LONDON — Japanese historical drama “Persona Non Grata” has wrapped after shooting entirely in Poland, with Polish cities used as stand-ins for Berlin, Moscow, Tokyo, New York, Bucharest, and Kaunas and Klaipeda in Lithuania.
The film, which is produced by Tokyo-based Cine Bazar, centers on Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat working in Lithuania, who during World War II saved over 10,000 Jewish people, issuing them with transit visas through Japan to Curacao in the Caribbean.
The film is set in the period from 1934 until 1955, in Europe, Asia and North America. It was filmed entirely in Poland, mainly with Polish crew. Polish company Akson Studio, which recently produced epic war drama “Warsaw 44” and “Walesa: Man of Hope,” a biopic about the Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, was the line producer.
“Persona Non Grata” is directed by Cellin Gluck and features an international cast, composed of Japanese, Polish, French and Russian actors. Chiune Sugihara is played by Japanese actor Toshiaki Karasawa, while Koyuki — known mainly for the main female part in “The Last Samurai” — plays Sugihara’s wife. Agnieszka Grochowska (“Walesa: Man of Hope”) plays a Russian woman, Irina, the diplomat’s first big love, who had a great impact on his work. Borys Szyc (“Snow White and Russian Red,” “The Mole”) plays a Polish officer who establishes contact with the Japanese diplomat.
The film will premiere in Tokyo in the second half of 2015.
The pic’s shoot took 41 days, plus 15 days for the second unit. The exterior locations and buildings located in Berlin, Kaunas, Moscow, Tokyo and New York were recreated in Warsaw. Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square) played Red Square in Moscow. Fields next to Liwiec River doubled for Israel. The Manchuria scenes and the POW camp in Dachau were produced in Lower Silesia.
The “Soldek” ship in Gdansk portrayed the steamship connecting Vladivostok with the coasts of Tsuruga in Japan. The harbor in Gdynia played the harbor in Klaipeda. The grand ball in Bucharest was filmed in the interiors of the former Palace of Poznansky, now part of Museum of the City of Lodz.
Film Commission Poland worked with Cine Bazar to find locations and liaise with the Polish film industry.