American photographer follows grandpa's footstep in recording Nanjing

Zhang Zhang China Plus Published: 2017-12-13 07:48:04
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Chris Magee attends the 2017 International Peace rally held in Nanjing on August 15, 2017. Chris Magee is shooting a film about the changes that have taken place in Nanjing over the past 80 years. [Photo: VCG]

Chris Magee attends the 2017 International Peace rally held in Nanjing on August 15, 2017. Chris Magee is shooting a film about the changes that have taken place in Nanjing over the past 80 years. [Photo: VCG]

Eight years ago, an American photographer followed in his grandfather's footsteps, travelling here to China to help document Japanese atrocities in Nanjing.

He's back once again, this time with a goal of creating a new film about the changes which have taken place in Nanjing over the past 80 years.

CRI's Gao Junya reports

As a professional photographer, Chris Magee was inspired to do his new film project when he came to Nanjing in August for this year's Zijin Grass International Commemorative Medal of Peace award ceremony.

"I've spoken mainly to my friends and family about this. And the family is very supportive of course, and the friends are too. My friends on social media are very excited. I got more likes for posting about the Nanjing visit than any other thing I've ever posted on social media."

Magee's grandfather, John Magee, was an American missionary working in China.

He was critical in helping save thousands of lives through the creation of the Nanjing Safety Zone with a group of other foreigners just ahead of the Japanese breakthrough into the former Chinese capital 80 years ago today.

But John Magee is also known for the films and pictures he shot during the Nanjing Massacre, then managed to smuggle out of China to inform the world about one of the worst atrocities in modern times.

Now, Chris Magee's new film project is hoping to capture the contrasting views of specific places in Nanjing, not only to review history, but show how things have changed in the city over the past 80 years.

The filming is being done in three phases.

In October, Magee took photos of buildings that were taken by his grandfather, including Yijiang Gate, Gulou Hospital, Jiangnan Cement Factory, Qixia Temple, and Nanjing Normal University.

"Two places impressed me. One was to visit my grandfather's school and to go to the family home that my father and my uncles were raised in, No. 12 Middle School. [The other one is] this memorial hall, you will wonder how you can make a memorial to a massacre and how to make it a really beautiful place that not only educates but inspires, so I really mean that very sincerely."

The second phase kicked off late last month, with Magee mainly focusing on the area which became the Nanjing Safety Zone.

Magee's filming there included a stop at the former headquarters of the International Committee which established the Safety Zone.

The third phase of the project is scheduled to start later this month, which will see Magee document some of the current landmarks of the city.

Magee is also planning to publish a photo album, which he intends to display at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.

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