Programme

Minari

Lee Isaac Chung

USA, 2020 / 115 min / English & Korean OV with French & Dutch subt. / Drama

LuxFilmLab – 2nd June 2021

A Korean-American family pursue their American Dream and start a farm in 1980s Arkansas.

In the mid-1980s, David, a seven-year-old Korean-American boy, gets his life turned upside down when his father, Jacob, decides to move their family from the West Coast to rural Arkansas and start a farm in pursuit of his own American Dream. David’s mother Monica is aghast when the farm turns out to be a mobile home in the middle of nowhere, while naughty little David and his sister are bored and aimless. When their equally mischievous and foul-mouthed but incredibly loving grandmother arrives from Korea to live with them, her unfamiliar ways arouse David’s curiosity and completely change the family home. Meanwhile, Jacob, hell-bent on creating a farm on untapped soil, throws their finances, his marriage, and the stability of the family into jeopardy.

“Inspired by his own upbringing, writer-director Lee Isaac Chung creates a gorgeous, delicate American Dream story by infusing it with Korean melodrama and the playful charm of a Yasujiro Ozu film, as the Yi family embraces their highs and endures their lows. Each character is drawn with loving authenticity and depth, while Steven Yeun shines as Jacob, a man determined to achieve his dreams at all costs.” Sundance Film Festival

Screenings
Wed 02/06 19:00 Ciné Utopia EN & KR OV with FR & NL subt. Public https://kinepolis.lu/en/films/lux-film-lab-minari
Wed 02/06 19:30 Ciné Utopia EN & KR OV with FR & NL subt. Public https://kinepolis.lu/en/films/lux-film-lab-minari

Minari is a gentle, lovely picture, one that acknowledges there really is no ‘immigrant experience,’ beyond the pure human experience of finding yourself adjusting to a new environment. The film—which is semi-autobiographical, reflecting Chung’s own experience of growing up on a farm in rural Arkansas—enfolds reflections on isolation and loneliness, on masculine pride and duty, on just the pure weirdness of being a kid, let alone the child of immigrants. If its setting is specific, its vibe is universal.” Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 26/02/2021

Minari benefits from the maturity and perspective Chung brings to the project. Waiting until his early 40s to make sense of memories from when he was 6, the year his grandmother came to live with them in the U.S., Chung transforms the specificity of his upbringing into something warm, tender and universal. […] there’s a gentleness to Minari that makes the entire film, even the setbacks, feel refreshing, like a catnap taken in full sun. Chung is now older than his parents were at the time, and that gives him a second perspective on things, which can be felt in scenes that David couldn’t possibly have witnessed […] Minari invites us to care about this family […] but even more importantly, as performed by an all-around terrific ensemble — the characters are easy to admire, and even easier to love.” Peter Debruge, Variety, 29/01/2020

“Chung’s touch is careful and precise. Everything is weighed. Nothing is wasted. […] It all seems simple and straightforward. Minari is modest, specific and thrifty, like the lives it surveys. There’s nothing small about it, though, because it operates at the true scale of life.” A.O. Scott, The New York Times, 11/02/2021

“the charming low-key humor and the actors are all winning without being coy or cutesy. Minari is a modest pic but very human and accessible, and quite distinctively so in comparison to the vast majority of high-concept and/or violent movies rolling out today.” Todd McCarthy, 27/01/2020, The Hollywood Reporter

“Yeun demonstrates his versatility as an actor in his first film performance since Lee Chang-dong’s Burning. Though Jacob is caring, he’s unable to reflect on his own domineering attitudes, as he presumes control over his family’s direction. Minari’s most powerful moments are those that find the highly competent Jacob confronting things that he can’t change or manipulate […] Chung’s quasi-autobiographical look at an Asian American family making their way on the edge of the Arkansas wilderness serves as a reminder that white people don’t have a monopoly on the pastoral imagination. […] Minari is a tender, if too neat, portrait of an immigrant experience” Pat Brown, Slant Magazine, 06/12/2020

Minari reminds us of how much heritage is never mentioned and ultimately lost in the busy labor of assimilation. While most of the dialogue in Minari is in Korean, we never get a glimpse of Monica and Jacob passing on their traditions to Anne and David in any meaningful way. What Korean legacies the children inherit come in the way of food, which David is sometimes repulsed by. […] As many immigrants know, these struggles are inherited by the children of immigrants, their learned trauma revealing itself in less poetic ways: in a persistent belief in conditional love, in a fragmented sense of identity (neither Asian enough, nor American enough), and an awkward and outdated understanding of gender roles. Minari is a powerful film because it dares to lay bare these painful opposites that contribute to our happiness. ‘Immigration stories are family stories,’ the film’s director, Lee Isaac Chung, said in an interview with NPR. ‘What often gets overlooked in that story is the fact that a lot of that is happening due to the feeling of love, that feeling of a desire to sacrifice for each other.’ In Minari, those daily sacrifices are depicted by what’s not shown, by what the family learns to do without. And ultimately, in allowing a Korean-American family to not actually be defined by this suffering, the film somehow arrives at an incredibly honest portrayal of life as a newcomer.” Michelle No, The New York Times, 16/04/2021

Awards
  • Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival, 2020 (USA)
  • U.S Dramatic Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival, 2020 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, BAFTA Awards, 2021 (UK)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Yuh-Jung Youn, Academy Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language, Golden Globes, 2021 (USA)
  • Movie of the Year, AFI Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Independent Film, Hollywood Critics Association, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Hollywood Critics Association, 2021 (USA)
  • Spotlight Award for the Best Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Palm Springs International Film Festival, 2021 (USA)
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Yuh-Jung Youn, Screen Actors Guild Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Screenplay, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards, 2021 (Canada)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, 2021 (Canada)
  • Best Foreign Language Film, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, 2021 (Canada)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Director, Austin Film Critis Association Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Film, Austin Film Critis Association Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Austin Film Critics Association Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Original Screenplay, Austin Film Critis Association Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Foreign Language Film, Austin Film Critis Association Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Ensemble, Austin Film Critis Association Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Black Film Critics Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Original Screenplay, Black Film Critics Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Foreign Language Film, Broadcast Film Critics Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Young Actor – Alan Kim, Broadcast Film Critics Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Film, New York Film Critics Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Columbus Film Critics Association, 2021 (USA
  • Best Foreign Language Film, Columbus Film Critics Association, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Foreign Language Film, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Russell Smith Award, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Foreign Language Film, Denver Film Critics Society Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Detroit Film Critics Society Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Ensemble, Detroit Film Critics Society Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Original Screenplay, Detroit Film Critics Society Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, DiscussingFilm Critics Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Motion Picture, DiscussingFilm Critics Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Screenplay, Dublin International Film Festival, 2021 (Ireland)
  • Dorian Award for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, 2021 (USA)
  • Film Performance of the Year - Supporting Actress for Yuh-Jung Youn, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, 2021 (USA
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Georgia Film Critics Association, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress – Yuh-Jung Youn, Gold Derby Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Supporting Actress, National Board of Review, 2021 (USA)
  • Best Original Screenplay, National Board of Review, 2021 (USA)
  • Audience Choice Award, Heartland International Film Festival, 2020 (USA)
  • Excellence in Acting Award – Steven Yeun, Denver International Film Festival, 2020 (USA)
  • People’s Choice Award – Narrative Feature, Denver International Film Festival, 2020 (USA)
Cast & Credits
Cast 
Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Scott Haze, Yuh-Jung Youn, Will Patton
Screenplay 
Lee Isaac Chung
Cinematographer 
Lachlan Milne
Sound 
Dmitri Makarov
Set 
Yong Ok Lee
Music 
Emile Mosseri
Production 
Plan B Entertainment
Distribution 
September Film
Biography

Lee Isaac Chung grew up in Lincoln, Arkansas, on a small farm in the Ozark Mountains. He completed a BA in biology at Yale University and an MFA in film studies at the University of Utah. His first feature film was the Rwandan family drama Munyurangabo, which premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival to great acclaim. Next, he directed the two feature-length films Lucky Life (2010) and Abigail Harm (2012). Minari (2020) is his fourth feature.

Filmography
  • 2019 – Minari
  • 2015 – I Have Seen My Last Born (Co-director)
  • 2012 – Abigail Harm
  • 2010 – Lucky Life
  • 2007 – Munyurangabo
  • 2005 – Los coyotes (short)
  • 2005 – Sex and Coffee (short)
  • 2004 – Highway (short)