Southampton Jewish Film Festival (2016)
PRIX DE LA VILLE DE STRASBOURG 19th Strasbourg Film Festival (1991)
In 1939, Jews lucky enough to escape the Nazis' reach in Europe had only one place in the world to go that didn't require an exit visa: Shanghai. Escape to the Rising Sun tells the little-known and ironic story of nearly 5,000 Jews who reached Shanghai through the USSR with the help of the Japanese Consul in Lithuania and the Kobe (Japan) Jewish Committee. In the slums of Hongkew, they lived in extreme poverty, battling disease and malnutrition; still, they worked to reconstruct elements of their culture, organizing literary, artistic, and educational programs.
After the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, conditions worsened until German pressure forced the issue of a proclamation ordering all refugees into a ghetto covering an area less than one square mile, where they remained until Shanghai was liberated by the Americans at the end of the war. This documentary features rare footage of the former ghetto of Hongkew, archival material, as well as first-hand accounts from eyewitnesses. Nearly seventy survivors of this amazing escape were interviewed, and fifteen of them were chosen to reveal their story.
"... One of cinema's finer achievements - a rare glimpse of compassion, courage and survival."
- Sunday Herald Sun
"In Escape to the Rising Sun , Belgian filmmaker Diane Perelsztejn has added an authoritative visual essay to the small body of work on the mid-century Shanghai Jews..."
- Peter Kohn, Australian Jewish News
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Escape to the Rising Sun
Survivre à Shanghai
Belgium, 1990, 95 minutes, Color, French with English narration
Directed by Diane Perelsztejn
Public Exhibition formats: 16mm, Beta, DVD