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Little White Lies #88

LWLies 88: The Minari issue

From the editors:

When I first saw Minari at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, I pretty much sobbed from start to finish. Granted the timing wasn’t great: three weeks before I flew out to Utah, my Grandma had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I hadn’t quite realised that watching a film about the relationship between a young boy and his maternal grandmother might be liable to emotionally devastate me. By the time the house lights came up and the cast and crew appeared for the post-film Q&A, I was a red-eyed, puffy-cheeked mess, and Lee Isaac Chung’s film had secured a place in my heart.

Just over a year later, plenty of things have changed, but Minari remains cemented in my heart and mind as something truly special. As such, we’re thrilled to present LWLies 88: The Minari issue. Being able to champion films that have resonated with us is one of the greatest joys of working in film criticism, and a lot of love and thought has gone into creating a magazine that feels as special and intimate as this semi-autobiographical film about Lee Isaac Chung’s childhood growing up on a farm in rural Arkansas.

This is the fifth issue we’ve produced in lockdown, and we’re still longing for the day when we can safely return to cinemas. Hopefully, that isn’t too far away, but in the meantime, it’s a privilege to celebrate films like Minari, which have so much love and life in every frame.

Set against the sun-washed backdrop of the American south in the 1980s, the Yi family relocate from California to Arkansas as patriarch David (Steven Yeun) chases his dream of starting a farm selling Korean produce. His wife Monica (Han Ye-ri) is sceptical, while their young children Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and David (Alan S Kim) don’t quite to know what to make of the move. After they’re joined by Monica’s mother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung) who moves from Korea to be with the family, things become more complicated, as the challenges of unforgiving farm work and intergenerational living begin to manifest.

But what shines through in Minari is a sense of faith – in both one’s self and one another. This is a film about good people in difficult circumstances, and learning to feel your way through a world that rarely offers us a chance for quiet reflection. We’re delighted to have worked with some of our favourite writers and illustrators to explore Minari in detail.

Brighten up your year with our illustrated celebration of Lee Isaac Chung’s charming immigrant fable.

On the Cover

We turned to Edinburgh-based artist Amy Moss for this issue, tasking her with creating a portrait of Alan S Kim as David Yi. She used watercolour pencils to create the cover illustration and endpapers for this issue, beautifully realising a naive style in keeping with David’s mischievous spirit. We hope you love her work as much as we do!

As a special treat, you’ll also find some photocopiable paper aeroplane designs inside, illustrated by Apollonia, the eight-year-old daughter of a longtime friend and collaborator of ours, Stéphanie Sergeant.

In this issue

A review of Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari
Kambole Campbell delves into Lee Isaac Chung’s sun-bleached cine-memoir.

Being Yourself
Hannah Woodhead picks apart the themes of Minari with its director, Lee Isaac Chung, and two of its stars, Steven Yeun and Alan S Kim.

In Another Country: An A-Z of Diaspora on Screen
Leila Latif and David Jenkins offer an alphabetical tour of immigrant communities on film.

Flower Power
Phuong Le revisits the first US film to boast a fully-Asian cast: Henry Koster’s 1961 musical, Flower Drum Song.

Les Enfants Terribles
Charles Bramesco grinds his axe against the wheel of terrible child performances in movies.

Dimensions of Dialogue
Grace Barber-Plentie and Rōgan Graham explain how they amplified Black voices around the release of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series.

Threads: The Baseball Cap
Christina Newland’s regular column on clothes and film unloads the political weight of the baseball cap.

Illustration in this issue by Seung Won Chun, Callie Mastrianni, Stéphanie Sergeant, Lucia Vinti and Laurene Boglio.