Andrew Ahn set a Hollywood precedent last year with his feature-length directorial debut, “Spa Night.” The film, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim, brought the queer Asian-American experience to the big screen with nuance.
The plight of the Asian LGBTQ community was once again on the writer-director’s mind Saturday when “Spa Night” was honored with the 2017 John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles. In a moving, politically charged speech, Ahn stressed the importance of diversity in Hollywood at a time when many minority groups are facing an uncertain future.
“This is so meaningful that this is going to a film about a Korean-American immigrant family, about queer Korean people,” Ahn said in the speech, which can be viewed above. “Now, more than ever, it’s so important that we support stories told by, and about, communities that are marginalized. That we tell stories about immigrants, about Muslims, women, people of color, trans and queer folk.”
He continued, “Film is such a powerful tool in humanizing these communities, so that we can’t be pushed aside [and] labeled as other. We are part of this great country, and we are undeniable.”
The most personal moment of the speech came at its conclusion, when Ahn thanked his parents for “understanding that their gay Korean-American son is their son.”
The John Cassavetes Award is given annually to the best feature film made for under $500,000. Ahn raised the bulk of the funds for “Spa Night,” a coming-of-age film about a young man who discovers an underground world of gay sex when he takes a job at a Korean spa, via a Kickstarter campaign.
Here’s to hoping that “Spa Day” is paying the way for more queer Asian narratives in film and other mediums.