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Bong Joon Ho Creates Oscar History, ‘Parasite’ First Non-English Film to Bag Best Picture Award

The South Korean twisted satire on class divide, which leap-frogged through 92 years of Oscars history, was up against 7 films, including by Tarantino and Scorsese.
Oscars 2020: Parasite director Bong Joon Ho (right) receiving the Best Picture award

Oscars 2020: Parasite director Bong Joon Ho (right) receiving the Best Picture award. Image Courtesy: AP

Los Angeles: ‘Parasite’ director Bong Joon Ho's twisted satire on class divide, leap-frogged through 92 years of Oscars history to become the first non-English and South Korean film ever to win the best picture award.

The movie, a cleverly crafted, stylish genre-bending story broke the "one inch long subtitle barrier" that its director Bong famously had talked about in the run up to the Oscars to sweep the top categories that also included the international feature, best director and original screenplay trophies.

The director, who had already come up the stage thrice and promised to drink away the night, let his producers bask in the limelight for the big finish.

"I'm speechless. We never imagined this to ever happen. We are so happy. I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now," co-producer Kwak Sin Ae said in her acceptance speech via interpreter Sharon Choi.

As the lights dimmed, award presenter Jane Fonda and the audience, including Hollywood stars Tom Hanks and Charlize Theron, urged the Academy to let the team finish their speeches.

Bong still did not come up to the mic, letting Miky Lee, the South Korean movie mogul, to speak about the film.

"I like everything about him, his smile, his crazy hair, the way he talks, the way he walks, especially the way he directs. What I really like about him is his sense of humour...he never takes himself seriously. Thank you for being you," Lee said.

Later, talking backstage to Academy's 'Thank you cam', the director called the win "surreal".

"Four times... It's crazy. It's an unbelievable night. It's such a great honour. I feel like I'll wake up to find this all a dream. It all feels very surreal," he said.

While "Parasite's" chances in the international category were a lock, the best picture and director win is a huge upset for British filmmaker Sam Mendes' war drama "1917".

The South Korean film, about a poor family which worms its way through a rich and gullible household to tragi-comic results, was also up against seven other films: “Ford V. Ferrari,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit," “Joker,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".

"Parasite" has been on a unstoppable march since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival where it became the first South Korean film to win the top, Palme d'Or, award.

The universal love and acclaim that the film has been receiving warmed the hearts of even the notoriously conservative Academy voters, leading up to a historic night that will pave the way for other international films.

"Parasite" went into the Oscars with an impressive haul of trophies at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the Screen Actor Guild awards where it won the best picture equivalent of best ensemble cast in a motion picture.

Bong is not new to the western audiences and first broke on the international scene with "Memories of Murder", a cult favourite of the director's fans and credited for being one of the films of the new wave in South Korean cinema.

The director will continue the "Parasite" saga in a television series, which will expand on the universe that he created in the movie.

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