On February 28, 2021, the 78th Golden Globe Awards were held. This year’s awards were a socially distanced and virtual affair thanks to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
During this year’s awards, two Asian and Asian-American directors made a splash.
Lee Isaac Chung’s film, Minari, won the Best Motion Picture- Foreign Language category. The film, which is about a Korean-American family searching for the American dream during the 1980s, was shrouded in controversy.
Minari received a nomination in the Best Foreign-Language Film category instead of the Best Motion Picture category because it failed to “meet the Globe’s 50 percent English language requirement.” The characters speak Korean in the film, but the film was shot in America and backed by American companies.
In an interview with the New York Times, Chung stated, “Maybe the positive side of all of this is that we’ve made a film that challenges some of those existing categories and adds to the idea that an American film might look and sound very differently from what we’re used to.”
In his acceptance speech, Chung, who is American, seemingly took a stab at the language requirements for Best Motion Picture: “Minari is about a family. It’s a family trying to learn how to speak a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language; it’s a language of the heart.”
— Golden Globe Awards (@goldenglobes) March 1, 2021
However, another film by an Asian director, Nomadland, earned the award for Best Motion Picture-Drama. Nomadland, which is about a woman who lost everything in the Great Recession and journeys throughout the Western United States as a modern-day nomad, was directed by Chloé Zhao.
Zhao was one of three women to be nominated for the award. Regina King (One Night in Miami) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) also earned nods.
“This award belongs to the whole Nomadland team,” Zhao said. “Thank you, everyone who made it possible for me to do what I love.”
Zhao, 38, made history as the second woman to win the Best Director Golden Globe award. She is second woman after Barbra Streisand who won for Yentl in 1984. Moreover, Zhao is the first Asian director and the first woman of color to nab the award. Her win prompted Streisand to celebrate on Twitter.
It’s about time! Congratulations Chloé! Well deserved!
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) March 1, 2021
The Golden Globes, like many other award shows held in America, went on with a shadow of controversy hanging over them due to the lack of diversity in the voting categories each year. This year’s awards were slammed for not having black representation within the voting body as well as allegedly having ethical issues within the ranks. Show hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey made quips throughout the night about the lack of diversity within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). Meanwhile, Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up, stated “We listened tonight and hoped to hear the HFPA respond with some awareness that the industry wide discontent with your organization’s practices goes far beyond what you offered tonight and in the days preceding.”
As always, a hope for change and a charge for diversity is always welcome, and hopefully some of the wins by minority actors, actresses, and directors help signify legitimate change instead of a pittance to quell voices that want representation.
Photo cr. Image Journal, CNN, BBC