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Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite Makes History at the Academy Awards

The South Korean film Parasite made history last night at the 92nd Oscars when it was named Best Picture.

“This is very first Oscar to South Korea,” director Bong Joon-ho said in his first acceptance speech of the night, after he and fellow writer Han Jin Won won for Best Original Screenplay. The cast and crew of the film took home a total four awards, including Best Director and Best International Feature Film, the latter of which was recently renamed from Best Foreign Film. Bong stated that he “applauds and supports the new direction this change symbolizes”.

Parasite, a comedy-drama that follows a poor South Korean family that infiltrates the household of an upper-class family, has been a critical and commercial success. It won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language at the Golden Globes, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild Awards. Since its release in October, it has grossed over $163 million globally and $30 million in the United States.

The film’s major wins come in a year that saw diversity problems in the Academy’s nominee selections. Five years ago, #OscarsSoWhite pointed out the lack of racial diversity in the film industry, and since then, there has been more attention than ever on issues of inclusivity. Only one of the 20 nominations for acting this year went to Cynthia Erivo of Harriet. Female directors, like Greta Gerwig of Little Women and Lulu Wang of The Farewell, were also snubbed. Similarly, the cast of the character-driven Parasite weren’t nominated for any acting awards, making it the first movie since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire to win Best Picture without any cast members receiving a nomination.

The film’s producer, Kwak Sin Ae, said last night that she hoped that winning the award would “signal the beginning of a different kind of change for international cinema.”

Sources: NPR 2/10/2020; REV 2/9/2020; Good Morning America 2/10/2020; The New York Times 2/7/2020; Vox 1/13/20.