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


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 (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member 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 served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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