London-based sales agent SC Films International has boarded  “December,” a Japanese courtroom thriller from India’s Anshul Chauhan whose cast is led by Shogen, star of Brillante Mendoza’s “Gensan Punch.”  

SC Films International will handle international sales outside of Japan on “December,” Chauhan’s follow-up to notable family drama drama “Kontora” which scooped the Grand Prix Prize at the Tallin Black Nights Film Festival. The sales agent plans to  launch “December” at May’s Cannes Marché du Film before submitting it to fall festivals, said SC Films co-founder Simon Crowe.   

The sales pact was clinched by SC Films’ Fumie Suzuki Lancaster and “December” producer Yamashita Takahiro, also behind “Gensan Punch.” It builds on the companies’ partnership on “Gensan Punch” which sold to HBO for the world and scored the top Asian plaudit, the Kim Jiseok Award, at 2021’s Busan Intl. Film Festival. 

“Kontora” proved a singular coming of age drama shot in black and white with stunning visuals in which a high school student attempts to process her grandfather’s death and determine her own place in the world. 

In “December,” Chauhan tackles the thorny subject of juvenile offenders, as a divorced husband and wife reunite to fight the release of their daughter’s murderer. Doing so, they are forced to confront challenging moral questions about punishment and redemption, the film’s synopsis suggests. 

Written by Rand Colter, who co-penned Chauhan’s feature debut “Bad Poetry Tokyo,” December” is produced by Yamashita, Moteki Mina (“Kontora”) and Chauhan. It also stars Megumi (“The Blood of Wolves”), alongside Matsuura Ryo, Fujimori Shingo, Maya Miki and Kizu Toru.

“After a wave of Scandinavia programming, and now most recently Korean films and television with ‘Parasite,’ ‘Snowpiercer,’ ‘Last Train To Busan’ and record-breaking series ‘Squid Game,’ we believe Japanese programming could be the next big thing. Not just anime, but film and television after ‘Drive My Car,’ ‘Gensan Punch’ and now ‘December’,” said Crowe.

Chauhan commented that, after pitching the screenplay to Yamashita with Shogen as the lead and getting a go-ahead, he started to research Japan’s criminal justice system, attending high court trials. How to treat young offenders, particularly those involved in murder, was “something I was eager to explore.”

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December Courtesy of SC Films

“Though it is argued that their lack of mental capacity makes them less responsible for their crime than an adult, the effects on their victims are no different. It is a problem for which I openly admit I don’t have a solid answer,” Chauhan noted. 

“As such the story respectfully presents the different sides of the issue through three characters and contracts their views. Though the story is entirely fictional, some elements are inspired by real cases,” he added.

“At a point where I felt that sometimes it seemed the world had forgotten the sprit of forgiveness, my close friend Shogen and I met with Anshul to discuss ‘December’ – a film with the themes of loss, grief and ultimately redemption at its very heart. I am therefore thrilled that SC Films has joined us to tell this important story of forgiveness to the world through our film,” said Yamashita. 

“We’re very excited to work with Takahiro and Shogen again after the success of ‘Gensan Punch.’ Anshul is a very talented director as proven by his powerful award-winning film ‘Kontora,’” said Fumie Suzuki Lancaster. “While ‘December’ is a Japanese-language film, it has been made by a diverse team, giving it a unique flavor which will appeal to international audiences.”