by Chris MaGee
In the four years that I've been running the J-Film Pow-Wow I've seen a number of niche Asian and art house DVD distributors come and go. Thankfully we currently have such great niche labels as Third Window Films, AnimEigo, Viz Pictures and Evokative Films to fill our needs when it comes to Asian, foreign and art house films in the West, but for each of those companies there have also been a number that have fizzled on the business front. A look through my own DVD shelf reveals labels that are no longer with us - Arts Magic, Tartan, New Yorker Video, Wellspring, Home Vision Entertainment. It's a depressing roll call of names, but in an age where people are more willing to download films rather than buy them on DVD it's a sign of the times. Many folks have bandied about a possible solution to the marketing of niche films, like Japanese films - online streaming and video-on-demand - but up until now no one has really been able to make this model stick. In 2011 we may finally see that changing, especially if one new company has anything to say about it.
Asian Crush, a brand new wing of Asian Media Rights, is prepping to bring the best of contemporary Asian films to viewers in North America this year via video-on-demand services on cable and satellite, as well as currently unspecified broadband outlets. The company is the brainchild of former ImaginAsian CEO Michael Hong and former VP of ImaginAsian TV David Chu. The company, which currently boasts nearly 200 titles, launched in the U.S. in December. “Our mission is to create a meaningful and sustainable storefront in today’s evolving digital marketplace," says Michael Hong in this post at Asian Fortune News, "a place where the best Asian films can find the audience they so richly deserve.”
What films will Japanese film fans be able to watch through Asian Crush? A pretty impressive selection actually. To name only a few... Yu Irie's "8,000 Miles (Saitama no Rapper)" and its sequel "8000 Miles 2: Girl Rappers", Satsoshi Miki's "Adrift in Tokyo", Daisuke Miura's "Boys on the Run", Yuichi Fukuda's "Chasing My Girl", Keisuke Horibe's "Elevator Trap", Yosuke Fujita's "Fine, Totally Fine", Mamoru Hosoda's "The Girl Who Leapt through Time", Joe Odagiri's directorial debut "Looking For Cherry Blossoms", Masanori Tominaga's "Pavilion Salamandre" and Ryo Iwamatsu's "Then Summer Came'... and that's not all to see Asian Crush's current catalogue of films from across Asia head to their Facebook page here (and make sure to "Like" them). Oh, and if you're in Canada like us here at the J-Film Pow-Wow have no fear. Asian Crush is apparently getting ready to launch in Canada during the second quarter of 2011.