2020 Sundance Winner “Minari” Chases American Dream and Oscars

Minari Campaigns for the 2021 Oscars

Earlier this year, director Lee Isaac Chung’s film Minari won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Lee Isaac Chung’s own upbringing inspired the movie that portrays a fictional story of a Korean-American family growing up in Arkansas in the hopes to live the American dream.

The Birth of Minari

After Director Chung’s daughter was born, he had a long hiatus where he started to ask himself, “Why don’t I tell the story that I’d ultimately wanted to make all along?” From there, Steven Yuen had heard about the movie through both Isaac’s and Steven’s mutual representative Christina Chao.

Isaac and Steven’s connection does not end with them having the same agent, in fact, Steven’s wife and Isaac are cousins. After realizing this, Steven read the script for Isaac’s film Minari and was absolutely captivated by the film’s honesty and similarities to Steven’s own immigrant experiences.

The title Minari, is also a term for a type of herb. As Isaac explains, “The interesting thing about it is that it’s a plant that will grow very strongly in its second season after it’s died and come back.” Isaac relates the double meaning of “Minari” as an “element” that will shine through in his film.

Minari” has the pedigree, performances and pastoral beauty for Best Picture.

Robert Rorke, Goldderby

What You Need To Know

  • “Minari” is the winner of the Audience and Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival
  • The film opened in L.A. on Dec 11th at the Mission Tiki Drive-In in Montclair before opening to a wider release in 2021
  • The movie is based on Korean-American director Lee Isaac Chung’s childhood in rural Arkansas
  • The film follows a Korean family in the 1980s as they move to a farm
  • The A24 film currently sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • Starring Steven Yeun from “The Walking Dead” and “Burning”

2021 Oscar Predictions for Best Original Screenplay

“The film is proving to be a strong player in categories like best picture and director, and star Steven Yeun has emerged as one of the leading contenders for best actor. If nominated, he would be the first Asian American nominee for lead actor.


Read Slate: “Oscar Hopeful Minari Is One of the Best Movies of the Year”

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