There are many heroes, both Japanese and Chinese, in Sumiko Haneda's deeply moving documentary, "Aa Manmo Kaitakudan (A Story of Manchurian Settler Communities)."

Set in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, which was created in 1932 in northeast China, the tragic theme of the film is the destruction of millions of lives in the 13 years before Manchukuo collapsed with Japan's World War II surrender in August 1945, and the years of suffering it brought in its wake.

One of those heroes is Chie Matsuda. After she and her husband arrived in the hinterland of the Japanese dependency as settlers, her husband — who she was never to see again — was drafted into the Kwantung Army, the Japanese military force based in the region to protect Japanese investments from attack by Chinese soldiers and partisans. In Fangzheng, some 180 km east of Harbin, her only child, a daughter, died; and she, abandoned by her country's military, had no choice but to remain where she was.