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A movie version of the true story of a wartime Japanese diplomat who saved 10,000 Jews from the gas chambers wrapped shooting in Poland on Friday with locations there doubling for Berlin, Moscow, Tokyo, New York and Bucharest.
Persona Non Grata is the story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who worked in Nazi wartime occupied Lithuania.
Sugihara, like Oscar Schindler, immortalized in Steven Spielberg‘s Schindler’s List in 1993, personally intervened to save the lives of over 10,000 Jews by issuing them illegal transit visas through Japan to Dutch colony, Curacao. Sugihara is the only Japanese Righteous Among the Nations, the top Israeli honor for those gentiles who risked their own lives to save Jews during the war.
The Polish Film Commission helped persuade producers of Tokyo’s Cine Bazar to shoot in the country. Warsaw’s Akson Studio, which recently producer war epic Warsaw 44 and Solidarity leader biopic, Walesa: Man of Hope was the film’s line producer.
Set between 1934 and 1955 in Europe, Asia and North America, the movie, directed by Cellin Gluck, was filmed entirely in Poland, mainly with Polish crews.
Exteriors and authentic buildings located in Berlin, Kaunas, Moscow, Tokyo and New York were reconstructed in Warsaw with the city’s Castle Square doubling for Moscow’s Red. Manchuria and scenes from concentration camp Dachau were recreated in Lower Silesia.
The lead role, Sugihara, is played by Toshiaki Karasawa, with his wife portrayed by Japanese actress Koyuki best known for her role in Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai.
Other roles are played by Poland’s Agnieszka Grochowska (Walesa: Man of Hope) and Borys Szyc (Snow White and Russian Red).
“The decision to locate the Japanese production in Poland was greatly influenced by the locations and resources of the Polish film industry presented to Cine Bazar,” a spokesman for the Polish Film Commission said.
The film is due for its international premiere is Tokyo later next year.
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