Specially Processed American Me

Set in a fantastical stage show, this surreal autobiographical tale explores Spam, the canned meat, as a portal into Jaime Sunwoo's Asian American upbringing and her family's experiences of the Korean War. The film investigates Spam’s legacy in the US military and its significance in the Asia-Pacific– Korea, the Philippines, Okinawa, Hawaii, and Guam– through puppetry, masks, and original music played with kitchen instruments. Oscillating wildly between absurd humor and sober tragedy, Specially Processed American Me explores one of America’s most misunderstood foods.

  • Jaime Sunwoo
  • Jaime Sunwoo
  • Karim Muasher
    Co-director for Theatrical Production
  • Sarah Shin
    Key Cast
  • Adrianna Mateo
    Key Cast
  • Juella Baltonado
    Key Cast
  • Nathaniel Basch-Gould
    Key Cast
  • Vanessa Rappa
    Key Cast
  • Monica Goff
    Key Cast
  • Eunji Lee
    Key Cast
  • Weiyang Li
  • Matt Chilton
    Composer, Lyricist
    Handwritten, Equality Tea
  • Alex Lee
    Dramaturg, Subtitler
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 25 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 6, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    75,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Korean
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Jaime Sunwoo

Jaime Sunwoo is a multidisciplinary artist from New York City who creates film, theater, and art under her production company Free Rein Projects. Her works connect personal narratives to global histories through surreal storytelling. She studied art at Yale University and was a fellow at Ping Chong and Company and The Laundromat Project. Her work has been presented at Park Avenue Armory, Abrons Art Center, Flux Factory, and Westbeth Gallery. She has done workshops, lectures, and panel discussions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Food and Drink, Yale University, and New York University.

Her animated short documentary Equality Tea was featured in Vogue and Whetstone Magazine and was awarded Best Short Documentary at DisOrient Film Festival and Indy Film Festival.

Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams commissioned her paper puppetry animated film Handwritten, which screened at Lincoln Center for New York Asian Film Festival, and won Best Short Documentary at American Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival, USA Film Festival, and Indy Film Festival, and nominated Best Short Documentary at Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. The film is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in "Fantastic New Worlds: A Handmade Puppet Dreams Collection".

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Specially Processed American Me is a multidisciplinary project I've developed since 2018. In addition to performances and community screenings, I've done lectures, workshops, and gallery exhibitions related to the project, often over a communal SPAM meal.

The premiere live theater production of Specially Processed American Me, produced by Free Rein Projects, Ping Chong and Company, and Dixon Place, was made possible with support from the Queens Council on the Arts' Artist Commissioning Program, Asian Women Giving Circle, the NYC Women's Fund for Media, Music and Theatre by the City of New York Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment in association with The New York Foundation for the Arts, Brooklyn Arts Fund, MVRP Foundation, The Laundromat Project, and The Jim Henson Foundation. Specially Processed American Me was developed through BRIClab, HB Studio Rehearsal Space Residency, BAX Upstart Program, Barn Arts Residency, Leviathan Lab, and FailSafe.