OCA members stream Korean-American movie Minari before release date


Photo provided by Evie Kao.

Junior Evie Kao watches Minari at home prior to its official release date. The film was available to OCA members to stream within a 24 hour period thanks to the purchasing of tickets by OCA Greater Houston.

Sophia Hernandez, Features Editor

Five members of Bellaire’s OCA Advocates chapter streamed the Korean-American film “Minari” for free on Jan. 13, a month before its official release date. After the film, members attended a Q&A session featuring the movie’s director and cast, moderated by actress Sandra Oh. 

“I thought the event was really cool because I didn’t expect OCA to offer opportunities like this,” vice president and junior Vivian Dai said. “It made me realize how many connections OCA had.” 

Members received a 24-hour streaming period to watch the movie and Q&A session on Eventive

“The coordinator at OCA Greater Houston wanted to give us first dibs to the screening so people would become interested in joining Bellaire OCA,” co-founder, president, and junior Evie Kao said. 

Released in theaters on Feb. 12, the film follows the story of a Korean immigrant family as they struggle to achieve their version of the American Dream on a rural Arkansas farm in the 1980s. 

Since its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan 26. 2020, “Minari”  has 65 awards and 157 nominations –  including the U.S Dramatic Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award. 

“I had heard good things about it and was excited to watch the movie,” Kao said. “The film was very well-produced and it had a lot of emotional parts that dealt with cultural identity.” 

The screening, which attracted more than 100 people trying to stream the movie at once,   crashed a few times throughout the night.  

“OCA Greater Houston is planning on doing another screening before the official release date so more youth can watch the movie,” Kao said. 

OCA member and freshman Irene Zheng said she recommends “Minari” once it is available on streaming services. 

“Certain parts of the movie are very relatable, especially as an immigrant family,” Zheng said. “Although my family isn’t Korean, I too felt that weird feeling of trying to fit in but still not being ‘completely American.’” 

Zheng said the Q&A session, moderated by Golden Globe winning Asian-Canadian actress

Sandra Oh, let members hear from the actors who played the main protagonists of the movie as well as director Lee Isaac Chung.

“It was an interesting session because the cast and director shared their own experiences as immigrant families and how that influenced their roles in filming Minari,” Zheng said. “It made the movie even more interesting and relatable.” 

Kao said the event was a great way to get Asian-American youth interested in the arts and filmmaking, especially since the movie has achieved critical acclaim. 

“It’s good to be exposed to Asian-American representation in different career fields,” Kao said.  “OCA typically focuses on civic engagement, not necessarily the arts, so this event was a good break for members because of how on-edge people felt during election season.” 

Kao said there were several scenes that provided a unique story from a different perspective. 

“Minari broke the usual stereotypes of Asian immigrants flocking to American cities and becoming nail salon workers or restaurant workers by showing a family striving to become farmers in the Midwest,” Kao said. 

Dai said the film was a refreshing watch because it spotlighted a tale of the American Dream from the unusual perspective of an Asian-American family.

“Most of the literature and movies we are exposed to in school and popular culture typically showcase white people trying to achieve the American Dream,” Dai said. “With all the xenophobia recently experienced by Asian-Americans due to the coronavirus, it was awesome to finally see some more representation in the media.” 

OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. To join Bellaire’s chapter, join their remind @ocabhs or follow them on Instagram @ocabellairehs.