Directed by Andrew Ahn
Best Actor, 2016 Sundance Film Festival
U.S. Grand Jury Prize, Best Actor, 2016 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 Jeonju International Film Festival
The Koreatown spa is a space for families: for fathers and sons to scrub each other’s skin, for rituals of bonding and cleansing to clear one’s minds. The spa is also a space for gay sex: for largely non-Koreans to find anonymous foggy corners to engage quietly and peacefully. For Korean American teenager David, the spa is somewhere in between, but also something altogether his own: a space to process his burgeoning desires, a space to escape the pressures of the SATs, a space to make money to support his parents, who have just lost the family business.
Andrew Ahn’s SPA NIGHT unfolds patiently and observantly, much like the family’s resigned transition to new economic realities, and much like the quiet, gradual awakening of sexual identity itself. David’s family doesn’t say much to each other, but each exchange is full of contained hope, of soft affection, of the kind of muted sadness that comes with never wanting to disappoint each other. Ahn finds so much emotional and narrative possibility in that silence, especially in the face of those who speak loudest at the family: a church friend, a test prep counselor. And as David, actor Joe Seo finds in silence the tense balance of control, responsibility, and exhilaration, steadily crystallizing into a body’s new skin, exposed and rejuvenated. –Brian Hu
Writer: Andrew Ahn
Starring: Joe Seo, Haerry Kim