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Brillante Mendoza’s Gensan Punch wins at Busan International Film Festival

Multi-awarded director Brillante Mendoza’s Gensan Punch is a big winner at the 26th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), which ended on October 15, 2021 in Busan, South Korea.

Gensan Punch, along withThe Rapist by India’s Aparna Sen, bagged the Kim Jiseok Award, which, according to BIFF, is “given to the most attractive films that reflect the contemporary standing of Asian cinema in accordance with the late Kim’s intent.”

The two films will receive $10,000 (roughly PHP500,000) each as cash prize.

This was predicted by Magdalene Ew—HBO WarnerMedia’s head of content – entertainment in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan—who only had good words for the film.

She told Variety in an interview published online on September 21, “It’s been a pleasure working with Brillante and his production team on this stunning project.

Gensan Punch is not only a story about boxing, but also a tale about overcoming adversity in the most remarkable ways.

“I fully expect it to turn heads in Busan.”


This sports drama is based on the true story of a Japanese man with prosthetic leg who became a boxer.

It was created and directed by Mendoza, and produced by Takahiro Yamashita and Krisma Maclang Fajardo, with Mendoza, Simon Crowe, and Fumie Suzuki Lancaster as executive producers.

London-based SC Films approached Yamashita, and offered to distribute Gensan Punch worldwide.

Negotiations progressed to SC Films talking to HBO Asia, which has since acquired exclusive rights to show Gensan Punch early next year.

The filming of Gensan Punch began in January 2020, with the cast and crew flying to Okinawa and Fukuoka, Japan, in February and March of the same year.

Japanese actor Shogen (Death Note released in 2015 and Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist released in 2014) stayed in General Santos City, a.k.a. Gensan, home of boxing icon Manny Pacquaio, to train in a local gym for a year, and in the process learned the native dialect as well.

The Filipino actors in the cast include Beauty Gonzalez, award-winning actor Ronnie Lazaro, the young actor Vince Rillon, and Jun Nayra.

Beauty has shed her glamorous image to play the daughter of a coach and gym owner Jun Nayra. She took boxing lessons and researched on underground boxing for the role.

Ronnie Lazaro, who plays the indefatigable boxing trainer, spent considerable amount of time observing local boxing matches to get the feel of ringside action.

Vince, whose movie credits include 3pol Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon! that was directed by Coco Martin in 2019, plays a boxer from Tondo who goes all the way to GenSan to train on the sport.

He is also being seen in Coco’s long-running TV show, Ang Probinsyano.

It will have its Japanese premier at the prestigious Tokyo International Film Festival, where Resbak, another Mendoza film, is part of the main competition, from October 30 to November 8.

Previously, Mendoza won best director awards from 62nd Cannes Film Festival for Kinatay (2009) and 6th Dubali International Film Festival for Lola (2009), including an Achievement in Directing at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards for Thy Womb (2012).


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