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The 1A Movie Club Sees ‘Minari’

Lee Isaac Chung and Christina Oh of "Minari" attend the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Awards Night Ceremony at Basin Recreation Field House in Park City, Utah.
Lee Isaac Chung and Christina Oh of "Minari" attend the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Awards Night Ceremony at Basin Recreation Field House in Park City, Utah.

“Minari” tells the story of a multigenerational family of immigrants, after they leave California and move to a small farming town in Arkansas. It’s semi-autobiographical, and based on the life of its writer and director, Lee Isaac Chung.

The film has made waves this awards season, but not entirely for the reasons it should have.

On Sunday, it won the Golden Globe for “Best Foreign Language Film,” a category it was selected for despite being set in America and being about Korean-American immigrants.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association rules state that a film must be classified as “foreign language” if more than 50 percent of the dialogue is in a language other than English. Critics say the rule flies in the face of the immigrant experience in America, where families often speak to one another in languages that aren’t English.

The awards ceremony wasn’t all bad. Chung’s daughter provided one of the sweetest moments of the night by far.

So, what sort of story does “Minari” set out to tell? And what does its reception tell us about how we conceive of language in the United States?

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.


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