Junichi Kajioka, an actor turned producer, turned director sheds light on a rather unknown aspect of Japanese and Jewish history, during WW2, concerning Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese acting consul in the then Lithuanian capital Kaunas and Tatsuo Osako, an official of Japan Tourist Bureau. Sugihara issued visas in defiance of the Japanese government to allow thousands of Jewish refugees to travel to Japan via the former Soviet Union, so they could escape from the Holocaust, and Osako repeatedly traveled across the Sea of Japan to help transfer these refugees to Japan. Furthermore, the documentary focuses on Akira Kitade, a man who has published a research named “Visas of Life and the Epic Journey — How the Sugihara Survivors Reached Japan,”…show more content… This mixture of testimonies from the victims' children, interviews with experts on the subject, actual footage from the time, including photographs and a sound recording with Osako's voice, and scenes from Kitade's travels has a very informative but also quite entertaining outcome. In this fashion, the documentary benefits the most by Kajioka's editing (along with his assistants, Gryff Bevan, Toshiya Chimura and Kenji Kitajima Oliveras), who presents the shuffling of the above parts in an elaborate way, which keeps the documentary flowing, without ever letting it become tiresome. The small length of the film (approx 24 minutes) also moves in this direction, as is stripped of any unnecessary details. Yasuhiko Fukuoka music accompanies the various scenes nicely, despite the fact that, in some moments, it becomes a bit too dramatic. Lastly, the ending, which concludes the documentary with a very optimistic note, puts a fitting conclusion to the subject.
"Sugihara Survivors: Jewish and Japanese, past and future" is a documentary worth seeing, for both its subject and its presentation.
The documentary had its European premiere at the Brundibár Arts Festival in Newcastle as a part of the Holocaust Memorial Day in the