A Colorado Springs family’s close connection to an Oscar nominated director

Lee Isaac Chung’s sister talks about their family’s pursuit of the American dream
Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 11:01 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A Colorado Springs family has a close connection to this year’s Academy Awards.

Oscar nominated filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung was born near Denver. Colorado was the first place his father found work after immigrating to the United States from Korea in the 1980s. Chung’s sister, Leisle Chung now lives in Colorado Springs, as well as their parents.

“Immigration stories are actually love stories about families and what they’re willing to sacrifice for one another,” said Leisle Chung.

Her brother’s movie is inspired by the family’s pursuit of the American dream. After their stint in Colorado, they moved to rural Arkansas for the parents to be chicken sexers, a job with challenging work conditions. Lee Isaac and Leisle spent most of their childhood there before going to college. Leisle says, her brother discovered what would become his passion in his senior year of pre-med school at Yale University.

“He took a film class, because he had to fulfill a grad requirement by taking something in the arts, and he just fell in love and that ended up being his career.”

After several years of film making, Chung’s latest work titled “Minari” won the Golden Globe for best film in a foreign language. It’s nominated in six Oscar categories, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress.

Leisle Chung added, “One thing I will say about Isaac is that he has always been someone who can see the good in other people and the good in situations and so I think he was able to do that with this movie, because he took a time in our life that was really challenging, and he was able to make something incredibly beautiful out of that.”

Leisle Chung is also doing free “Minari” screenings for southern Colorado’s frontline pandemic workers.

“It’s just our way of saying thank you to the community,” she added. The screenings start Thursday, April 1, and will last two weeks.

Click here if you’ve been a frontline worker during the pandemic and would like to attend a screening.

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