SPOTLIGHT COMING ATTRACTION; ACADEMY AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR CHRIS TASHIMA, with showing of his Academy Award film ‘VISAS AND VIRTUE,’ IN FREEHOLD SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 18TH 2 PM by Calvin Schwartz
If you’ve been reading my musings and explorations over the past five years (that long already!), often themed subliminally or rather directly, is the notion to extricate/elevate yourself from the sedentary sofa and discover your local (county/state) world and take advantage of the myriad of mind expanding cultural offerings. It’s endless. When something of value crosses my desk, I’m quite responsive to share it here on njdiscover.com. Sometimes (like right now) I’m in disbelief at the quality of enlightenment being presented. Maybe I’m old school (and I am) but a program such as what I’m writing about here, should be filling up arenas and college gyms.
What we have here is a hugely special program (film) with a presentation by Academy Award winning director (for the film being shown, ‘Visas and Virtue’) Chris Tashima, who also acts in the film. Tashima won that Academy Award for Live Action Short Film with producer Chris Donahue, for ‘Visas and Virtue’ in 1997 which he directed, co-wrote (adapting the one-act play by Toyama), and starred in.
To produce ‘Visas and Virtue’, he co-founded Cedar Grove Productions in 1996, with Toyama and Donahue. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch, and belongs to the Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. He is also an accomplished stage set designer.
Now to the film being shown on Sunday September 18th at 2 PM at The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in Freehold with Chris Tashima. Admission is $10 non-members, $8 members. There will be a Question & Answer session after the film screening. For more information or to make a paid reservation (non-refundable), call the Museum at 732-252-6990, or visit www.jhmomc.org.
‘Visas and Virtue’ tells the story of Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara, who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped 6,000 Jews to leave Lithuania by issuing transit visas so that they could travel to Japanese territory, risking his career and his life (and family’s life.) The Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland and Russian-occupied Eastern Poland, as well as residents of Lithuania. In 1985, Israel named him to the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions, the only Japanese national to be so honored. Sugihara was too ill to travel to Israel, so his wife and youngest son Nobuki accepted the honor on his behalf. Sugihara and his descendants were given perpetual Israeli citizenship.
On a personal note (and synchronistic), I was in Israel three weeks ago, at Yad Vashem, and learned about Sugihara’s great deeds and his being named to the Righteous Among the Nations. I never knew about him before. And now I’m about to see Chris Tashima and his film, ‘Visas and Virtue’ on Sugihara. Purist synchronicity.
When asked why he risked so much, Sugihara explained that the refugees were human beings, and that they simply needed help. “You want to know about my motivation, don’t you? Well. It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He just cannot help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes, Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes.” Sugihara died in 1986.
Tashima also directed, co-wrote and starred in the award-winning short film, “Day of Independence,” which depicts the life of Japanese Americans imprisoned in internment camps during World War II. He has appeared in numerous independent feature films, most recently “Under the Blood Red Sun,” a screen adaptation of the award-winning young adult novel by Graham Salisbury.
Hopefully, there’s been sufficient energy generated in the above paragraphs about Chris Tashima to help provide the impetus and sofa lift-off to bring you to Freehold next Sunday and get that chance to absorb his unique aura of accomplishment.
by Calvin Schwartz 9-9-16
Sunday September 18th at 2 PM at The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in Freehold with Chris Tashima. Admission is $10 non-members, $8 members. There will be a Question & Answer session after the film screening. For more information or to make a paid reservation (non-refundable), call the Museum at 732-252-6990, or visit www.jhmomc.org.
‘VISAS AND VIRTUE’ film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXJ0SQJpGyQ