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2016 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Andrew Ahn’s Spa Night

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Some of the festival’s favorite alumni are filmmakers who first broke into the festival with a short and then shored up a couple of years later with their first feature film. After premiering Dol (First Birthday) at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the Institute lassoed the Korean-American Los Angeleno filmmaker for the June 2013 Sundance Screenwriters Lab. With stops at both the 2013 Film Independent Screenwriting Lab and 2014 Film Independent Directing Lab and some coin from Sundance Institute Cinereach Feature Film Fellow Grant, Andrew Ahn‘s feature debut successfully raised some coin and future fans via Kickstarter. Production began mid summer and unless there is a great deal of post work, logically this could be ready to go for the 2016 edition. A coming of age drama, Spa Night would celebrate the notion of identity in a double dosage: LGBT and Korean communities are represented here.

Gist: David Cho is an 18-year-old Korean-American teenager, living in Koreatown, Los Angeles with his first-generation parents Jin and Soyoung. David helps out at the family tofu restaurant, but business is slow and the restaurant is forced to close. Struggling to escape his crumbling family life, a closeted Korean-American teenager follows his desires and finds more than he bargains for at the Korean spa.

Production Co./Producers: Nonetheless Productions’ Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim, Kelly Thomas, David Ariniello

Prediction: NEXT section.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. TBD (domestic). TBD (international)

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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