A poster of "Twenty Two"
Revenge not, lament not, but to live with enormous courage and hope. The 22 women who underwent grave humiliation as "comfort women" for Japanese soldiers some 80 years ago, revealed their traumatic memories in front of the cameras with peace and magnanimity.
The documentary "Twenty two", offering a full picture of the life of those women forced to become wartime sex slaves by invading soldiers during Chinese People's Resistance War against Japanese Aggression starting from 1931, has produced box office earnings of tens of millions of yuan since its low-key premiere on August 14, 2017.
Guo Ke, the director of the documentary, said he expected the viewers of the film would be able to reach 200,000, a figure roughly similar to the victims of the wartime sex slavery in China based on the released historical documents.
Some 70 years on from the end of the World War II, the number of the living victims had fallen to 22 just before the shooting of the documentary. However, only eight remained by the time the documentary was brought to the screen.
Right before the premiere of the film, Huang Youliang, one of the victims from Hainan Province, who once went to Japan to seek prosecution for the atrocious sex slavery crime committed by the Japanese militarists, passed away. At no time did she ever receive an apology let alone compensations from the Japanese government.
The documentary, composed simply by real-life scenes and interlocutions from the women and their acquaintances, brings the audience back to the painful period of history with no striking images nor sophisticated plot. With only one piece of music adopted at the end, the film, has still managed to move audiences with the simple, plain but emotive remarks of the women when they recalled their long misery.
"The great pain suffered by those victims represented by the 22 women shall never be buried in the sands of time," said one viewer named Yu Yu.
"The wound in history remains deep, but we chose to evade it. Had it not been for this documentary, the agonizing past would have muted and been lost with the passage of time," said, A Lang, chief editor of "Movie Weekly".
According to Guo, he got general impressions of those women from news coverage and websites and misinterpreted them as those who may have shed tears all day long and harbor severe animosity towards Japanese militarists.
However, when he met the women through interviews, he was unexpectedly impressed by their peaceful minds and undaunted hearts when they were unveiling the horrors of a devastating war.
Chen Lintao, the survivor from Shanxi Province, said in the film: "I hope China and Japan can keep good relations and wage no wars, because once war breaks out, it will claim a multitude of lives."
Meantime, Wei Shaolan, a survivor from Guangxi said: "The world is beautiful, so I need to live longer to appreciate it."
Su Zhiliang, a professor from Shanghai Normal University, said, the significance of "Twenty two" owes to the filmmakers' efforts to disclose the truth of the wartime sex slavery perpetrated by Japanese aggressors as well as its incisive reflection of war crimes, both of which made it great, despite being filmed without any dazzling visual technologies.
The record of the traumatic "comfort women" becomes a precious memoir of a critical moment in history. "Meanwhile, history, which seems to rumble far away from us, but has actually never left us. Therefore, we must do our duty to prevent wars from wrecking the world again," the professor said.