Lulu Wang, Daniel Dae Kim, Phil Lord And More Drag Golden Globes For Placing ‘Minari’ In Foreign Language Category

Alan S. Kim, Steven Yeun, Noel Cho and Yeri Han in 'Minari' Courtesy of David Bornfriend/A24

Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari starring Steven Yeun is very much an American story. Chung, who was born in Denver, Colorado, tells the story of an immigrant Korean family that has lived in America for some time as they adapt to their new farm life in a small Arkansas town. All that said, the A24 film was put in the Best Foreign Language award category for the upcoming Golden Globes — and people aren’t very happy about that.

Minari is the most/best American movie I saw this year,” tweeted Phil Yu of the popular Angry Asian Man website. “This is complete bullsh*t.”

Yu was one of many who put the Golden Globes on blast when the news was released about Minari. Another was filmmaker Lulu Wang who was facing the same issue last year when her film The Farewell was regulated to Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes.

“I have not seen a more American film than #Minari this year,” Wang tweeted. “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.”

Deadline has learned that Minari was entered in the Best Foreign Language award category and has been in that category ever since. The Golden Globe eligibility rules state that any film with at least 50% of non-English dialogue goes into the Foreign Language category. Motion picture dramas, musicals or comedies with 50% or more English dialogue are eligible for the Best Motion Picture – Drama or Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy awards.

In addition, according to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association website, they made some modifications to this year’s ceremony. The website states: “in order to qualify, a foreign language films must have been released in their country of origin during the prior 15-month period, from October 1 to December 31 before the awards. This year, in light of the disruption caused by the pandemic, several changes were made to the qualification rules.” The site also states: “The ‘country of origin(s)’ of a foreign language motion picture is(are) the country(ies) of its production entity(ies)”. Minari was produced by A24 and Plan B Entertainment which are both American production companies. The film was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Much of Minari is in Korean, but like Wang, many were pointing out how American this story is despite being in a foreign language. The nuance was being overlooked and people started bringing out receipts when it came to past Best Picture nominees for the Golden Globes when it came to what constitutes a foreign language and American film.

In a tweet, All My Life star Harry Shum Jr examined the English to German and French & Italian language ratio in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds which was roughly 30:70. “#Minari is an American film,” he wrote.

The Black List’s Franklin Leonard signed off on this: “Let us not forget that Inglorious Basterds was mostly not in English and was not classified the same way.”

To add to this, Alejandro Iñárritu’s Babel, which included five different languages, was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes in 2007. It can also be argued that the Lombardy-set Call Me By Your Name which includes a hefty amount of the Italian language, should have been considered a foreign language film but it was still nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama in 2018.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producer Phil Lord tweeted: “The thing is, on Minari and the Globes, this isn’t an oversight. It’s a choice. The rules could and should have changed after last year. This year many people made the case that Minari is an American film. This is a carefully considered, deliberate, harmful decision.”

He added, “I just can’t see why ANY film in any language would be disqualified from competing in the best picture categories. What is the rationale?”

From there, even more people in Hollywood and beyond took to Twitter to voice their grievances.

Daniel Dae Kim wrote that Minari being in the Best Foreign Film category was the “film equivalent of being told to go back to your country when that country is actually America.”

The Mandalorian‘s  Ming Na Wen wasn’t happy either. ” “This pisses me off on so many levels. STOP THIS STUPIDITY!!” she wrote. “A film like #Minari is as American as it gets!!! Fix this, #GoldenGlobes. Especially in 2020.”

“Just for the record, Minari is an American movie written and directed by an American filmmaker set in America with an American lead actor and produced by an American production company,” tweeted Shang Chi‘s Simu Liu. “…and without spoiling anything it is a BEAUTIFUL story of an immigrant family trying to build a life from the ground up. What could be more American than that?”

Liu’s Kim Convenience co-star Andrew Phung tweeted: “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.”

“Please change your name to ‘Golden Only For English Speaking People,’ because that would be more accurate,” Congressman Ted Lieu chimed in. “#Minari is an American movie about a Korean American family in Arkansas. Why does a best picture have to be in English? Globe is in your name. Get it?”

Min Jin Lee, the author of Pachinko which is currently being developed into an Apple series, said, “#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.”

This news also comes after the Academy rejected Deepa Mehta’s Funny Boy as  Canada’s official entry for the 93rd Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category because it contained too much English dialogue. Based on the best-selling Canadian novel by Shyam Selvadurai, the film was shot on location and set in Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 80s. Funny Boy explores the awakening of sexual identity by a young boy named Arjie.  As political tensions escalate to a boiling point between the minority Tamils and the majority Sinhalese, a young boy comes of age in a society and family that doesn’t embrace difference outside of societal norms. It feels like an international feature, but based on Academy rules, it isn’t.

The Hollywood Foreign Press has yet to respond to the backlash.


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