‘Little Women’ Star Eliza Scanlen Has Apologised For Her “Problematic” Sydney Film Fest Win

Aussie actress and director Eliza Scanlen has apologised after her award-winning film, Mukbang, was slammed for appropriating Korean culture and depicting violence against a black student.

Scanlen had nabbed the Sydney Film Festival’s $7,000 Rouben Mamoulian Award for best short film director with Mukbang, a film about a young, white school girl who gets caught up in the Korean online trend of eating in front of a webcam.

However, in the wake of the win, screenwriter Michelle Law commented that it was an example of “how racist and broken the screen industry is in Australia.”

She described it as a problematic “Eat, Pray, Love for teenagers”, and also pointed to a now-deleted scene which shows the white protagonist strangling her black classmate.

Following initial outcry, the aforementioned scene was quietly cut from the online version of the film.

Law said that beyond being problematic, such a move was also “dishonest and unfair” to other films in the festival.

“This film WON Best Director – an award afforded to supposed visionaries at an internationally acclaimed festival. This happened YESTERDAY,” she added.

“When people ask me if the system is becoming less racist, look to this.”

Other screenwriters, directors and actors including Nina Oyama, Corrie Chen and Moreblessing Maturure joined Law in calling for the Sydney Film Festival to release an official statement.

Scanlen has since apologised on Instagram on behalf of the whole production team.

“I am so deeply sorry for creating a work that has caused offence,” she said.

“I intended this film to be a young girl’s journey of self-discovery in the age of internet culture, and I failed to recognise how problematic this was.”


The production company behind the film, Fat Salmon Productions, also issued an apology on Instagram, admitting it was wrong to have sneakily removed the problematic scene without publicly engaging with criticism first.

“We’re ashamed to have overlooked the issues with the film and it just proves how insidious, persistent and deeply embedded systemic racism is in Australia and in us as white Australians,” it said.

It has since pledged to have a minimum quota of 30% black, Indigenous and people of color cast and crew members across all future productions.

The Sydney Film Festival has yet to release an official statement, however the event’s director Nashen Moodley told the Sydney Morning Herald it stood by the jury’s decision to award the film as well as by the production company’s decision to later remove the problematic scene.

“The festival respected the filmmakers’ request to change their film to an alternate version and effected the change,” he said.