the film: about the film
In the fall of 1939, Hitler's murderous wave was sweeping through Eastern Europe. In the face of the Nazi onslaught, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara set about saving thousands of lives. But his struggle was not fought on the battlefields or in war rooms. He used his power as a diplomat to rescue fleeing Jewish refugees.
As Japan's consul to Lithuania, Sugihara risked career, disgrace, his life, and the lives of his family defying Tokyo by writing transit visas for refugees desperate to escape persecution. In August 1940, Sugihara spent upwards of sixteen hours a day issuing visas, until Soviet-occupied Lithuania forced the final shutdown of the country's last remaining consulates. In the end, more than 2,000 Sugihara-stamped passports allowed hundreds of families to flee Europe through Russia to safe havens abroad. Today it is estimated that more than 40,000 people owe their very existence to Sugihara's heroic acts of humanitarianism.
Through unprecedented access to Sugihara's family and their personal home movies, photos, and papers, as well as on-location interviews with Sugihara survivors and their descendants, viewers will have a chance to rediscover the seminal events of World War II through a new lens — and in the process, come to appreciate the life and legacy of one man who did make a difference.
Sugihara is the definitive telling of this moving story and a monument to a true hero — a man who, with no possible hope of reward and every likelihood of suffering, had the courage to act on his innermost beliefs, to save the lives of thousands. His extraordinary acts of kindness continue to reverberate the world over.
Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness is a film by diane estelle Vicari and Robert Kirk. Presented by Dentsu Inc., in association with David Rubinson and Creative Production Group LLC. Funding provided by the Freeman Foundation, the US Japan Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, Janet and Mitchell Feldman, Rita and Larry Horn, the Fishoff Family Foundation, Dentsu Inc., and Creative Production Group LLC. Additional funding provided by public television viewers.