Chinese filmmaker Feng Xiaogang’s latest production, Aftershock, which reflects the devastating earthquake in Tangshan in 1976, is to start screening on the mainland on July 22, according to distributor Huayi Brothers Media Corporation.

The feature was previously set to premiere on July 28, the 34th anniversary of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 240,000 people in the northern city of Tangshan.

Wang Zhonglei, president of the Huayi Brothers, gave no reason for the advance of the date as he announced it Monday at a press conference.

The film, with the tagline 23 seconds, 32 years, tells the story of a mother who had to make a choice between saving her daughter or her son during the 23 seconds in which the disaster ravaged the town.

The mother’s decision is said to have changed the fate of the whole family as the saved daughter suffered guilt for 32 years before her experience during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake finally set her free.

An 8-magnitude quake, believed to have surpassed the Tangshan quake in terms of intensity and scope of destruction, hit Sichuan’s Wenchuan County on May 12, 2008 and left 87,000 people dead or missing.

“What the film aims to express is the bond between mother and child and the relationship between family affection and greater love,” Feng said.

Though commercially successful with war epic Assembly (2007) and period love thriller The Banquet (2006), the prolific 52-year-old director is better known for his comedies such as Cell Phone (2003), A World Without Thieves (2004) and If You Are the One (2008).

The film, jointly produced by the Huayi Brothers, China Film Group and the municipal government of Tangshan, will be released in IMAX format. Its budget is around 150 million yuan ($22 million).

(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2010)

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