Eric Rivas’ remake of his cult-classic film, “Japanese Borscht,” premieres in New York City at Anthology Film Archives (32 2nd Ave) on October 5 at 8 pm.
The film stars Rivas as David, a man who is desperate to reunite with his stepdaughter and seeks the help of Japanese Goodfellas. Rounding out the cast along with Musto, are club owner and producer Noel Ashman, porn star Ron Jeremy, Ángel Salazar of “Carlito’s Way” and “Scarface,” the late Oscar-nominated actress Sylvia Miles, Screamin Rachael of Trax Records, and Michael Musto who plays a gay Mafioso named Uncle.
In “Japanese Borscht,” David attends a barbecue to celebrate the release of his girlfriend Lena’s brother, Ivan, from prison. When a bag containing $100,000 in cash that was supposed to be presented to Ivan by his gangster friends goes missing, everyone assumes it was Lena’s starving actor boyfriend who stole it. David finds himself banned from seeing Lena and her daughter Christine, a girl he has raised since she was 8 years old. While filming a Phantom of the Opera short with Ron Jeremy directing, all seems lost; until a chance encounter with a high school friend leads David to a group of Japanese Goodfellas who offer to help him land acting jobs in Japan. Ironically, they will also help him in his fight against Ivan and his gangster pals.
“Japanese Borscht’ is the first film I ever made,” explains director Eric Rivas. “I made it almost fifteen years ago on a vacation camera. At the time, I was a young actor, finding it tough to land acting jobs. Directors would see my last name, call me in for an audition, but pass me up because while last name was Hispanic, I didn’t look Hispanic enough.”
“This film encompasses all I am,” he continues. “A street kid actor, an outsider, a fighter, an actor and a leader. It also allowed me to discover new talent that was also being passed up by mainstream directors.”
Sylvia Miles, nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in “Midnight Cowboy,” was scheduled to co-star but passed away before filming. Through the magic of Hollywood, Rivas was able to include her in “Japanese Borscht” by incorporating footage of Miles shot by late videographer Nelson Sullivan. Ron Jeremy, Noel Ashman, and Angel Salazar Scarface also star.
In addition to the stellar talent, a key element in “Japanese Borscht” is the musical soundtrack talent being distributed by (Sony) Ultra Music. Featured acts include Parliament P Funk, Melle Mel, Wildstreet, Prince Culture, Michael Musto, Screamin Rachael, and Hip-Hop composer Sonofsam. “I am incredibly thankful to Jason Chaos for his contributions to the album including introducing me to Wildstreet and securing them for the soundtrack,” says Rivas. “I also have to thank Rachael Cain for helping us seal the deal with Ultra.”
“My hope is that theatergoers leave ‘Japanese Borscht’ with a new appreciation of Asian culture and take notice of the contrasting American loudness to Japanese calm,” says Rivas. “I also hope to instill the idea that no amount of violence can end matters of the heart and that sometimes a method acting Phantom can save the day.”
View the “Japanese Borscht” trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd-l9pnDBwk.