Film Review by Anna Gardner: “Spa Night” and “Golden Golden”

*spoilers ahead*

The IPAAFF 2017 program is finalized and I am very excited to be sharing some of my favorite films with you. I was very interested in engaging with the identities that overlap with being Asian American. The identity that this screening engages with is being LBGT. What does it mean to have a sexuality or gender outside the normative culture in addition to being Asian American? These two films both explore this in beautiful ways.

Golden Golden was written and directed by Erica Cho, a visual artist and filmmaker. This short film looks into the lives of two 20-somethings from San Bernardino when they visit a Los Angeles fortuneteller. Conjoined crystal balls and queer, pop song visions open up new spaces for desiring and becoming – across Asian, Black, and Latinx imaginaries. This short was very entrancing for me and exuded love. This is a love story. Love can be both romantic and platonic, and Golden Golden explores these possibilities of love in the sweetest way. It purely shows the beauty of non-heteronormative relationships.

Youn Ho Cho (Jin), Haerry Kim (Soyoung) and Joe Seo (David) in Spa Night

Spa Night is the debut feature film of Andrew Ahn. Like many first-generation immigrants, David Cho serves as the intermediary between his parents’ insular Koreatown life in Los Angeles and the frenetic landscape of the wider city. When the family restaurant is forced to close, the balance of the household is threatened and tension mounts at home. In an unfamiliar twist on more familiar immigrant stories, David does not accept his parents’ dreams for him to pursue an education but instead decides to help his family make ends meet by secretly taking a job at a Korean spa. There, David finds himself suddenly exposed to the clash between traditional Korean culture and the underground world of gay hook-ups. Ahn’s visual imagery paired with heated passions makes for a captivating film. This is an unfiltered look into gay hook-up culture. Ahn aims to tell a personal story, a family story, by having the audience get right in the thick of it. This film is steamy, heartbreaking, and relatable. What desires do you harbor in fear of losing your normal life?

Haerry Kim (Soyoung) and Joe Seo (David) in Spa Night.

IPAAFF is thrilled to be hosting Andrew Ahn for a Q&A after the screening on Friday, April 21. 

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