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Japanese master of suspense Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s eerie, intense psychological thriller Penance (Shokuzai) unfolds on a sleepy small town playground, when a mysterious stranger approaches a group of young friends, then kidnaps and brutally murders one of the girls. Wracked with grief, the victim’s unhinged mother Asako (Kyoko Koizumi) demands that the shaken survivors identify the killer or face a penance of her choosing. Growing up in the shadow of this tragic debt, each of the four girls cultivates a warped survival mechanism – avoidance, desperation, fear and obsession. A disturbing, sensitively helmed chronicle of post-traumatic stress from a female perspective, Penance offers Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s trademark creepy twists as well as a subtle commentary on Japanese society and gender expectations. This gripping long-form serial drama highlights a new facet of renowned auteur Kurosawa (PULSE, CURE, CHARISMA) and features absorbing performances from a stellar line-up of award-winning, up-and-coming young actresses.

Reactions, Awards & Festivals

“The film’s paradoxical end leaves mainly cold feeling of admiration for the excellent cast, nuanced females roles, the cinematic appeal of the art direction and photography based on variations of the color white, the unexpectedness of Yusuki Hayashi’s score and the boldness of the whole project.”



“A powerful new work from a true master. Taken on their individual merits each episode is meticulously well constructed and beautifully performed.”



“Fascinating, expansive piece of work…remarkably consistent and enjoyable…all four actresses are superb.”



Official Selection - 2012 Toronto International Film Festival

Winner! - 2013 Fribourg International Film Festival, FIPRESCI Prize

Cast & Crew
  • Asako Adachi : Kyoko Koizumi
  • Hiroaki Aoki : Teruyuki Kagawa
  • Sae Kikuchi : Yu Aoi
  • Maki Shinohara : Eiko Koike
  • Akiko Takano : Sakura Ando
  • Yuka Ogawa : Chizuru Ikewaki
  • Takahiro Otsuki : Mirai Moriyama
  • Tanabe : Kenji Mizuhashi
  • Koji Takano : Ryo Kase
  • Director : Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Screenplay : Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Based on the Novel by : Kanae Minato
  • Producer : "Tomomi Takashima, Yumi Arakawa, Nobuhiro"
  • Director of Photography : Akiko Ashizawa
  • Editor : Chie Matsumoto
  • Production Designer : Yusuke Hayashi
  • Music :
Technical Info
  • Production Year : 2010
  • Release Date : 11/14/2014
  • Countries of Production : Japan
  • Languages : Japanese
  • Running Time : 300 Minutes
  • Screen Ratio : 1.77:1
  • Sound : Dolby
  • Color : Color
  • Rating : Not Rated
Theatrical Engagements
Theater Name
New York
DVD/Blu-Ray Special Features

Interview with Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Interview with Actress Kyoko Koizumi

Collector’s Booklet including Photos and Essays

Video Essay on Penance and the films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa

  • EPISODE 1 - The French Doll : Tragedy strikes when Emili is shockingly murdered by a mysterious stranger. The other four girls present at the scene of the crime - Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuka - are unable to remember the killer’s face and the crime goes unsolved. Fifteen years later, a now adult Sae is paid a surprise visit on her wedding day.
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  • EPISODE 2 - Emergency PTA Meeting : Maki is now a relentlessly strict teacher at a elementary school and trains in self-defense techniques in her off-time to combat her overall sense of helplessness. When an attacker arrives at her school, Maki jumps into action to confront him, triggering a chain of unforeseen repercussions.
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  • EPISODE 3 - Brother and Sister Bear : Akiko has withdrawn from society and lives a reclusive life at home. But things change when her brother Koji moves back home from Tokyo with his wife and step-daughter, Wakaba. As Akiko forges a close bond with her young niece, she begins to notice signs of a strange relationship between the girl and Koji.
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  • EPISODE 4 - Ten Months Ten Days : When Yuka was a child, her mother always favored Yuka’s sickly older sister Mayu. Now the successful proprietor of a flower shop, Yuka is still consumed by jealousy. When Mayu marries a kindly policeman named Keita, Yuka concocts a vengeful plan to seduce him.
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  • EPISODE 5 - Atonement : Fifteen years since the murder of her daughter, Asako is still overtaken with grief and resentment. One day she receives a vital new clue as to the identity of Emili’s killer and sets out to find him. As she closes in on the truth, Asako finds herself in an unexpected location from her past.