MOST people have heard of Oskar Schindler.
Linda Royal only recently discovered that her father and grandparents were saved by another Righteous Gentile.
They fled Nazi-occupied Poland to Lithuania and were saved with 6000 other Jews in 1940 by the Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara.
At great personal risk and defying his government, Sugihara illegally issued them transit visas to Japan, saving them from extermination.
Being a writer, Royal’s instinct was to honour this brave individual by perpetuating his memory in film – like Spielberg did with Schindler – because although Israel honoured Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations in 1985, few have heard of him.
“But many should know,” insisted Royal. “I am alive, as are my siblings and children, because of him.”
Royal has partnered with writer Nico Lathouris, co-writer of Mad Max: Fury Road, and editor Joshua Lundberg to develop a feature film, for which they are seeking funds.
The Saviour is inspired by the true story of Sugihara’s selfless acts of bravery.
Set in 1968, the story deals with antisemitism, the psychological trauma carried through life by survivors, the struggle refugees face and the impact on the next generation.
“With the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Pittsburgh attack, the Yom Kippur murders in Germany etc, we can’t ignore antisemitism,” Royal said.
“Our goal is to educate a global audience with the reach that only cinema can achieve so that we and the world never forget.”
She added, “The bottom line is Hollywood-style drama is more attractive to the man on the street than a documentary; and unlike museums which need people to walk into them, cinema flows out to small communities and tiny villages whose inhabitants would otherwise not have accessibility to museums, or the desire or education to seek one out.”
Royal recently received approval from the Australian Cultural Fund to assist her in raising money for the film’s development.
Querying whether others have heard of Sugihara, Royal remarked, “I aim to change that.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.thesaviourfilm.com.