Cinema Spotlight: Spa Night

Writer-director Andrew Ahn’s remarkably assured feature-length debut is a portrait of forbidden sexual awakening set in the nocturnal world of spas and karaoke bars in Los Angeles’ Koreatown.

David Cho (Joe Seo, who won the Special Jury Award at Sundance for his breakthrough performance), a timid 18-year-old living with his financially-struggling immigrant parents, chances upon a secret spot for cruising when he takes a part-time job at an allmale spa, and begins to realize hidden inner desires that threaten his life as a dutiful son and student.

Effervescent and atmospheric, this one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story makes the steamy spa a liminal place between dream and reality, and desire and disillusionment.

Joe Seo (David) and Youn Ho Cho (Jin) in Andrew Ahn's SPA NIGHT

Spa Night is an intensely personal film,” said Ahn. “I knew very early in the screenwriting process that I had to draw from my own life experiences in order to find the honesty I wanted to show on screen. As the son of Korean-American immigrants, I have felt the conflict between my parents’ expectations and my own personal desires. In Spa Night, I wanted to explore what it means to be a part of a Korean-American family. As Spa Night progressed into production, the film became even more personal for me. We shot on location in Koreatown, Los Angeles — at restaurants I have eaten at, spas I have visited, and streets I have walked down. As I directed scenes, I saw my family in this fictional family I had created.”

“My main character David speaks in a mix of Korean and English to his parents, the same mix I use when I speak to my parents. With Spa Night, I want to open up American independent cinema to include stories about immigrant communities told in languages other than English. It is important that our cinema culture reflect the diversity of the American experience. By telling this story, I am attempting to validate the immigrant experience and acknowledge my parents’ sacrifice to leave their home country and start a new life in America. Spa Night is my way of fulfilling my parents’ hopes and dreams.”

Watch the trailer for Spa Night below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 2/7/20

A gay sauna, not unlike the legendary Continental Baths, is the meeting place for a ragtag group of strangers looking for anonymous sex – and perhaps a friendly smile – in this compassionate new comedy-drama. Everyone at Copa 181 is looking to escape from their mundane reality. Falling under its seductive spell, they learn that family is where you find it. ‘Copa 181’ is available to stream now on Dekkoo!

The 15 year old footballers Loris and Thomas are bored, and steal their trainer’s mobile phone, where they discover photos of young footballers naked in the shower. Loris decided to use the pictures as a revenge. Stream ‘Play it Like a Man’ now on Dekkoo!

Kumar, a bachelor in his thirties leaves his corporate job in Kochi to become a graphic novelist. He embarks on a new life as an Uber driver in Kochi while working on his graphic novel titled ‘Pixelia’. One day a transgender named Mandakini gets into his cab and that day changes Kumar’s life forever. ‘Pixelia’ is available to stream now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: The release of the trailer for our brand-new Dekkoo-original ‘Stranger Hearts’!

Short Film Spotlight: The Language of Love

In The Language of Love, seventeen-year-old Charlie (Kim Ho) struggles to find the words to be true to himself… and his best friend.

Written and performed by Kim Ho and directed by Laura Scrivano, The Language of Love is a wry, sensitive and moving account of a young man coming to terms with his sexuality and facing a life-changing decision.

The film was written by Kim, under the mentorship of leading Australian playwright Tommy Murphy and was created as part of The Voices Project from the Australian Theatre for Young People.

Originally released in April 2013, The Language of Love has been widely acclaimed. The Advocate describes it as a film “to melt your heart.” It also earned two very big fans in Stephen Fry and Ellen DeGeneres. After seeing the film, both of them went out of their way to sing its praises on social media.

Watch the trailer for The Language of Love below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

Now Available: Socrates

After his mother’s sudden death, Socrates (Christian Malheiros), a 15-year-old living on the margins of São Paulo’s coast, must learn survive on his own. As he faces isolation because of his sexuality, his search for a decent, worthy life reaches a breaking point.

Filmed with a micro budget of under twenty thousand dollars, Socrates is the debut feature film from Brazilian-American director Alexandre Moratto. The film is also the first feature produced by the Querô Institute in Brazil where it was co-written, produced, and acted by at-risk teenagers from local low-income communities, with the support of UNICEF.

Socrates earned rave reviews from critics and won numerous awards at film festivals all over the world – along with the coveted “Someone to Watch” award at last year’s Film Independent Spirit awards.

Watch the trailer for Socrates below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 11/29/19

After his mother’s sudden death, Socrates, a 15-year-old living on the margins of Sao Paulo’s coast, must survive on his own. As he faces isolation because of his sexuality, his search for a decent worthy life reaches a breaking point. ‘Socrates’ is available to stream exclusively on Dekkoo!

Hong Kong is one of the most economically developed regions in Asia, with one of the fastest paced lifestyles in the world. In recent years, the LGBTQ community has become more hopeful, and started to stand up for their rights. Stream the entire ‘Queer Asia – Hong Kong’ series now!

After being involved in a car accident while on vacation in Mexico, a woman finds herself confused and alone. When she meets Guy, a handsome gay photographer, an unconscious bond is formed as they connect emotionally over a mutual desire for companionship. ‘El Ganzo’ is available to stream now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: Who’s ready for an up-close and very personal look at porn star Levi Karter? 

Now Available: Cousins

From writer-director-star Thiago Cazado, the creator behind the 2017 gay drama About Us, comes the unusual new romance Cousins, a controversial and supremely sexy new coming-of-age love story.

Young Lucas (Paulo Sousa) lives with his religious Aunt Lourdes (Juliana Zancanaro) in a quiet country town, where he dutifully helps her proselytize by playing biblical songs on his keyboard. His quiet life is soon agitated, however, when his aunt announces the arrival of another nephew named Mario (Thiago Cazado), who has just been released from jail. Forced to share a bedroom, these two cousins find their personalities clashing… until an unexpected attraction starts to bond them together.

The newest piece of work from a queer filmmaker on the rise, this new film is not afraid to push boundaries.

Watch the trailer for Cousins below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 11/22/19

When Lucas and Mario, two young cousins who are only meeting for the first time, are forced to share a room in the home of their deeply religious aunt, they find their personalities clashing… until an unexpected attraction starts to bond them. ‘Cousins’ is now available to stream exclusively on Dekkoo!

After 5-years, Xavi’s boyfriend has left him. To ward off depression, Xavi resorts to self-help books which may not be a wise decision. Watch ‘My Reality’ now on Dekkoo!

Set in 1931, this visually sumptuous comedy-drama from director Peter Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover) focuses on seminal filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin) during a location-scouting trip in Mexico – wherein a series of sensual and romantic events unfold that will alter the course of his life and career. Stream ‘Eisenstein in Guanajuato’ now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: A deeply moving human story of a gay teenager left to survive on his own in São Paulo.