Tokyo, May, 16th, 2018  (SIGNIS Japan). The 42nd Japan Catholic Film Award, presented every year by SIGNIS Japan, goes to “Blanka”, directed by Kohki Hasei. The Award ceremony and screening were held this weekend, in Tokyo.  

Blanka makes her living on the street of Manila from small thefts and tricks. She dreams of saving enough money to “buy” a mom. When she meets the talented Peter, a blind gambling musician, her life takes an unexpected direction. They decide to join forces in order to face the everyday struggles. Thanks to Peter, Blanka discovers she is a talented singer and, more importantly, understands that money cannot buy the love of a person.

Below, Fr. Masahide Haresaku, Advisory Priest to SIGNIS Japan, explains why Blanka received the award this year:

“What a beautiful film Blanka is!  You will find beautiful streets and people in the film.  Although you will see filthy slums in the big city, poor street children and the homeless, you can also see why everything looks so beautiful there. It is because the film maker believes they are beautiful. Movies are an art form created by those who have beautiful eyes.

I can identify passionate insights of the film director who wanted to picture the streets and people living there as they were: empathy for Blanka, affection for Sebastian, and respect for Peter. When we share the director’s kind eyes for these characters, the audience will feel the same sympathy, affection and respect; and these are exactly the same as Jesus’s kind looking at those poor people.

Think about our daily lives. We often encounter people like Blanka, Sebastian and Peter on the streets. At that moment, we feel something, but alas, the next moment we forget about it completely. That “something” should save our lonely world.  Director Koki Hasei elaborately depicted this difficult invisible “something”.  The innocent smile of Sebastian makes us understand what a movie is.  Perhaps movies are a tool we share the human beauty with.

The moment Blanka and Peter become a family although they are not blood related, their faces shine brightly beyond expression.  Yes, the world God created is essentially beautiful.  I strongly felt we should give our Catholic Film Award to Mr. Hasei who made such a beautiful film when my eyes were filled with tears at the end of the film.”