|Spa Night stars Joe Seo|
“I'M GOING TO BARF,” Andrew Ahn said to laughter after winning an Independent Spirit Award for best film budgeted for under $500,000.
The award is named for John Cassavetes, an actor, screenwriter and director who is considered by many the pioneer of American Independent Film.
A gay Korean/American filmmaker, Ahn won for Spa Night which debuted at Sundance and opened the Asian American International Film Festival in New York.
“This is so meaningful that this award is going to a film about a Korean American immigrant family, about queer Korean/American people,” said Ahn. “Now more than ever its so important that we support stories told by and about communities that are marginalized. That we tell story about immigrants, women, people of color, trans and queer folks.”
The story is centered around a young man who takes a job in a spa to help his struggling parents pay the bills. It is at the spa that David, played by Andrew Seo, explored his gay identity within the context of a conservative Korean/American family.
“Film is such a powerful tool,” said Ahh while clutching his Spirit Award. “Humanizing these communities so we can’t be pushed aside, labeled as other. We are part of this great country. and we are undeniable.”
Spa Night has been honored with numerous awards including best breakout performance for Seo from Sundance and best performance from Outfest. Ahn also won by Outfest for best narrative feature prize.
"I have to thank my parents for understanding that their gay Korean American son is their son," said Ahn.