January 17, 2007

FITTING MEMORIALS:

The real healing begins for mother of Iris Chang (L.A. Chung, 1/17/07, San Jose Mercury)

Perhaps it is fate that makes 2007 different. Perhaps it is will. When her daughter, the shining, driven luminary Iris Chang, committed suicide in November 2004, Ying-Ying Chang plunged into a dark chasm of unrelenting grief. [...]

But in 2007, Ying-Ying Chang has emerged into the sunlight, into a confluence of events that have manifested Iris' spirit everywhere.

A new documentary, ``Nanking,'' initiated by AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis, makes its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week. [...]

Leonsis, an AOL executive and owner of the Washington Capitals hockey team, was inexplicably drawn to Chang's obituary buried deep inside the New York Times. Hungry for something to read aboard his yacht, Leonsis had bought 45 days' worth of outdated papers during a shore visit in the Caribbean.

Iris' story and her picture haunted him. When a maid tried to take the papers away, he stopped her, plucked the page from the trash, and looked up everything he could about Iris, John Rabe and the rape of Nanking.

"In Chinese, we think it is something like fate. . . . Some way, something provides that you meet this person, that you are bound to this person, somehow,'' said Ying Ying, who, with her husband, had dinner with Leonsis in Washington last year. "For some reason, he didn't know why, he couldn't forget about the obituary.''

Leonsis persuaded Oscar-winning filmmaker Bill Guttentag, who teaches at Stanford, to tell the story of Rabe and the dozen or so Westerners who risked their lives to create a safety zone to protect 250,000 Chinese.


Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2007 6:58 PM
Comments

The book is well worth reading, and Nanjing is well worth visiting.

They had, and possibly still do have, a travelling memorial dedicated to that. You enter and there under dim lights are actors on a dirt stage. One is dressed as a Japanese soldier with bloody bayonet smirking down at the victims, another is a lady laying on her back with blood on her abdomen, and then a small child sitting looking at her in grief.

They stay in that position for, I think, 30 minutes at a time, then a short intermission.

Posted by: Tom Wall at January 18, 2007 1:21 AM
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