The recent impact of Asian directors in film
May 21, 2021
In celebration of Asian and Pacific American Heritage month, the LRHS Lightning Flash presents some of the top three movies recently published by Asian producers and studios. Following Governor Hogan’s lift on certain gathering restrictions, theatres have been opening and operating at 50% capacity per the guidelines announced in March. After almost a year devoid of indoor showings, students are now allowed, at their own discretion, to attend movies in person. The following are some of the top picks, all made by Asian directors, that can be viewed both in theatres and online.
Demon Slayer: Mugen Train is the continuation of the internationally popular anime Demon Slayer. Just this past month, the film made almost 24 million dollars at the box office, ranking third in the United States.
The story follows a young boy named Tanjiro Kamado, voiced by Natsuki Hanae, whose younger sister is turned into a monster, and his journey to turn her back into a human. It is a tale of familial love, drama, and as always, gripping action that keeps audiences at the edge of their seats. Tanjiro, along with a crew of other warriors, battles in a fantastical rendition of medieval Japan. Demon Slayer, the TV show, was first serialized from its original drawn and written form to a full blown animation in 2019. Since its addition to Netflix, it has become one of the top shows in recent years. The movie serves as a sequel to the first season, as the main characters are thrust into a battle to save a train full of citizens.
Minari features a story about a Korean American family that moves to the midwest in search of a new life. The film has already been critically acclaimed and has won
numerous awards including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe for Best Forgein Language Film.
The movie tangentially reflects the life of the director, Lee Isaac Chung, who himself spent part of his childhood as an Asian American in rural Arkansas. Minari follows this family as they set out to cultivate crops for a living and confront the conflicts that ensue. However, the movie also paints a tender world that taps upon the core themes of Asians in America and the meaning of chasing the American Dream. The film is brought to life with actors such as Steven Yeun, who continues his successful acting career following his role in the Walking Dead, and Youn Yuh-Jung, a legendary Korean actress with an over 50 year career.
Nomadland is another critically acclaimed film, based on the book Nomadland by Jessica Bruder, that has achieved recognition for numerous awards. Among its accomplishments, it has been successful at prestigious film festivals, winning the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and finally at the globally renowned Academy Awards, coming first in Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress.
Nomadland follows Fern, played by Frances McDormand, a recently laid off worker, as she travels around the United States. The film explores a world of workers in America, unemployed and underfunded as a result of the Great Recession, who traverse the landscape in search of temporary employment. The production of the film, in comparison with the critical appeal and accolades, was based on a five million dollar budget. The indie nature of the movie’s creation partly reflects the savvy and resourcefulness of the characters featured in Nomadland, with Chinese American director Chloe Zhao at the helm of a champion of low budget filmmaking.