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"It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language," writer-director Lee Isaac Chung said in his acceptance speech.

By Rachel Yang
February 28, 2021 at 10:20 PM EST
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Minari is reaping a bountiful harvest.

The acclaimed drama took home the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes on Sunday. The favorite in this category, it beat out La Llorona, Another Round, Two of Us, and The Life Ahead.

In his acceptance speech, writer-director Lee Isaac Chung thanked his cast and also spoke of how Minari transcends "any American language."

"Minari is about a family. It's a family trying to learn how to speak a language of its own," he said. "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."

Starring Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, and Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari has received critical praise since it bowed at Sundance in January. It was favored as a Best Drama contender, so it was controversial when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association decided to place it in the Best Foreign Language Film category because more than 50 percent of its spoken dialogue is not in English (the characters also speak Korean throughout the movie). On Sunday, many fans even noticed that Minari's country of origin was listed as "USA."

"Never thought the word 'USA' and 'Best Motion Picture Foreign Language' would go together but here we are," one commenter tweeted in response.

Minari's depiction of a Korean American family's journey in rural Arkansas was heralded by filmmakers like Lulu Wang for being an American film through and through, and its perceived snub provoked conversations on social media about the label of foreignness for narratives centered on people of color in this country. There was similar a controversy in 2019 around putting Wang's celebrated film The Farewell in the Foreign Language Film category despite it focusing on a Chinese American woman (Awkwafina).

"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 characterize American as only English-speaking."

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