First foreign-language film to win Best Picture . . .
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite claimed four Academy Awards Sunday night in Hollywood: Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature, Best Director, and, finally, Best Picture. Parasite is the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture, the first Asian film to win Best Original Screenplay, and also the first South Korean film to win an Academy Award. The Oscars ceremony began at 9 a.m. local time in Seoul this morning, with tens of millions of South Koreans watching in real time. The country’s leading political parties were unified in their patriotic praise of Bong and his cinematic achievements, with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in tweeting: "Parasite moved the minds of the world with a story that is truly Korean. The film is funny and sad. It's also refreshing and superb as a social message.”
Bong’s take on capitalist violence resonates with global audience . . .
In addition to Bong’s craftsmanship, Parasite’s commentary on class and inequality seems to have resonated with audiences around the world. His previous works that earned international acclaim have touched on similar themes: capitalism (Snowpiercer), American imperialism (The Host), the environment (Okja), and authoritarianism (Memories of Murder). While Parasite was highly acclaimed by critics and decorated with both the Palme d’Or and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, commentators had not expected the film to take top prize at the Oscars, noting a history of conservatism within the Academy.
Asia’s emerging ‘soft power’ . . .
Parasite’s success at this year’s Academy Awards also highlights the rise of Asia’s ‘soft power’ internationally. While Asian cinema has largely remained outside of the Western ‘mainstream,’ a new generation of globally-connected directors is crafting highly acclaimed and commercially successful films, particularly in South Korea, India, and Hong Kong. With streaming giant Netflix also reporting its sales and subscriber numbers soaring by 150 per cent in the Asia Pacific over the past two years, we are sure to see new sources and patterns of entertainment content in the coming years. But for now, we join South Korea in celebrating the success of Parasite. As the country’s ruling Minjoo Party said in a statement today: “A new chapter of Korean film has opened . . . and it shows the strength of Koreans and Korean culture to the world.”
- The Globe and Mail: Parasite makes history with best picture, director and screenplay honours
- South China Morning Post: Parasite wins best picture Oscar, completing stunning night for Bong Joon-ho’s darkly comic satire
- Vulture: Bong Joon-ho’s dystopia is already here