3 user 2 critic

Visas and Virtue (1997)

Europe, 1940. For thousands of Jews, a Japanese diplomat and his wife defy Tokyo and the Nazis, and offer visas, for life.


Chris Tashima
Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Chris Tashima ... Chiune 'Sempo' Sugihara
Susan Fukuda ... Yukiko Sugihara
Diana Georger ... Helena Rosen
Lawrence Craig ... Nathan Rosen
Shizuko Hoshi Shizuko Hoshi ... Narrator (Elderly Mrs. Sugihara)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Shauna Bloom ... Woman
Jon Cellini ... Brother
Martin Fontana Martin Fontana ... Man
Gibson Frazier ... Cantor
Alan H. Friedenthal Alan H. Friedenthal ... Refugee #1
Eric Gugisch Eric Gugisch ... German Officer
Linda Igarashi ... Setsuko
Jonathan Klein ... Brother
Noel Miller Noel Miller ... Young Man
Kyoko Motoyama ... Elderly Yuki


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 live-saving transit visas, or obey orders and turn his back on humanity. This Academy Award® winning 26-minute portrait gracefully captured in period black and white by noted cinematographer Hiro Narita poignantly pays tribute to the rescuer of 6,000 Jews from the Holocaust. Written by Cedar Grove Productions

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A short film inspired by the true story of Chiune Sugihara


Short | Biography | Drama | War

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Japanese

Release Date:

20 April 1997 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cedar Grove Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The train departure sequence near the end of the film was shot on location at Travel Town, a historic train museum in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. During World War II, this area served as a detention center where Japanese Americans were falsely imprisoned for being suspected as dangerous "Enemy Aliens," solely based on their ethnicity. No Japanese in America were ever charged, tried or convicted of espionage during World War II. See more »


In the train station scene, "Schlafwagen," written on the side of the train car, is misspelled. See more »


Yukiko Sugihara: Even a hunter cannot kill a bird which flies to him for refuge.
See more »


Referenced in Popcorn Zen: Episode #2.2 (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Get out your handkerchiefs when you see this excellent film.
10 November 1999 | by susannah-5See all my reviews

If you get a chance to see this film, grab it!

I saw "Visas and Virtue" the week after it won the Academy Award for best live action short, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house by the time it ended. With good reason: In telling the story of the Japanese consul in Lithuania who, against the orders of his government and at great personal risk, continued to grant transit visas to Jews fleeing Hitler, the film makers touch several deep places; it is difficult to resist the emotional pull of the themes they explore.

Beautifully shot, mostly in black and white, the story is told both richly and economically. Crammed into about half an hour are such story threads as how the consul and his wife carefully arrange the interviews so that the rules are technically followed, how the stress of both the external crisis of war and refugees and the internal one of personal honor and loyalty and right action affects their family, and the desperation and gratitude of the people who are helped and who, unexpectedly, can help him.

It's a great shame that a short film like this won't be seen by the large audience it deserves.

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