In July, the brand new documentary “Kaunas. The City of Sugihara and Japan” created by the Vytautas Magnus University Centre for Asian Studies will be introduced in Japan. The first screening of the film will take place on July 28th, 1 pm in Gifu City Library. On the same evening, the movie will be shown in Yaotsu, a town in the Gifu prefecture which is home to Jindogaoka Park commemorating the Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara.
The events are part of the festival “Lithuania NOW” which is organised for the first time by Gifu Prefecture. Dr Aurelijus Zykas, one of the masterminds behind the movie, will participate in both of the screenings. Earlier this year, we talked to Dr Zykas about the film – you’re welcome to read the article here.
In the documentary, the story of Kaunas–Japan bilateral relations is revealed through four personalities who prior the World War II became bridges between the two countries. The first person is Yukichi Fukuzawa, the first Japanese who mentioned and wrote about Kaunas in his diary. In 1862 together with the mission of 36 Japanese he travelled through Lithuania by train and went for a short stroll in Kaunas. Later, in 1905, the author of the first Lithuanian books about Japan – Steponas Kairys – was amazed by a small distant country which managed to defeat much bigger Russia and inspired Lithuanians to seek independence. In 1929, even after visiting Japan for a few times, journalist and traveller Matas Šalčius decided to reach this country from Kaunas once again… on a motorcycle. And finally, diplomat Chiune Sugihara united both nations in 1940 with his heroic act.
The premiere of the documentary in Kaunas took part on April 26th. The team of the movie are dr. Aurelijus Zykas, dr. Linas Didvalis and Kristijonas Jakubsonas. 20 scholars and politicians have participated in the shooting of the documentary both in Lithuania and Japan. Through 2017 November – December the shooting has been taking place in various places in Japan. During this time the team visited 10 cities in Japan, where they met with scholars and filmed related sites, objects and documents.
A screening in Tokyo should take place later this year in Novembers. Residents and guests of Kaunas will have the chance to see the film on September 4th, during the Sugihara Week.
Partners and sponsors of the movie are Toshiba International Foundation, Global Japan Office, ProConf and Kaunas City Municipality.