts past history to remind us of truths which we forget at our peril.

As usual seats will be available for the general public.