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‘Minari’ Director Lee Isaac Chung on What Success of ‘Parasite’ Means to Him

The Korean-language film won the festival's Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year.


Lee Isaac Chung’s powerful Korean immigrant drama “Minari” took the 2020 Sundance Film Festival by storm — and all the way to the win for the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic Competition. The film’s ensemble includes Korean-American actor Steven Yeun, who led 2018’s “Burning” to immense critical acclaim. This milestone moment for a Korean-language film at Sundance arrived less than a month after Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” made history at the Academy Awards, becoming not only the first South Korean film to be nominated for Best International Feature Film, but also the first to be nominated for Best Picture. While at the Sundance Film Festival, Chung and his cast stopped by the IndieWire Studio, presented by Dropbox, to discuss “Minari” but also the impact that “Parasite” has had on them.

Actress Youn Yuh Jung, when asked what film she’s rooting for at the 2020 Oscars said, “Because we are Korean, we are on Bong Joon Ho’s side.” At Sunday’s Oscars, Bong is also up for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and the film is also up for Best Editing and Best Production Design. “Parasite” will surely not go home empty-handed.

The “Minari” team also hopes “Parasite” helps audiences embrace Korean-language films, such as their own. “It’s great to see that people are going into a Korean-language film here in the U.S. and embracing it, because we’re a Korean-language film but we also see ourselves as a very American film,” director Lee Isaac Chung said. “We’re definitely benefiting from the work that he’s done but we are also hoping to take it into this new direction as well, telling a very American story with Korean dialogue.”

A24 will release “Minari” theatrically in theaters stateside this year, though no formal release date has been set. Here’s the movie’s official synopsis: “A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, ‘Minari’ follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, ‘Minari’ shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.”

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