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The Girl and The Picture
by Karen Pecota

..."When the Survivors are gone, who tells their story?”...

One of the last known survivors of the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, today, is 88-year-old, Madame Xia (Xia Shuquin). Filmmaker Vanessa Roth documents a portion of life and legacy of Madame Xia in The Girl and The Picture, as a testimonial of survival from horrific world events and to make sure these atrocities of the past are not forgotten. Generations to come need to understand the horrific tragedies from massacres; Roth hopes upon reflection that future generations will see the need to do their part, so similar carnages are not repeated.

The USC Shoah Foundation, founded by filmmaker Steven Spielberg, to record eyewitness testimonies of the Holocaust and other genocides is the proud sponsor of The Girl and The Picture, in support of the power of voice and story.

Madame Xia's story has been well-documented over the years by many media outlets, archivists, and journalists. However, the first documentation of her story began two weeks after the massacre when she was visited by John Magee, an American Missionary to China. Shocked by the devastation he witnessed and knowing the world must see the horrific aftermath from the massacre, Magee used his 16mm camera to record and document what he observed. Magee came upon many survivors who were shell-shocked, hungry, frightened and lost.

Eight-year-old Xia Shuquin and her sister were among the first he filmed just after they experienced the annihilation of their entire family. From that day forward, the two orphaned siblings and the Magee family formed a unique bond that has tied the families together for life.

It was the images Magee used of the siblings tragedy to put a face on human suffering in the world from the Nanjing Massacre in 1937.

Magee sent his films, including the images of eight-year-old Xia Shuquin, to Life Magazine, to the U.S. film division and to governments around the world. His documentation was screened at the first international war tribunal for crimes against humanity.

Roth's narrative reunites the direct descendants of Madame Xia and John Magee to shed light on the power of memory to educate, connect and create a shared legacy of family, loss and survival. This portion of Xia's untold story Roth found attractive--the value she placed to pass personal testimony down to family from generation to generations.