Singafest brings out “Hostel” director Eli Roth’s love for Asian films

If a film festival programmer asked “Hostel” director and “Inglourious Basterds” actor Eli Roth to choose a title for the program, he or she would probably expect a horror movie in the lineup.

Instead, for the inaugural 2011 Singafest Asian Film Festival in Los Angeles, Roth went with an obscure Takeshi Kitano film called “Getting Any?” (みんな~やってるか!) – obscure not only in that it has been rarely seen, but also because the bizarre cavalcade of comedic sketches barely stringing together the plot is miles away from the work that Kitano is known for. (In fact, only one 35mm print of Kitano’s film with English subtitles exists, and Singafest organizers had to ship it in from France!)

“I didn’t want to pick an obvious one,” Roth said after he watched the movie at the Bigfoot Crest Theater on Oct. 2. “This is definitely my sense of humor and I’d love to make a movie like this one day, so it was fun to watch with a crowd.”

“Getting Any?” is the story of a down-on-his-luck man who, upon seeing an automobile commercial that preys upon his yearning for sex to become reality, decides that he will go to insane lengths to find a better car in order to attract a woman. That in and of itself sounds crazy, but nothing prepares the viewer for the oddball string of characters and situations that the man encounters, or the increasingly desperate choices he makes to try to achieve his dream.

Aside from Kitano, Roth cited four other Asian film directors as his favorites: Park Chan-wook (“Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”), Takashi Miike (“Audition,” “13 Assassins” and “Ninja Kids!!!”), Hideo Nakata (“The Ring”) and Sion Sono (“Love Exposure” and “Cold Fish”).

“What’s great about the film festival circuit is that I’ve got to meet a lot of these guys,” Roth said. “They’re total cinephiles, they know everything about American cinema and they’re really up-to-date. And they’re doing such interesting, innovative, cutting edge stuff.”

Roth noted that his own 2005 film “Hostel” was greatly influenced by two films in particular.

“It was “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” and “Audition” that made me feel like the Americans were really behind and we had to step it up,” he said. “So those are the movies that kind of pushed me to make that film.”

“I love Asian films,” Roth added. “It’s really an exciting time in movies.”

For more of our interview with Eli Roth at Singafest – where he met some of his fans who won tickets to the “Getting Any?” screening through our giveaway – click on the YouTube link below. Find out more about the favor he paid for Park Chan-wook, and the favor he extended to Takashi Miike!

Video: Interview with Eli Roth at Singafest 2011