Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Has Won the Palme d'Or at This Year's Cannes Film Festival

The 'Okja' and 'Snowpiercer' filmmaker made history, becoming the first Korean director to nab Cannes' top award.
Sarah Ward
Published on May 27, 2019

Across his two-decade filmmaking career, Bong Joon-ho has explored Korea's first serial murders, grappled with a creature feature, sunk his teeth into a twisted maternal tale, stranded the last remnants of humanity on a train, and followed the exploits of a young girl and her superpig. Now, the applauded South Korean director can add a prestigious and historic accolade to his resume — not only taking out this year's Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest movie, Parasite, but becoming the first Korean filmmaker to win the coveted gong in the fest's 72-year run.

Bong's seventh feature after Barking Dogs Never Bite, Memories of Murder, The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer and Okja, Parasite follows a family of four that is struggling through rough times. Led by his regular star Song Kang-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer), they're all unemployed; however, that situation might just be about to change. Son Ki-woo has been offered a lucrative tutoring gig and, although he doesn't have the required university degree for it, his sister Ki-jung is quite the forger. Once he has his foot in the door, he discovers that his wealthy new employers might be the solution to his family's money woes in more ways than one.

As well as widespread acclaim, the film has been earning comparisons to last year's Palme d'Or winner, Shoplifters — but darker, more mysterious and twisty and with a tense and satirical edge. In other words, it sounds like classic Bong. That said, if his diverse resume has proven anything — other than his supreme talents behind the lens — it's that he never makes the same movie twice.

Parasite's win comes after his previous movie, Okja, was part of Cannes' Netflix controversy — after Okja screened in competition in 2017 just over a month before landing on the streaming platform (and alongside other Netflix titles), the famous French film festival announced that it would no longer screen the company's movies from 2018 onwards.

Other Cannes 2019 award winners include Mati Diop's Atlantics, which took out the Grand Prix and also made history as the first feature by a black female filmmaker in the festival's competition; Young Ahmed, which nabbed Two Days, One Night filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne the best director prize; and Celine Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which took out the best screenplay gong. Antonio Banderas won best actor for Pedro Almodovar's Pain and Glory, British talent Emily Beecham won best actress for Little Joe, and the movie that everyone was talking about — Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — went home empty-handed.

If you're wondering when you can see Parasite, it'll have its Australian premiere at the Sydney Film Festival on Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16. Expect it to pop up at other local festivals as well, with a general Australian release planned for a yet-to-be-confirmed date later this year.

Check out the trailer below:

Parasite screens at the Sydney Film Festival on Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16, with a general Australian release slated for a yet-to-be-confirmed date later this year.

Published on May 27, 2019 by Sarah Ward
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