An Interview with Ashley Jordan – By Josh Samford

When it comes to Asian cinema, there are a number of really amazing film festivals throughout the world. Within the United States, there are certainly a number of really high profile events. On the East coast there is the New York Asian Film Festival as well as Japan Cuts, and on the West there is the San Diego Asian Film Festival amongst many other high profile events that showcase Asian cinema. Within this growing marketplace however, there can never be too many!

Bigfoot Entertainment has stepped into the world of festival presentation with their forthcoming Singafest which looks to make a large impact upon the Asian film community. We were very lucky to ask Bigfoot Entertainment president Ashley Jordan a few questions concerning the event! If you’re a big or moderate fan of Asian cinema and you live in or around the Los Angeles area, this seems like a “can’t miss” situation to be sure.

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RC: For our readers at home not familiar with you or your company, what can you tell us about yourself and Bigfoot Entertainment?

AJ: Founded in 2004, Bigfoot Entertainment is an international entertainment company producing independent films and television for the global marketplace. The company finances and develops feature films, documentaries and reality TV shows, many of which have received industry accolades, festival awards and have been distributed throughout the world. Featuring both well-established and up-and-coming American and international talent, Bigfoot releases have shot on location worldwide including the United States, Hong Kong, China, Africa, Europe and Vietnam. Bigfoot Entertainment produces many of its projects at Bigfoot Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary that encompasses six sound stages and on-site state-of-the-art post-production facilities.

Bigfoot also develops new filmmakers, talent and industry professionals through the International Academy of Film and Television. Headquartered in Los Angeles with studios in Cebu, Philippines, Bigfoot Entertainment creates content reflecting a Hollywood foundation with a global perspective.

I am the President of Production and oversee all staff, development and production of all our produced content here at Bigfoot Studios. I also manage many other endeavors, like Singafest, and am currently working on the theatrical release of our film Deep Gold in the Philippines and Hong Kong. My background is in development, where I worked for a number of years in Hollywood at Red Wagon, LivePlanet and Tollin Robbins (which became Varsity Pictures). I am an Oscar-winning producer and am in post getting ready to release the latest film I produced through Bigfoot, The Girl With No Number.

RC: For the audience at home, can you describe precisely what Singafest is and what its genesis was?

AJ: Singafest is an Asian Film Festival that will take place at the historic Bigfoot Crest theater September 29th through October 2nd. It’s an opportunity to showcase Asian and Asian-American cinema in the heart of Los Angeles; bringing eastern culture and film to the western world in a new and fresh way.

It was conceptualized in Singapore (hence the name) when we saw the cultural melting pot that was Singapore and came up with the idea of wanting a similar feeling via an event to take place in the entertainment capital. We initially wanted to have the festival in Singapore, but ended up bringing it to LA for various reasons. We wanted to bring east meets west in an inventive and fun way.

RC: How did Bigfoot get into the film festival market?

AJ: We’ve never sponsored a film festival, and film festivals are essential to keeping independent cinema alive and giving aspiring filmmakers a voice. Seeing that we do a fair amount of work in Asia, and then upon purchasing the Crest theater, we thought that the type of festival and the venue would be a perfect fit and an important thing to sponsor.

RC: Is this a sign of things to come from Bigfoot Entertainment? Will there be more Asian or Asian-American film properties distributed by Bigfoot?

AJ: Yes, produced and distributed for the global marketplace. Our focus will continue to be both the US and Asia.
 

RC: Apparently Eli Roth was given a guest-programmers spot, where he could pick an overlooked Asian genre film, can you tell us a bit about his involvement?

AJ: We knew that Eli Roth, director of CABIN FEVER and HOSTEL, is a huge fan of Asian cinema so we offered him a slot at Singafest to pick his favorite overlooked Asian genre film. His choice was really surprising — he didn’t select a horror film or thriller like you might expect. Instead he picked one of actor and director Takeshi "Beat" Kitano’s most obscure comedies, 1994’s "Getting Any?" which is still almost completely unknown over here. It’s a savage satire of modern Japanese consumer society and people’s expectations of love and sexual fulfillment. Kitano starred in a hugely successful TV comedy sketch show in the 1980’s in Japan, and "Getting Any?" is similar to that, it’s very funny and very politically incorrect. When Eli proposed showing it he said "you’re probably not going to be able to find a print it’s so obscure" — but we managed to track down the only existing 35 mm. English-subtitled print with the help of Takeshi Kitano’s office, and we’re bringing the print in from France just for the Festival screening.

RC: What are your expectations for the event and are there any bigger aspirations for this festival?

AJ: I get ahead of myself because I have incredibly high expectations for the film festival. I expect it to be an Asian Sundance of sorts, with Asian celebrities, great films, aspiring filmmakers and lots of high profile seminars and after parties. While it’s our first year and festivals take time to build, we are off to an excellent start and hope to really make a statement with this festival.

RC: Can you describe the Singafest Asian Film Nights that have been taking place at the Bigfoot Crest Theater, and how successful was the introductory showcase?

AJ: The Asian film nights are to give people a taste of what’s to come. To get them excited about Asian cinema and get the word out about the festival as well.

RC: Perhaps you would like to talk about the Bigfoot Crest Theater itself? Care to tell our readers about it? It certainly seems like a spectacular theater!

AJ: It’s an amazing, historic art deco theater. It’s one of the most famous theaters in Los Angeles. We plan to show Asian 3D cinema at the festival since our theater is 3D capable.

RC: Are there any films you’d like to announce for Singafest? An exclusive, perhaps? Hahaha!

AJ: We’re very excited that martial arts legend Sonny Chiba is going to join us for a Lifetime Achievement Award during Singafest. Along with Bruce Lee, Chiba is probably the greatest martial arts star in movie and TV history (he’s got over 140 film & TV roles to his credit.) He’s a national institution in Japan and across Asia, and he’s inspired filmmakers over here like Quentin Tarantino who referenced him in his script for TRUE ROMANCE and later paid homage to Chiba by casting him as sword maker/sushi chef Hattori Hanzo in KILL BILL – VOL. 1. This is the first Tribute like this that Chiba has ever had in Los Angeles, so we’re thrilled it’s going to happen during Singafest. As far as announcing new movies: for Asian genre buffs we’re doing the L.A. Premiere of a terrific new documentary called FILMS OF FURY: THE KUNG FU MOVIE MOVIE by co-directors Andrew Corvey and Andrew Robinson which traces the incredibly rich history of kung fu cinema from the glory days of the Shaw Bros. in the 1960’s and 1970’s up to the present, and features hundreds of mindblowing action sequences with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Gordon Liu, Michelle Yeoh, Chuck Norris and others. It’s basically a martial arts movie-fan’s dream come true.

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And this event certainly seems like it could be a dream come true for many Asian film fans. With genre veteran Sonny Chiba in attendance as well as a screening of the completely bonkers Getting Any?, this seems like the place to be come September 29th. For those fans who want to read more about Singafest you can visit the official website at http://www.singafest.com.