China Underground > Magazine > China Magazine > SHOKUZAI (PENANCE)


Fifteen years ago, tragedy struck a small town when a young elementary school girl Emili was abducted and killed by a stranger.

Japan, 270′
Kyoko Koizumi, Yu Aoi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewaki

Four girls who had been playing with Emili at the time are the first to discover her body. The abductor is never found and the crime goes unsolved. Crazed with grief, Emili’s mother Asako condemns the four girls, none of which can remember the abductor’s face. She tells them, “Do whatever you have to to find the killer. Otherwise, you can pay a penance that I approve.” Deeply affected by Asako’s condemnation, the four girls become adults burdened with the curse of “penance” which eventually triggers a chain of tragic events. 

Director’s Statement

I think of “murder” as an impulsive and irrational crime. Yet, I suppose it must be a process that takes years, maybe decades to culminate… I’ve never directed a film that chronicles such an extraordinary span of time. In this film, I had to grasp five such intervals at once, and it was staggering. How do I portray not one, but five such disparate lives? But in the end, I think this was the best way. When five tragic paths converged, I pictured a flowing, inevitable force called fate. Which of the five characters will viewers empathize with? Or will they just sit, mesmerized, holding their collective breaths? With a powerful story, amazing staff, and dynamic actors supporting me, I may have captured true tragedy for the first time in my life.



Post Author


Tai Chi O



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