An ode to culture and a love letter to NYC —

Here’s a movie to watch when it airs next year.

“Asian Persuasion,” the directorial debut of Tony & Grammy Award-winning producer Jhett Tolentino, wrapped production in May and immediately moved into post-production last month. The team also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help recover funds lost during a 12-day hiatus due to COVID.

Written by first-time screenwriter Mike Ang, Asian Persuasion tackles the subject of divorce and relationships in the Asian American community through the prism of the modern Asian American experience.

Set in New York City, the film is Tolentino’s homage to the Big Apple, celebrating not only the iconic landmarks, but also the lesser known and less traveled neighborhood and cultural enclaves that include American-owned hangouts from around the world. Asian origin.

“Yes, this is my love letter to New York and its minority communities, including where they live, whether in Queens, Brooklyn or the Lower East Side.” We also feature American-born businesses Asian and Filipino to show their contributions to the city,” he told the Asian magazine.

Tolentino wants the project to be a true Asian-American collaboration and he succeeded in that aspect. From management to design to decision-making, everything is Asian. Casting and production features collaborators from Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Tibet, Singapore and Japan.

Asian Persuasion features Fil-Am celebrities Dante Basco and Paulo Montalban, KC Concepcion, Yam Concepcion and Bling Empire’s Kevin Kreider, among others.

Asian Persuasion tells the story of an unlucky chef, Mickey from Los Santos (played by Dante Basco), who concocts a crazy plan to marry off his ex-wife, Avery Chua (KC Concepcion), by putting she created a fake profile internet dating service to find her a suitor to remarry to avoid her substantial child support obligations.

Paolo Montalban, Kevin Kreider, Scarlett Sher, Geneva Carr, Yam Concepcion and Tony Labrusca round out the cast, with notable cameos and appearances from, Fe de los Reyes, Rex Navarrete, Rachel Alejandro and stalwarts from Broadway. Marc dela Cruz, Devin Law and Cyn Casasola.

Dante Basco | AJPress photo by Momar G. Visaya

Basco is best known for his breakthrough role as Rufio, the leader of the Lost Boys in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, and for his many voice acting roles, including as Prince Zuko from Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, Jake Long from Disney Channel’s American Dragon: Jake Long and Spin Kick by Carmen Sandiego.

The actor met Tolentino a few years ago at a film festival in San Francisco. They stayed in touch and Tolentino mentioned the project and sent him Ang’s script.

“When I read the script written by Mike Ang, he spoke to me because I got to play an adult. Mike is from our generation, he wrote a voice that I connected with as a Filipino guy that grew at the same time,” Basco said.

Having been in the film industry since childhood, Basco respects the entire filmmaking process and believes that every film is a small miracle to be made. He has also been producing films for 10 years and last year he directed his first film, The Fabulous Filipino Brothers.

“It’s great. I’m very happy and very relieved that we made it because there were so many hurdles to overcome,” he said. “But I’m thrilled to do this one and excited for everything. the world to see what we have done.”

Basco also enthusiastically shared that The Fabulous Filipino Brothers is also streaming via Hulu and he looks forward to sharing stories like this with a wider audience in the United States. He mentioned Jo Koy’s Easter Sunday opening this year and other films such as Yellow Rose.

“So we are in a definitely golden era for Asian Americans. And pop culture and us as Filipinos being part of this whole rising tide of Asian stories is very important to me and close to my heart and I love that,” he said.

Montalban, best known for his breakthrough performance in the 1997 Disney TV movie Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella as Prince Christopher, opposite Brandy as Cinderella, takes on the role of Lee Prince, the unwitting suitor thrust into the couple’s lives. divorce.

“Well, it’s a huge honor to be part of this talented group. I mean, working with Dante Basco, the guy is a legend. We knew each other in Los Angeles years ago, and we never thought we would ever have the chance to work together,” Montalban explained.

“I hope it highlights the joy and laughter of AAPI, as well as the love and friendship. I think it’s the entertainment that touches people’s hearts and once they have understood that our stories are a bit like their own lives, maybe we can better understand each other’s cultures,” he added.

KC’s experience

KC Concepcion | AJPress photo by Momar G. Visaya

“I’ve been doing other things for about four or maybe five years now, so being back in film is a great thing. tapas can support and blessing neither mom, which is really, really important to me,” Concepcion said.

A big fan of romantic comedies and films set in New York, Concepcion said she had fun making the film and can’t wait to let the world watch this Filipino American story.

“Seeing different successful Asian companies that have something to offer is something, it’s similar to what I’ve done before in my travel vlogs on YouTube. It’s my way of sharing all the points hot and good places to go, like New York for example,” she shared.

Everything was going well in filming and she was having the best time of her life with co-stars Dante Basco, Paolo Montalban and the rest of the cast. Then they faced a hurdle when she was exposed and contracted COVID.

Paul Montalban | AJPress photo by Momar G. Visaya

Fully vaccinated and strengthened, she recalled swallowing around 30 antiviral pills in five days as recommended by Dr. Albert Recio and she believes it saved her life.

Nawalan ng puwersa yung mga kamay ko for some reason, maybe because what hit me had an updated strain. Never akong nakka-fever or sore throat although can ubo so what may headaches and colds,” Concepcion explained. “It was very scary that time, thank God, may COVID treatments na tayo ngayon.

Filming was halted and they resumed immediately when the producers got the go-ahead.

Montalban, acknowledging the hard work of the production team and the good vibe they had during filming, praised Tolentino for leading the way.

Director Jhett Tolentino prepares a scene with Dante Basco and KC Concepcion.
| AJPress photo by Momar G. Visaya

“Jhett Tolentino is not only a hell of a director, as a producer he is top notch,” he shared. “You can always say credit to a producer or a director, not just during happy times, but really when they’re stressed, or like when the chips are down and the fact that he’s been able to direct our ship through stormy waters with the calm is amazing.

“It’s been such a roller coaster ride,” Tolentino said, adding that since wearing two hats in film, as director and producer, he’s walked the line between the two. He admitted to spending more time on the production part.

Although this is his debut as a feature film director, Tolentino isn’t necessarily a novice. He previously wrote, produced and directed the autobiographical documentary short “Life Is What You Make It”, released in 2017. He was also producer of Isabel Sandoval’s critically acclaimed “Lingua Franca”, which was presented premiering at the 76th Venice Film Festival. and was nominated for the John Cassavetes Independent Film Award.

Producer and director Jhett Tolentino is proud to have created a diverse Asian American cast and production team. The Tony and Gray Award-winning producer’s directorial debut will air in 2023. Photos courtesy of Asian Persuasion

He hopes to hold the film’s world premiere in the United States in the first quarter of 2023 before moving to Europe and Asia, which will lead to the rollout in the Philippines at the Metro Manila Film Festival. The film is currently in post-production with an expected completion date of September 2022.

Like Basco and Concepcion, Montalban is eager to show this film to viewers around the world.

“When people see the movie, they won’t just see it as Filipino Americans on screen. They’ll see each other there and I think that’s how we can bond with each other. Maybe then we can start having some Asian love,” he said.

If you would like to donate to the film’s crowdfunding campaign, visit its Seed and spark page. All donations to are 100% tax deductible as the producers have partnered with their tax sponsor, Asian CineVision.

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected]

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