Lee Isaac Chung (R), winner of Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language for “Minari”, and daughter speak during the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards broadcast on February 28, 2021.

Golden Globes 2021: Minari won Best Foreign Film, and here’s why that’s a problem

Posted by for Film

“Reminder: Golden Globes winner Minari is an American film.” 

Minari took home the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes on Sunday 28 February.

It was a thoroughly deserving win, especially as the critically-acclaimed drama was the favourite in this category.

Still, though, Minari’s victory proved to be a bittersweet one, as the American film – which follows a Korean family living in Arkansas in the 1980s – was entered in the Foreign Language category, making it ineligible for the Best Picture categories. 

It’s unsurprising, then, that social media reactions to Minari’s success were tinged with anger.

Minari shouldn’t have even BEEN in this category because it’s an AMERICAN FILM,” tweeted one person watching the awards ceremony from home.

“Not every American is WHITE.” 

Another added: “Let’s be absolutely clear; Minari is not a foreign language film, it’s an American film. A major part of the Asian-American experience is going unseen, unheard, and unacknowledged. I’m lucky and grateful to have a spouse who is not only a partner but an ally in life.”

And still one more said: “I loved the moment Minari won so much! But Minari is an AMERICAN film, by an American director, made in America, about the American experience!” 

Holding his young daughter in his arms as he delivered his emotional acceptance speech via video link, writer-director Lee Isaac Chung said simply: “Minari is about a family. It’s a family trying to learn how to speak a language of its own.

“It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It’s a language of the heart, and I’m trying to learn it myself and to pass it on.

“I hope we all learn how to speak this language of love to each other, especially this year.” 

Of course, the Golden Globes has form when it comes making controversial decisions such as this.

Indeed, just last year saw Lulu Wang’s celebrated film The Farewell – starring Awkwafina – put in the Foreign Language Film category, despite it focusing on a Chinese American woman.

Now, responding to the controversy over Minari, Wang herself has tweeted: “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 characterise American as only English-speaking.” 

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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