SCAD FILM FEST 2020: 'Minari' Q&A + Steven Yeun Discovery Award
A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, Minari follows a Korean American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. Steven Yeun is presented with the Discovery Award.
Numerous actors, directors, and other celebrities are raising an outcry after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Golden Globe awards each year, announced the American-made movie Minari would be classified as a foreign language film.
The HFPA's guidelines stipulate that at least 50 percent of a film's dialogue must be in English to compete in the Globes' Best Picture categories, rendering Minari ineligible as it is mostly in Korean. Lead actor Steven Yeun and his costars will still be able to compete for acting awards, however. Similarly, 2019's The Farewell, which features extensive dialogue in Mandarin, was categorized as a foreign language film at this year's Globes. (Star Awkwafina also took home the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy trophy for her performance.)
As many observers pointed out, however, Minari was filmed and is set in the United States, was produced by American production companies and directed by an American filmmaker (Lee Isaac Chung), with an American actor (Yeun) in the lead role. The film follows a Korean-American family that moves to a small farm in Arkansas and is expected to be a major contender at next year's Oscars. (It was also ranked no. 2 on EW's list of the best movies of 2020.)
"A sad and disappointing reminder that a movie about the American dream, set in America, starring an American, directed by an American, and produced by an American company, is somehow foreign," Kim's Convenience star Andrew Phung wrote of the HFPA's decision on Twitter. Added Little Fires Everywhere author Celeste Ng, "This is a gorgeous film by an American, about Korean-speaking Americans in America, which would be a strong contender for awards in ANY category. The idea that only films in English count as 'American' is complete bulls---."
A sad and disappointing reminder that a movie about the American dream, set in America, starring an American, directed by an American, and produced by an American company, is somehow foreign. #Minari https://t.co/u8VVfp0Sf4
— Andrew Phung (@andrewphung) December 23, 2020
This is a gorgeous film by an American, about Korean-speaking Americans in America, which would be a strong contender for awards in ANY category. The idea that only films in English count as “American” is complete bullshit. https://t.co/tgKqGzMUn7
— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) December 23, 2020
The Farewell director Lulu Wang echoed Ng, calling for the HFPA to revise its eligibility rules. "I have not seen a more American film than #Minari this year," Wang wrote. "It's a story about an immigrant family, IN America, pursuing the American dream. We really need to change these antiquated rules that characterizes American as only English-speaking."
I have not seen a more American film than #Minari this year. It's a story about an immigrant family, IN America, pursuing the American dream. We really need to change these antiquated rules that characterizes American as only English-speaking. https://t.co/1NZbkJFE9v
— Lulu Wang (@thumbelulu) December 23, 2020
Others went further in their criticism, with actor Daniel Dae Kim calling the HFPA's decision, "The film equivalent of being told to go back to your country when that country is actually America." Meanwhile, Glee star Harry Shum Jr. implicitly accused the HFPA of a double standard, as did The Black List founder Franklin Leonard, noting Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (which was nominated for Best Motion Picture — Drama at the 2010 Golden Globes) is mostly in languages other than English.
The film equivalent of being told to go back to your country when that country is actually America. https://t.co/kwEf8eO9v8
— Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim) December 23, 2020
— Harry Shum Jr (@HarryShumJr) December 23, 2020
Let us not forget that Inglorious Basterds was mostly not in English and was not classified the same way. https://t.co/HjMktWUV8F
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) December 23, 2020
Films not in English have seen increasing acceptance and success from American awards bodies in the last few years, culminating in South Korea's Parasite becoming the first non-English-language film to win the Best Picture Oscar earlier this year.
A24 will release Minari widely on Feb. 12, 2021. See more reactions to the Golden Globes news below.
HFPA will have no choice to change this call on #Minari . Filmmakers will boycott. It will be in every speech. Every interview. This is a dumb decision.
— Phil Lord #WinGA #BlackLivesMatter #WearAMask (@philiplord) December 23, 2020
I’m a first-generation American born and raised in New York City and @MinariMovie, a film about a Korean American family searching for the mercurial and multi-faceted American Dream in rural Arkansas, made me feel seen in a way movies rarely do. pic.twitter.com/3983PUhtvX
— Nia DaCosta (@NiaDaCosta) December 23, 2020
#Minari is an American film about new Americans. Everyone in America except for indigenous people came from somewhere else by choice or force. The English language is not an indigenous language. Enough of this nonsense about Asian-Americans being permanently foreign. I’m done. https://t.co/GEuXGDx85I
— Min Jin Lee (@minjinlee11) December 23, 2020
— Phillipa Soo (@Phillipasoo) December 23, 2020