“Minari” Movie Night and Discussion Highlights


A picture of every attendee watching “Minari” as it plays on the projector in the Spartan Auditorium

Ava Pollock, Staff Reporter

Throughout the months of April and May, the Asian Filipino Club held a series of events to celebrate Asian culture around the school. One of the events that they planned was a movie night where attendees would watch the movie “Minari” and have a discussion afterward.

The “Minari” movie night and discussion event took place on Tuesday, April 29. It was held as a part of the Asian Pacific Month.

The previous Asian Pacific Month events before “Minari” movie night and discussion were the AFC Karaoke Night held on Tuesday, April 12 from 4 to 8 pm and the Martial Arts Showcase held on Tuesday, April 19 in the Jobe Lounge from 2 pm to 3:30 pm.

The “Minari” Movie & Discussion was held in the Spartan Auditorium in Building G, like the karaoke night, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Just like all of the other Asian Pacific Month events, the movie night was a joint effort between Student Life and the Asian Filipino Club.

“For the Asian Pacific Month we had some of the Asian Filipino Club officers work with Student Life,” said Asian Filipino Club Vice President Anya Alfante. “So Student Life helped a lot with buying the rights to the movie, bringing snacks, and stuff like that. So we didn’t have to worry about us being all by ourselves.”

Alfante joined the Asian Filipino Club in order to find people of similar backgrounds. Growing up, she lived in a predominantly white area.
When she joined the club, she knew she wanted a leadership position, but she didn’t want to be at the forefront of making decisions. She decided to run for Vice President and Secretary. Alfante became the Vice President.

“It [Asian Filipino Club] was really important because it’s a community that I feel like I’d like to belong in,” Alfante said. “Community in of itself is really important because I feel like communities are initially there to help, support, and build each other up. Even though we may try to do things by ourselves, we still need support from other people. 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 Asian Filipino Club because I wanted to make new friends and meet people who shared similar experiences growing up,” Baluyut said. “My friends and I thought it would be a fun experience to meet other Filipinos.”

Baluyut became the President of the Asian Filipino Club because she wanted to help the club get back on its feet after the pandemic.
“With the large membership we have now, I am glad I was able to be a part of leading the fresh start of AFC,” Baluyut said.

At the front of the auditorium, there was a food table being set up. They served two kinds of fried rice: chicken and vegetarian on one table, as well as various drinks on the other table.

Those walking into the Spartan Auditorium at the beginning of the event would be greeted with the sound of music playing and the projector scrolling through three different posters: the “Minari” Movie Night and Discussion event itself, the closing celebration that happened on May 4, and the general list of Asian Pacific Month events which have already happened.

When the event began, there were about 30 people attending the event including faculty members. Many tended to take up the top middle row of the auditorium. There were some people strewn about in other corners in the auditorium.

This event was joined by Professor Peter Han and his Intro to Asian Philosophies class. About 11 of the attendees were members of his class. Han had seen the movie a couple of times himself prior to the “Minari” movie night and discussion event.

“I’m a fan of the movie, I’ve seen it personally a couple times. I think a lot of the themes the students in my class, Asian Philosophies, definitely will connect with,” Han said. “Especially since we talk about multiculturalism from the Asian experience and Confucianism.”
Not only did Han like “Minari”, but he found himself relating to the movie based on his own personal experience.

“My parents are immigrants and they came here without speaking English and with no money,” Han said. “I definitely connected from personal experience.”

Helen Nguyen was one Intro to Asian Philosophies student that attended the event. She found the representation important.

“‘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 screen and be like, ‘Oh, these people look like me.’”

Once every attendee was seated and got a refreshment, the movie night began. Before the movie was played, both Student Government Advisor Gaea Atta Moy and Han gave a quick statement.

Han told the audience about the film itself, but he also taught the audience about the herb this movie was named after. He described the herb minari as healthy and nutritious, yet bitter. Han also added that it grows best in corners that are often overlooked.

Atta Moy then explained to us that the movie was spoken in both English and Korean. From there, she started the movie.

“Minari” is a 2020 drama movie directed and written by Lee Issac Chung. The movie was shown at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan 26, 2020 and it was officially released in theaters on Feb 12, 2021. It runs for one hour and 55 minutes.

The film has won several awards since the day of its release. According to IMDB, it won the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role award at the Academy Awards. It was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures.

The other awards it won includes Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTA Awards, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role at the Screen Actor Guild Awards and Best Intergenerational Film at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards.

On Rotten Tomatoes, it got 98% on the “tomatometer” and 87% on the “Audience Score.” The amount of money it scored in the Gross USA Box Office was $700,000.

“Minari”s main characters are the Yi family. The movie opens with the Yis in their car as they head to their new trailer home in Arkansas.
Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) is the patriarch of the family. He dreams of starting his own farm and selling Korean vegetables to the 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 of this move.

Anne Yi (Noel Cho) and David Yi (Alan S. Kim) are their children. David has a heart condition, and Monica frequently worries about him because of this. Jacob and Monica work as chicken sexers in order to get by while he continues to chase his American dream. Jacob hires an eccentric man named Paul (Will Patton) in order to help him with the crops.

However, starting an entire farm turns out to be harder than Jacob first thought. He faces his own struggles with the farm such as not being able to get water for the crops. At one point in the movie, 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 have her mother, Soon-ja Yi (Youn Yuh-jung), come from South Korea in order to have the extra help. David is at first put off by her due to her lack of English and her inability to cook or bake. To him, she doesn’t fit his schema of a grandmother, so David tends to avoid Soon-ja whenever he can.

Throughout the movie, the family goes through a multitude of different situations regarding the farm, the family, the home, and themselves.
Once the movie was done playing, there were a total of 23 people. Some people had to step out. Professor Han then invited the moviegoers to partake in a discussion relating to the movie. He had some set discussion points and invited others to respond with their thoughts and any experiences they had that relates to the movie.

Throughout the discussion, some people shared their personal experiences in relation to the movie.

“I think the discussion aspect is important because it really opens up people’s perspectives on parts or aspects others might not have caught,” Baluyut said. “Sharing personal experiences during the discussion really showed just how real the happenings in Minari can be.”

Earlier, Han mentioned that one of Minari’s themes was the American dream. One question that he asked was whether or not the American dream was worth it. Most of the students who were children of immigrants answered that in some way shape or form, their family experienced struggle while in America.

Another question that Han asked was, “Is giving up culture worth it?” It was brought up that giving up traditions helps assimilate into American culture, although this 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, and the other said it depends.
For Han, he said that the highlight of the discussion was seeing how many students connected with “Minari” and its depiction of the endeavors of the Asian-American immigrant family.

“While, of course, this can be broadened to a universal immigrant-family experience, it’s refreshing and affirming to see the rare Asian-American experience on film — and in a film that’s so well-made and acknowledged as such by both critics and the general audience,” Han said.

Nguyen thought that the highlight of the discussion was seeing how many immigrant students found the story relatable.

“In the discussion, it was mentioned a lot how many of the immigrant students felt how relatable this story was, that not everything works out the way you expect in the end,” Nguyen said. “That it was a story that showed not just the glorified success of these immigrants because for many of our parents and relatives, this wasn’t the case. ”

Out of all the people who attended, about 15 people raised their hand 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 representation of other Asians.”

Alfante also liked the way “Minari” didn’t just focus on the Yi family’s struggles, but also the happy times as well.

“I think it was nice because it didn’t entirely focus on the struggles of being Asian,” Alfante said. “I liked the way that it showed the mundane things about everyday life and the bonding moments in the family.”

While Asian Filipino Club hasn’t planned far into the Spring 2023 semester yet, the club plans to continue to celebrate AAPI month and Asian Culture far into the future. As for a repetition of the Asian Pacific month itself, there is nothing on the schedule as of yet.

“I think this [Asian Pacific Month] will be an annual thing,” said Alfante. “And that will be up to future officers to decide.”