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Boxing film raises awareness about hate crimes against Asians

Zeus movie poster

Zeus movie poster

San Diego-native Chris Soriano decided to make the boxing film “Zeus” to help raise awareness about of hate crime against people who are Asian.

“The original plan was to incorporate some of the hate crimes that were happening,” said Soriano, 32, who is Filipino “I saw older (Asian) people getting hit and killed. What if that happened to a boxer and was built into a script?”

The film focuses on a middleweight boxing champion of the world who loses his mother to COVID-19 and challenges an Asian American fighter named Zeus (portrayed by Soriano) who he can punish in the ring. A neighborhood boxing legend named Coach Green (Miguel Matos) decides to coach Zeus to help him overcome this seemingly insurmountable challenge.

“Coach Green is the mentor who he goes to who teaches him how to become a fighter,” Soriano said. “He does it in an unorthodox way — he takes him into the streets.”

Soriano, who directed and wrote “Zeus” made the film during the pandemic. He incorporated scenes of violence against Asians, some of whom have been targeted for hate crimes over the misconception that COVID-19 was brought to this  country and spread by people who are Asian. However, the film shows people of all races can come together through boxing and other activities and learn about each other.

For instance Coach Green, who is Black, learns more about the challenges of being Filipino through his relationship with Zeus.

“I’m hoping this film will show that racism and all that is dependent on a individual – it’s not a particular race or group,” Soriano said. “We can combat this racism by understanding and learning from each other as opposed to be scared and afraid.”

Eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao is executive producer of “Zeus.” You can read Pacquiao’s endorsement and watch the film trailer on Facebook. “Zeus” will be available on Amazon Prime starting August 20. Soriano hopes to have it shown in theaters as well.

Chris Soriano

Chris Soriano

Soriano grew up in the Skyline, a hilly neighborhood in southeastern San Diego. In the past racist, restrictive housing covenants kept people of color out of Skyline. However, the neighborhood is now home to a large Black and Filipino population. It has also experienced problems with drug trafficking and gangs.

Growing up, Soriano looked at making movies as something only rich people did. But he promised himself when he grew up he would make films that included actors that looked like the people he grew up with in Skyline. Soriano also said there needs to be more actors who are Filipino or Asian in film. He was inspired at age 13 by Filipino-American actor Dante Basco, who Soriano saw dancing in a movie.

Soriano’s cousin Bianca Zaipien and her husband are social workers and he said he has seen how they and other “heroic” social workers help others. He hopes social workers will see the film and use it to help educate others about how to end racism and hate crimes.

“Race should never be an issue for why we fight and kill and beat people up,” he said.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has strongly condemned hate, racism and violence against people who are Asian. Take time to read our statement. Former NASW California Chapter Executive Director Janlee Wong also offered social workers advice on how to stop hate crimes against Asians in this NASW Social Work Talks podcast episode.


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