“Minari” movie night and discussion highlights – Observer
Throughout April and May, the Asian Filipino Club held a series of events to celebrate Asian culture around the school. One of the events they proposed was a movie night where attendees watched the movie “Minari” and had a discussion afterwards.
The “Minari” movie night and chat event took place on Tuesday, April 29. It was held as part of Asia-Pacific Month.
Previous Asia-Pacific Month events before the “Minari” movie night and discussion were the AFC Karaoke Night held on Tuesday, April 12 from 4-8 p.m. and the Martial Arts Showcase that s is held on Tuesday, April 19 at the Jobe Lounge from 2 to 3 p.m. :30h.
The “Minari” movie and discussion took place in the Spartan Auditorium in Building G, as did Karaoke Night, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Like all other events, the movie night was a joint effort between Student Life and the Asian Filipino Club.
“For Asia Pacific Month, some of the leaders of the Asian Filipino Club worked with Student Life,” said Anya Alfante, Vice President of the Asian Filipino Club. “Student Life helped out a lot with buying the movie rights, bringing snacks and stuff like that. So we didn’t have to worry about being alone.
Alfante joined the Asian Filipino Club in order to find people from similar backgrounds. Growing up, she lived in a predominantly white area.
When she joined the club, she knew she wanted a managerial position, but she didn’t want to be at the forefront of decisions. She decided to run for the positions of vice-president and secretary. Alfante became vice president.
“This [Asian Filipino Club] was really important because it’s a community that I would like to be part of,” Alfante said. “The community itself is really important because I feel like communities are initially there to help, support and strengthen each other. Even if we try to do things on our own, we still need the support of others. Especially when you’re a person of color.
Asian Filipino club president Adeena Baluyut joined the club for a similar reason to Alfante.
“I joined the Asian Filipino Club because I wanted to make new friends and meet people who had similar experiences growing up,” Baluyut said. “My friends and I thought it would be a fun experience to meet other Filipinos.”
Baluyut became president of the Asian Filipino Club because she wanted to help the club get back on its feet after the pandemic.
“With the large number of members we have now, I am happy to have been able to help lead the new start of the AFC,” Baluyut said.
At the front of the auditorium, a catering table was being set up. They served two kinds of fried rice: chicken and vegetarian on one table, and various drinks on the other table.
Those entering the Spartan Auditorium at the start of the event would be greeted by the sound of music and the projector scrolling through three different posters: the Minari Movie Night and Discussion event itself, the closing celebration is held on May 4th and the general list of Asia-Pacific Month events that have already taken place.
When the event started, there were about 30 people attending the event, including faculty members. Many tended to occupy the top row in the middle of the auditorium. There were a few people scattered around in other corners of the auditorium.
This event was joined by Professor Peter Han and his introductory course in Asian philosophies. About 11 of the participants were members of his class. Han himself had seen the film several times before the movie night and the “Minari” discussion.
“I think a lot of themes that students in my class, Asian philosophies, will definitely connect to,” Han said. “Especially since we are talking about multiculturalism based on the Asian experience and Confucianism.”
Not only did Han love “Minari,” but he found himself relating to the film based on his own personal experience.
“My parents are immigrants and they came here without speaking English and without money,” Han said. “I definitely connected through personal experience.”
Helen Nguyen was an introductory Asian philosophies student who attended the event. She enjoyed the performance.
“‘Minari’ has a very Asian cast, and it’s important to see a lot of Asian representation in the media,” Nguyen said. “Especially as someone who grew up as an Asian immigrant, I didn’t get to see a lot of movies where I could look on the screen and say, ‘Oh, these people look like me. “”
Once each attendee is seated and given food, movie night begins. Before the film aired, student government adviser Gaea Atta Moy and Han gave a brief statement.
Han told the audience about the movie itself, but he also taught the audience about the herb that this movie is named after. He described minari grass as wholesome and nutritious, but bitter. He also added that it grows best in corners that are often overlooked.
Atta Moy then explained to us that the film was spoken in English and Korean. From there, she started the film.
“Minari” is a 2020 drama film directed and written by Lee Isaac Chung. The film screened at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020 and it was officially released in theaters on February 12, 2021. It is one hour and 55 minutes long.
The film has won several awards since the day of its release. According to IMDB, it won Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the Oscars. It was nominated for Best Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Direction, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Achievement in Music Written for the Motion Picture.
Other awards it has won include Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTA Awards, Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the Screen Actor Guild Awards, and Best Cross-Generational Film at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards.
On Rotten Tomatoes, it scored 98% on the “tomatometer” and 87% on the “Audience Score”. The amount of money it scored at the US box office gross was $700,000.
The main characters of “Minari” are the Yi family. The film opens with the Yis in their car as they drive to their new trailer in Arkansas.
Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) is the family patriarch. He dreams of starting his own farm and selling Korean vegetables to vendors in Dallas, Texas, so he moves the family to rural Arkansas from California to start a better life. Monica Yi (Han Ye-ri) is the matriarch. She is initially skeptical about this decision.
Anne Yi (Noel Cho) and David Yi (Alan S. Kim) are their children. David has heart disease and Monica often worries about him because of it. Jacob and Monica work as chicken sexers in order to get by while he continues to pursue the American dream. Jacob hires an eccentric man named Paul (Will Patton) to help him with the crops.
However, starting an entire farm turns out to be more difficult than Jacob thought. He faces his own difficulties with the farm, such as not being able to get water for the crops. At one point in the film, the people who were going to take Jacob’s crops cancel the order at the last minute.
Eventually, David and Monica need extra help watching the kids. So Monica decides to bring her mother, Soon-ja Yi (Youn Yuh-jung), to South Korea for extra help. David is initially put off by her due to her lack of English and her inability to cook or bake. To him, she doesn’t fit his grandmother’s scheme, so David tends to avoid Soon-ja whenever he can.
Throughout the film, the family goes through a multitude of different situations regarding the farm, the family, the house, and themselves.
When the movie was over, there were a total of 23 people. Some people had to go out. Professor Han then invited moviegoers to participate in a discussion related to the film. He had fixed prompts on his phone and invited others to respond with their thoughts and any experiences they had relating to the film.
Throughout the discussion, some people shared their personal experiences with the film.
“I think the discussion aspect is important because it really opens up people’s perspectives on parts or aspects that others might not have grasped,” Baluyut said. “The sharing of personal experiences during the discussion really showed how real the events in Minari can be.”
Earlier, Han mentioned that one of Minari’s themes was the American Dream. One question he asked was whether the American Dream was worth it. Most of the students who were children of immigrants responded that in one way or another their family had experienced difficulties while in America.
Another question Han asked was, “Is giving up cultivation worth it?” It’s been talked about that letting go of traditions helps assimilate into American culture, although it comes at the cost of not really being able to connect with family.
Han then asked the question, “Is America welcoming?” Only two people responded. One said yes, the other said it depends.
For Han, he said the highlight of the discussion was seeing how many students were connected to “Minari” and that’s the description of the Asian-American immigrant family’s efforts.
“While, of course, this could be expanded to a universal immigrant family experience, it is refreshing and affirming to see the rare Asian-American experience in film – and in a film so well made and recognized as such by critics and the general public,” Han said.
Among all the people present, about 15 people raised their hands when Han asked who liked the movie.
“I really enjoyed the movie,” said ECC student, Asian Filipino Club member and movie night attendee Ferd Gubaton. “It was interesting [and] it was really cool to see the performance of other Asians.
Alfante also liked how “Minari” not only focused on the struggles of the Yi family, but also the happy times.
“I think it was good because he didn’t focus entirely on the difficulties of being Asian,” Alfante said. “I liked how it showed the mundane things of everyday life and the bonding times in the family.”
Although the Asian Filipino Club has yet to plan for the 2023 spring semester, the club plans to continue celebrating AAPI month and Asian culture well into the future.
“I think this [Asian Pacific Month] will be an annual thing,” Alfante said, “and that will be up to future officers to decide.