NGE picks up 'City of Life and Death'

Lu Chuan film is set during the Nanjing Massacre

National Geographic Entertainment has acquired North American rights to "City of Life and Death," produced, written and directed by Lu Chuan.

Set during the Japanese occupation of Nanjing, China, in 1937, "City" will screen at September's Toronto International Film Festival. It was released in April in China, where it has grossed nearly $26 million.

The film's cast includes Liu Ye, Fan Wei, Hideo Nakaizumi, Gao Yuanyuan, Qin Lan and Jiang Yiyan, and co-stars Ryuichi Kohata, Yao Di, Zhao Yisui and Yuko Miyamoto.

The acquisition reunites Lu with National Geographic, which co-distributed his "Moutain Patrol: Kekexili" with Samuel Goldwyn Films in 2006.

NGE will coordinate marketing of "City" with IDG China Media Fund, part of International Data Group, a U.S. venture capital company. The film will be released late this year or in early 2010.

"City" was produced by Han Sanping, Qin Hong, Zhou Li, John Chong and Andy Zhang, with Lu serving as exec producer.

"City" is the second major acquisition for NGE this year, following its pickup of Cherien Dabis' "Amreeka" out of Sundance. "Amreeka" begins its rollout in New York and Los Angeles on Sept. 4.