A new film, City of Life and Death (Nanjing! Nanjing!) about the Nanjing Massacre, will hit cinema screens on April 22.
The film's director Lu Chuan hopes it will help heal the old wounds of the city.
"Nanjing was a city with a scar," said Lu, who visited the city's memorial hall for the Nanjing Massacre 20 years ago.
The Nanjing Massacre took place in December 1937 after the Japanese army occupied Nanjing, the wartime capital of China.
More than 300,000 Chinese are believed to have been killed.
One third of the city's buildings were burned, and more than 20,000 women were raped in six weeks.
Lu spent over three years researching the massacre before shooting this film.
His film follows the fate of several ordinary people. Lu creates four Chinese characters.
They are an officer who resists to the last moment, a teacher who loses her own life to protect others, a prostitute who tries to help other women, and a secretary who tries his best to protect his family and compatriots.
"I want to tell the audience that our people were not cowards," Lu said. "To tell their story is a key reason for me to make the film."
From Japanese soldiers' diaries, Lu found they were also "ordinary people".
It was the war that turned them into killing machines, he said.
Few Chinese films about the massacre portray Japanese soldiers as human beings.
But Lu's film is a bit different, which arouses controversy .
In his film, there are times when Japanese soldiers share happy moments making a pot of tasty soup, and one young soldier even falls in love with a Chinese "comfort woman".
In the meantime, these soldiers are part of an army under strict rule and were expected to kill on demand.
Some people who watched the film share Lu's idea that "maybe I cannot make myself love the Japanese troops, but I can try to understand them".
However, a great number of the rest have been angered by his "soft" depiction of Japanese invaders.