National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) has swooped on North American rights to Lu Chuan’s Chinese hit City Of Life And Death.

The film will screen at Toronto following a $26m run in China and charts the civilian and military defiance of the Japanese during the Nanking massacre in the late 1930s.

NGE will reunite with Chuan after they collaborated on the North American release of his film Mountain Patrol: Kekexili and is lining up a late 2009 or 2010 release, co-ordinating the marketing with IDG China Media Fund, a US venture capital company that belongs to International Data Group.

Adam Leipzig, president of National Geographic Films, pursued the film after he saw it in Cannes, describing it as “one of the most memorable war films ever made.” An Oscar campaign may be in the works for several categories.

Liu Ye, Fan Wei, Hideo Nakaizumi, Gao Yuanyuan, Qin Lan and Jiang Yiyan star in the project by Chuan Production, Beijing Film Studio, CFGC, Stellar Megamedia, Jiang Su Broadcasting, Media Asia Films and Shanghai Bailiang Investment.

This is the second major acquisition for NGE this year after Cherien Dabis’ Sundance comedy hit Amreeka,which launch in New York and Los Angeles on September 4.

NGE’s Tiffany Leclere and Kattie Evans handled negotiations with Ricky Tse for Media Asia, Jonah Greenberg for CAA, and Hugo Shong and Ted Perkins for IDG Media International.