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Minari: Golden Globe Shifts the American Film to Foreign Film Category, Draws Ire Over Anti-Immigrant Language Rules

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Photo Credit- Left - Minari poster, from a24films.com Right - Signs for the Golden Globe Awards, by Peter Dutton, licensed under CC BY 2.0, Cropped

The Hollywood Film Press Association (HFPA), which conducts the Golden Globe awards, received criticism after an exclusive report from Variety revealed that several film categories had been shuffled around, including that of the American film Minari, which had been moved from the Best Picture category to the Best Foreign Film category.

As per the eligibility rules, any film with 50% of non-English dialogue is eligible for the foreign film category, making the film ineligible to win the Best Musical or Comedy or Drama award. Minari had allegedly failed to meet the language criteria of having over 50% of its dialogue in English.

However, several filmmakers including Lulu Wang, have criticised the HFPA for not being inclusive of immigrant films.

Directed by American director Lee Isaac Chung, Minari revolves around the story of a Korean family that moves to America to live its ‘American Dream’. Produced by American independent entertainment company A24, the film stars Korean-American and Korean actors like Steven Yeun, Yeri HanYoun Yuh Jung, Alan Kim, and Noel Kate Jo.

Several filmmakers, primarily of Asian descent, spoke out in favour of Minari, and criticised the HFPA for what they described as “antiquated rules”. The previous edition of the Golden Globes saw Wang’s The Farewell meet with a similar fate, when it was categorised as a foreign language film, not only at Golden Globe Awards, but also at the British Academy Film Awards, the Hollywood Critics’ Association Awards, and the Chicago Film Critics’ Association.

Wang was one of the first to voice her opinion to make the rules more inclusive.

Earlier than this year, Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite won the Oscars for the Best Picture and Best International Feature Film. In 2019, the film won the Best Foreign Language Film Award at both the Golden Globes and the British Academy Film Awards.

Many on social media joined in the criticism, and argued that Minari was an American film and should be eligible for the regular categories.

After films are submitted in the filmmakers’ preferred categories, the 89-member HFPA votes to either accept or deny the submission.

Silverscreen India reported earlier this month, that Deepa Mehta‘s Funny Boy was disqualified from the Best International Feature Film category at the Oscars. As per the official release, the film was disqualified “due to the amount of English dialogue in the film. The film will now be submitted for consideration in the Best Picture and general entry categories for the 93rd Academy Awards.”

In February, the Academy Awards renamed its Foreign Film category to the International Feature Film category to promote inclusivity. Parasite became the first film to win in this category. However, to be eligible for the Best Picture Award, the film needs to have a US release by the end of the given eligibility period.

Other films, like Promising Young Woman and Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, met a similar fate with the former being switched from comedy to the drama categories. Variety reported earlier this week, Maria Bakalova, who plays the daughter of the Kazakh-American journalist Borat in the American mockumentary has been switched to the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category, from the makers’ submission for the Best Supporting Actress. She will be contesting for the latter at both Oscars and Screen Actors’ Guild Awards.

The makers of the 2020 American black comedy film Promising Young Woman had submitted the film in the comedy category, which stood unaccepted by the HFPA. The film was shifted to the Best Drama category. The film’s lead actor Carey Mulligan was recently awarded as the Best Actress by the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Association. The film was also bestowed the Best Picture Award by the Chicago Film Critics’ Association.

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