Grandson of Nanjing Massacre Documenter Films Modern Nanjing

By Ruth Wang, December 16, 2017 07:12 AM

Chris Magee, Grandson of John Magee, follows John Magee's footsteps in Nanjing(ScreenCapture)

December 2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre. In the last quarter of 2017, Chris Magee, grandson of John Magee (who risked his life in recording the 105 minutes of footage of the Japanese atrocities with a 16-mm camera eighty years ago), is following in his grandfather's footsteps and recording the new Nanjing.

On the morning of Nov 26, at the invitation of the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, Chris Magee shared the story behind his filming "Nanjing Today." Chris hoped the whole world could see his photos because they not only represent him and the Magee family, but Nanjing and China. 

The late John Magee was born to a lawyer's family in Oct 1884 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He went to school at Yale University, and then on to a divinity school in Massachusetts. In 1912, he was anointed as a pastor and went on an Episcopal mission to Nanjing, China.

In Nov 1937, the Japanese army began to surround Nanjing after the Shanghai occupation. At the time, many foreigners in Nanjing were evacuated. However, Reverend Magee, who had been performing missionary work in Nanjing for over 20 years, chose to stay disregarding the warning of the American Embassy. He then set up the Nanjing International Safety Zone with other missionaries, including John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin, and others. He was also the chairman of the Nanking Committee of the International Red Cross Organization.

The film he made with a 16-mm camera about the Nanjing Massacre is believed to be the only documentary about the horrible incident.

On August 15, Chris attended the award ceremony of the Zijin Grass International Commemorative Medal of Peace, and received a peace medal on behalf of his family. It was his first time in Nanjing.

He met with Xia Shuqin, a survivor of the Nanjing Massacre who appears in his grandfather's documentary.

Magee is a professional photographer and cinematographer, and the trip in August inspired him to shoot today's Nanjing. His project includes filming at the same locations his grandfather had filmed and showing a comparison with the changes.

He intended to complete the project in three stages in October, November, and December this year.

-Translated by Grace Hubl

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