Visas and Virtue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Visas and Virtue
One-sheet photography: Dennis Mukai
Directed byChris Tashima
Produced byChris Donahue
Tim Toyama
Written byChris Tashima
Tom Donaldson
Tim Toyama (play)
StarringChris Tashima
Susan Fukuda
Diana Georger
Lawrence Craig
Narrated byShizuko Hoshi
Music byScott Nagatani
CinematographyHiro Narita, A.S.C.
Edited byIrvin Paik
Release date
Running time
26 minutes
CountryUnited States

Visas and Virtue is a 1997 narrative short film inspired by the true story of Holocaust rescuer Chiune "Sempo" Sugihara, who is known as "The Japanese Schindler". Sugihara issued over 2,000 transit visas to Polish and Lithuanian Jews from his consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania, in August 1940, in defiance of his own government (Japan), thereby allowing an estimated 6,000 individuals to escape the impending Holocaust.


This film is a dramatization (docu-drama)[1] and contains fictional characters and events. It is not a documentary. It is based on an original one-act play by Tim Toyama, which was performed at The Road Theatre Company[2] in Los Angeles in 1995.[3] The play was then adapted by actor/director Chris Tashima in 1996, and completed as a 26-minute film in 1997. The film was produced by Cedar Grove Productions with Visual Communications serving as non-profit sponsor.[4]

Visas and Virtue won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in March, 1998 (70th Academy Awards). The Oscar statuettes went to actor and director Tashima and producer Chris Donahue.[5]


Haunted by the sight of hundreds of Jewish refugees outside the consulate gates, a Japanese diplomat and his wife, stationed in Kaunas, Lithuania, at the beginning of World War II, must decide how much they are willing to risk. Inspired by a true story, Visas and Virtue explores the moral and professional dilemmas that Consul General Chiune "Sempo" Sugihara faces in making a life or death decision: defy his own government's direct orders and risk his career, by issuing life-saving transit visas, or obey orders and turn his back on humanity.


  • Chris Tashima as Chiune "Sempo" Sugihara
  • Susan Fukuda as Yukiko Sugihara
  • Diana Georger as Helena Rosen
  • Lawrence Craig as Nathan Rosen
  • Shizuko Hoshi as Narrator

(In order of appearance)
Japan, 1985

  • Mitsushi Yamaguchi as Elderly Sempo
  • Kyoko Motoyama as Elderly Yuki

Lithuania, 1940

  • Colm Wood as Student #1
  • Eric Gugisch as German Officer
  • Alan H. Friedenthal as Refugee #1
  • Patricia Penn as Refugee #2
  • Richard Nakaoka, Weston Yanagihara as Sugihara Children
  • Linda Igarashi as Setsuko
  • Jimmy Paola as Student #2
  • Kimberly Mungovan as Sugihara Baby

Refugees at Interviews

  • Martin Fontana as Man
  • Noel Miller as Young Man
  • David Russ as Elderly Man
  • Maria Stanton as Wife
  • Jude Gerard Prest as Husband
  • Shauna Bloom as Woman
  • Gibson Frazier as Cantor
  • Jon Cellini, Jonathan Klein as Brothers
  • Pamela Tretter as Mother
  • Jack Newalu as Man at Train Station

Special Appearance

  • Hanni Vogelweid as Elderly Woman at Interview


(partial list)


External links[edit]