Cover Photo: Busan International Film Festival

One of the only two Filipino-helmed films at the 26th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) gets a win, bringing much pride to the country

If there's one thing we humans have in common, it's that we're all facing our own battles every single day.

But the burden weighs heavier for a disabled Nao Tsuyama (played by Itokazu Shogen), who dreams of fighting in the ring as a professional boxer, as portrayed in the film Gensan Punch, written by Honee Alipio and directed by Brillante Mendoza, an esteemed film director recognised on Tatler's Asia's Most Influential list.

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The film is based on the real story of a Japanese boxer named Naozumi Tsuchiyama, who had to live with a prosthetic leg after getting into an accident in his childhood days. His disability didn't stop him from registering at the Japanese Boxing Association, which unfortunately turned him down.

But after being rejected by the Japanese Boxing Association, he took a one-way ticket to the Philippines and arrives at General Santos City to acquire an international license.

The path to victory is just as challenging; the Japanese boxer will have to learn a new language and adapt to a foreign culture. Along the way, he meets Rudy (Ronnie Lazaro), a former boxing champion who owns the Gensan Quarter in General Santos City, and forms a bond with more people he meets.

Recently, the film won The Kim Jiseok Award at the prestigious 26th Busan International Film Festival and received praise for its poignant portrayal of the troubles of disability and human challenges, proving that we aren't all too different in spite of our differences.

The Jury was headed by Reza Mirkarimi, a director from Iran, and joined by Professor Gulnara Abikeyeva of Kazakhstan and film critic, Kim Haery of Korea. "[Gensan Punch is an] incredibly strong story narrated in a documentary style. It is not just a story of a hero's path to victory, but a story of building human relationships," the jury states. "Okinawa and Gensokyo are two seemingly different worlds, but they are connected by the warmth of people and their beliefs."

It was one of the only two Filipino films premiered at the film fest, the other being On the Job: The Missing 8

Gensan Punch will soon be streaming exclusively on HBO Go. Watch the trailer here:

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