‘Minari’ wins Best Foreign Language Film after Golden Globes controversy

In the wake of contention over the fact that “Minari” was not eligible to compete in the Best Picture — Drama category at the Golden Globe Awards, the Lee Issac Chung film won Best Foreign Language Film at the awards ceremony on Sunday.

Produced by American companies A24 and Plan B and directed by Chung, an American filmmaker born in Denver, “Minari” was not allowed to compete in the Best Picture — Drama or Best Picture — Musical or Comedy categories because of its classification as a Best Foreign Language Film nominee. The decision rankled many prominent filmmakers and caused a strong backlash against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — one of many controversies the group has faced this awards season.

“‘Minari’ was only eligible for the Best Foreign Language Film category due to the HFPA rules on language, so the film was submitted to meet these rules; there was no choice involved in the matter,” Chung told Vanity Fair. The dialogue in “Minari” is spoken primarily in the Korean language, and the Golden Globes require films where English makes up less than 50 percent of the spoken language to compete for Best Foreign Language Film.

That decision left “Minari,” a major Oscar contender that landed multiple nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards including Best Ensemble, without the chance to compete against fellow Best Picture favorites like “Nomadland” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Beyond the Best Picture controversy, “Minari” was also snubbed in the Golden Globes acting categories, leaving stars Steven Yeun and Youn Yuh-Jung outside the competition. (Both actors are expected to factor heavily in the Oscars race after landing nominations from the Screen Actors Guild.)

Speaking to Vanity Fair in that earlier interview, Chung — a Best Director contender at the Oscars who similarly failed to earn recognition from the Golden Globes — said he was somewhat sympathetic to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association rules, but that he hoped the controversy served as a wake-up call for the industry.

“There aren’t that many films that are actually being made in America in languages that are other than English. I think that’s why these categories have kind of formed,” he said. “And it’s not just up to the Hollywood Foreign Press. It’s just the entire culture. It’s the filmmakers, it’s the studios. It’s the people who are watching films, the choices that they make, and the types of films that they watch. We need to keep showing that the categories that are there are not necessarily fitting to the reality of who we are as human beings.”

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