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Thursday, December 03, 2015, 18:30 - 21:30

The story of the "Japanese Schindler" - a diplomat defies orders, and saves thousands of lives
Sneak Preview Screening: "PERSONA NON GRATA (Sugihara Chiune) "
featuring a Q&A with director Cellin Gluck (Q&A in English)

Thursday, December 3 at 6:30 pm*12032015 Sugihara Chiune 356
*Please note early start time.
In English and Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2015 139 minutes   

Directed by: Cellin Gluck
Written by: Tetsuro Kamata, Hiromichi Matsuo
Produced by: Nobuyuki Iinuma, Kazutoshi Wadakura
Toshiaki Karasawa, Koyuki, Borys Szyc, Agnieszka Grochowska,
Michał Żurawski, Cezary Łukaszewicz, Takashi Tsukamoto,
Gaku Hamada, Satoshi Nikaido, Itsuji Itao,
Kenichi Takitoh, Ryo Ishibashi, Fumiyo Kohinata

Film courtesy of Nippon TV

Is there a place for the brave individual in Japan, committing a selfless act against injustice and intolerance in the face of certain dismissal or worse? That question is at the heart Cellin Gluck's ("Saidoweizu," "Oba: The Last Samurai") new film, "Persona Non Grata," which shines a revealing and deeply empathetic light on the actions of one Chiune Sugihara, Japanese consul in Kaunas, Lithuania from 1939-40, as war was breaking out in Europe.

The world now knows Sugihara as the "Japanese Schindler," after Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved close to 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by hiring them to work at his factories. But very few know Sugihara's backstory, and it is impressively limned in the film. A multilingual diplomat who had studied in Harbin, built a vast espionage network in Manchuria and provided critical intelligence to his superiors in the Foreign Ministry, Sugihara had also been declared "persona non grata" in 1937 by Russia and forbidden entry to the country, as punishment for his negotiations in Japan's acquisition of a highly strategic branch of the North Manchurian Railroad (which was later used to solidify the puppet state of Manchukuo).

Barred from Soviet territories, Chiune Sugihara (Karasawa) thus arrives in Kaunas in August 1939, just days before the German Army advances into Poland, inciting World War II. By July 1940, with the Nazis on Lithuania's border, hordes of Jewish refugees have begun camping out in front of the Japanese Consulate, desperately hoping for visas to safety. But transit visas can only be issued to those with legitimate visas onward from Japan, and the means to provide for themselves throughout the journey. After receiving a firm "No" to his cable to Tokyo, Sugihara decides he must take matters into his own hands. Abetted by his driver, Polish spy Pesch (Szyc), and several other brave men of conscience, including acting Dutch Consul Jan Zwartendijk (Wenanty Nosul), Sughiara begins writing out visas via Japan to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. In the end, he issues over 2,000 of them and saves the lives of at least triple that many Jews.

In his 1983 memoir, Sugihara wrote, "I could have refused to issue [the visas], but would that, in the end, have truly been in Japan's national interest? I came to the conclusion, after racking my brain, that the spirit of humane and charitable action takes precedence above all else." The Japanese government didn't really come around to his way of thinking until well after Sugihara's death in 1986. Japan has now submitted his name as a candidate for UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

Please join us for this opportunity to celebrate Chiune Sugihara's historic act of defiance before "Persona Non Grata" opens across Japan on December 5.

For trailer (in Japanese):

Los Angeles-based director CELLIN GLUCK appeared at FCCJ with his 2009 debut film "Saidoweizu" and his 2011 "Oba: The Last Samurai." Cellin grew up in Wakayama Prefecture and began his film career with Ridley Scott's 1989 "Black Rain." While he specializes in producing/directing US-Japan co-productions, he continues to work as an assistant director on Hollywood productions such as Robert Zemeckis' "Contact" (1997), Boaz Yakin's "Remember the Titans" (2000) and Michael Bay's 2007 "Transformers," and as production manager on films like "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005) and "Godzilla" (2014). He also directed US segments for Shinji Higuchi's "Lorelei" (2005) and the "20th Century Boys" trilogy (2008-2009) by Yukihiko Tsutsumi.

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.

- Karen Severns, Film Committee

12032015 Sugihara Chiune 290p.jpg
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