Liu previously starred in Zhang Yimou's Curse Of The Golden Flower and Chen Kaige's The Promise, while Gao is best known for her performance in Wang Xiaoshuai's Shanghai Dreams. Lu previously directed Missing Gun and Kekexili: Mountain Patrol which were both distributed by Sony.
Co-financed by China Film Group, Stellar Megamedia, Jiangsu Broadcasting and Hong Kong 's Media Asia, the $12m Nanking ! Nanking ! is shooting on the site of the 'September 18 Incident' during which Japanese troops invaded north-east China 76 years ago.
The film features two story lines which look at the 1937 Nanking massacre from a Japanese soldier and a Chinese soldier's point-of-view. Liu will portray a Chinese soldier witnessing the incident, while Gao plays a visiting teacher who tries to rescue people during the large-scale slaughter of civilians. Shooting is expected to last four months.
Nanking ! Nanking ! is the second film on the Nanking massacre to start shooting so far this year. In August, Switzerland-based Omega Entertainment and Jiangsu Province Cultural Industry Group announced the start of production of Purple Mountain , directed by Simon West.
As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1937 incident, more projects on the subject are in the pipeline. Local Chinese media last week reported that Zhang Yimou plans to adapt Yan Geling's novel 13 Girls From Jinling into a movie, after he finishes directing the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Yan's novel tells the story of 13 prostitutes who sacrificed their lives to rescue soldiers during the incident. Zhang's Beijing New Picture Films and long-term producing partner Edko Films declined to comment on the reports.
Meanwhile, Beijing-based Huayi Brothers has been preparing a Chinese-German co-production based on the diary of John Rabe, a Nazi businessman who sheltered hundreds of Chinese during the massacre. In June, Hong Kong director Yim Ho also announced a project, Nanking Xmas 1937 , about the foreigners who protected the Chinese from Japanese brutality.