Close Close
Promotional image for the film Minari

World Cinema Series Returns to Pollak Theater to Conclude 2021-2022 Season with Discussion of Minari

By Anna A. Gwiazda

On April 26, 2022, the World Cinema Series hosted its first in-person event since early in the spring 2020 semester. Dr. Thomas Pearson, the World Cinema Series host and professor of History and Anthropology, kicked off the event with introductory remarks about the film. Directed by Lee Issac Chung, Minari has won several awards including six nominations at the 2021 Oscar awards. This event was particularly special because it was Dr. Pearson’s last time hosting a World Cinema Series event after the many years he has dedicated to this film series. He explained that Minari was the perfect movie to conclude his career in the World Cinema Series as it is heartwarming and depicts the strong bonds of a family.

Minari is a bittersweet film that tells the story of a Korean American family that moves to a farm in Arkansas in pursuit of the “American Dream.” The movie follows a married couple, Jacob Yi and Monica Yi, who migrate from South Korea to seek a better life in America for their two American-born children, David and Anne. While Monica and Jacob have worked in the chick sexing business for years, Jacob dreams of owning a farm where he can sell Korean vegetables to make a living for his family. The Yi couple’s relationship struggles from the unstable position that Jacob’s farm passion presents for the family. Another pivotal character in the film is Monica’s mother, Soon-Ja. She uproots her life in Korea to move in with the Yi family to help care for her two grandchildren. Soon-Ja is a beloved character in this film who is known for her foul mouth and witty nature.

Minari is unique as it is told from the perspectives of all the characters in the film, which offers the audience a window into the different characters’ realities and internal struggles. Themes of displacement, instability, assimilation, the preservation of culture, and resilience are integrated into the film. Furthermore, Minari is a beautiful cinematic work that transforms audience members to the peaceful farmlands of Arkansas.

The event concluded with an engaging discussion led by Claude Taylor, a professor in the Department of Communication. Prof. Taylor noted that everyone can connect to one of the characters in the movie and the storyline, which made the film especially engaging. He also spoke about the symbolism of the minari plant, which is a plant native to Korea. The minari plant symbolizes that the Yi family is from Korea, but moved to America to plant their own roots in this harsh and unfamiliar country. The discussion was then opened to the audience members who shared positive feedback and insights about the film.

This World Cinema Series in-person event was highly successful. There was a strong turnout and robust discussion, which reflected the enthusiasm for the opportunity to return to in-person engagement. The success of the event can be attributed to Dr. Pearson’s hard work and vision in planning the 2021-2022 series, as well as the dedication and leadership he has exhibited in hosting the World Cinema Series for so many years.