San Francisco Screening of ‘Persona Non Grata’

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Toshiaki Karasawa and Koyuki as Chiune and Yukiko Sugihara in a scene from “Persona Non Grata.”

Toshiaki Karasawa and Koyuki as Chiune and Yukiko Sugihara in a scene from “Persona Non Grata.”

SAN FRANCISCO — Join the Nichi Bei Foundation at the San Francisco premiere screening of “Persona Non Grata” (2015, 2 hours, 19 minutes), a new feature film on “Japanese Schindler” Chiune Sugihara, who helped to save some 6,000 Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution.

Screenings will take place on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 1:30 and 5 p.m. at New People Cinema, 1746 Post St. in San Francisco Japantown.

For the 1:30 p.m. screening, admission is $20 general, $15 for students and Nichi Bei Foundation members.

For the 5 p.m. benefit screening, admission is $50. With Fox 2 reporter Jana Katsuyama serving as moderator, special guests for the post-film discussion will include director Cellin Gluck and Madoka Sugihara, granddaughter of Chiune Sugihara. Recipients of Sugihara’s transit visas have been invited. The reception will include a silent auction, food, wine and sake, and entertainment by the Murasaki Ensemble Trio.

Seating is limited; order early. For more information, go to www.nichibei.org/persona-non-grata/.

About the Film

During the dark days of war, a compassionate Japanese diplomat served as a beacon of light for some 6,000 Jewish refugees escaping certain death at the hands of Nazi Germany, daring to defy his own government and following his own convictions. It is estimated that around 40,000 descendants of the Jewish refugees are alive today because of his actions.

Director Cellin Gluck

Director Cellin Gluck

But why did Chiune Sugihara put not only himself but also his family in danger? Why did he issue visas to Jewish refugees of his own volition without the permission of the Japanese government? Now, more than 70 years after the end of World War II, the dramatic truth behind this decision comes to the big screen.

In the title role Sugihara, a diplomat concerned about the future of Japan, is Toshiaki Karasawa, one of the country’s leading actors, who was twice nominated for the Japan Academy Awards and was named Best Newcomer in 1992. Koyuki, known to international audiences from “The Last Samurai” (2003), stars as Yukiko, Sugihara’s wife, who supports and brings him peace of mind throughout his journey.

Bringing together an international team from Japan, Poland, and Hollywood was “Persona Non Grata” director Gluck, who grew up in Wakayama Prefecture and began his film career with Ridley Scott’s “Black Rain” (1989). While he specializes in producing/directing U.S.-Japan co-productions, he has worked as an assistant director on Hollywood productions, such as Michael Bay’s “Transformers” (2007), Boaz Yakin’s “Remember the Titans” (2000), and Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact” (1997) and production manager on films like “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005) and “Godzilla” (2014).

He also directed U.S. segments for Shinji Higuchi’s “Lorelei” (2005), Hideyuki Hirayama’s “Oba: The Last Samurai” (2011), and the “20th Century Boys” trilogy (2008-2009) by Yukihiko Tsutsumi. In 2009, he made his debut as a film director with “Sideways” (2009). “Persona Non Grata” is his second feature film.

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