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In 84th Academy Awards, the film was selected as the best foreign language film though it never made to the final list. The film also was nominated for the sixty-ninth Golden Globe Awards. The Awards of sixth Asian film presented this film with several nominations including the Best Film. The distribution rights in North America were acquired which led to qualification to Oscar limited where it was released in Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2012.
In 1937, Japan invaded China, which led to beginning of the Second Sino War of Japan. The Imperial Japanese army overrun the Nanking the China’s capital city in December where they carried a systematic and brutal massacre in Nanking. The Chinese Army was overpowered by the invading Japanese Army, the desperate school-going girls fled to the protective walls of the convent at Western Roman Cathedral. At this place John Miller, who an American mortician was tasked with burying the priest met with the schoolgirls (Yan and Harman 55). He found a boy there by the name George, who was an orphan, rose by the dead priest and had some English proficiency. The boy was an age mate to most of the girls. After a short while a group of prostitutes came to the Cathedral, they took refuge where they hide in the cellar.
Miller pretended to be a priest and tried to make everyone safe as he repaired the convents truck and used it to escape. After an incident when the Japanese forces assaulted the cathedral, Japanese Colonel promised to secure the Cathedral by placing some guards outside the gate and requested the students to sing the chorale for him. He later gave Miller an official invitation for the girls to go and sing at the Japanese Army celebration for their victory, but he feared their safety he declined. The Colonel told Miler that it was an order and that they were to be picked
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