Movie focused on “Japanese Schindler” who saved 6,000 lives will debut January 31, 2016.
At a time when the attention of the world is concentrated on the problems of refugees from Iraq and Syria, a film is getting made on Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat. He risked his career and his life to save a large number of Jewish refugees at the time of the Second World War.
Chiune Sugihara was posted at the Japanese consulate in Lithuania, at Kaunas town during early days of the Second World War. He, along with his wife, spent long hours, including nights to issue at least 2,000 visas to Jewish refugees from July 31 to August 28, 1940. The Nazis were advancing and the refugees were desperately trying to get out of the country-and to rebuild anew their lives in Japan. The diplomat, while issuing those visas, defied his own government's orders.
The biopic film has been given the name Persona Non Grata. It focuses on the courageous actions taken by Sugihara. The film is all set to make its debut on January 31 in the United States during Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. It is directed by Cellin Gluck, a Japanese American known for his earlier films like Transformers, Contact and Remember the Titans. The filming of Persona Non Grata took place in Poland. Toshiaki Karasawa, the noted Japanese actor, has played Sugihara.
Sugihara's actions saved in excess of 6,000 lives. A majority of the documents were written in a hectic five-week long period, even passing documents out of the train window post the closing of the consulate, when ordered to leave the country.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles said that Sugihara is a proof that a single person's choice to do the correct thing in a time of evil -regardless of consequences- could make a noticeable difference. Incidentally, although Sugihara is relatively unknown in Japan, he is regarded as a figure fit to be emulated in Israel and a number of other countries. This will change as a Japanese government advisory panel recommended in December, 2015 that all documents linked to Sugihara be given to Memory of the World Register set up by UNESCO. The register is a compendium of important historical documents.
Sugihara's legacy will be shown via an exhibition in Tokyo in January. Documents of Anne Frank, a victim of the Holocaust will also be exhibited. A majority of refugees aided by the diplomat traveled first to Japan, and then onwards to China and the U.S.A.