While the announcement Golden Globe Nominations are still a month away, Variety confirmed that the Hollywood Foreign Press or the HFPA, has categorized Minari as a Foreign film. This comes as a surprise as Minari is directed and written by American Lee Isaac Chung, and stars American Steven Yeun, and is set in Arkansas in the 1980’s. The film is also produced by A24, an American studio. Either way, most people in Hollywood were reasonably disappointed with the announcement.
Lulu Wang, director of the critically acclaimed film, The Farewell, who has spoken out against Asian prejudices in the industry in the past, discussed the need for a change in Hollywood. She also tweeted about a similar subject when it came to the announcement earlier this year that Ron Howard would direct a Biopic about Chinese pianist Lang Lang, a story close to Lulu Wang. Her main argument came from the lack of culture that she felt was apparent with the latest Mulan remake. Wang says in this tweet though that Minari is the anthesis of that.
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
Nia DaCosta, director of Candyman and the upcoming Captain Marvel 2, discussed the impact the film had on her and how it is a film that not only is set in the United States, but exemplifies the first-generation experience.
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
Harry Shum Jr, Glee and All My Life star also came out comparing the ratio of a film that got a ton of nominations from the Golden Globes, but was largely in other languages.
— Harry Shum Jr (@HarryShumJr) December 23, 2020
The only difference here is that Tarantino’s film was not forced to be in a Foreign Film category. Overall, there have been a ton of reactions from many individuals in and out of Hollywood. It is important to note that, in the melting pot that has been created through years of hardship, the United States is still no where near perfect. It never will be, but it is vital that everyone’s story is at least heard and given a fair chance.
The Asian-American experience is not one highlighted by the industry always. It actually rarely has been over the decades of American filmmaking. It was not until recently that Asian-American stories were even being told. As an Asian-American myself, it is hard to watch announcements like this happen, but also important to realize that award shows are not everything, and rarely should be given any credence.
It comes down to what the individual gains from the story.
And that particular story might be an American story that is in a different language, but it is still unilaterally American.