Buyers at the Toronto Film Festival got their first look today at Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War, which previously was known as Heroes of Nanking. The true-life drama stars Christian Bale and is set against the backdrop of the 1937 Nanking Massacre, when Japan’s army overran China’s capital city. An American (Bale) trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation takes shelter in a church, joined by a group of schoolgirls and 13 courtesans, and helps lead the group to fight back. Zhang Weiping is producing and David Linde and Chaoying Deng are exec producing. About 20 minutes was shown to circling buyers and the press this morning, but it will be an interesting project to take on: The film is about 60% Mandarin-language and 40% in English. The film will have its world premiere in Beijing on Dec. 16. FilmNation Entertainment is handling international sales outside the U.S., China, and a few major Asian countries; North American rights will be licensed directly by New Pictures Films and producers Deng and Linde and Stephen Saltzman of Loeb & Loeb.

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