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Bong Joon-ho's Greatest Award Season Hits


Bong Joon-ho has been making headlines and waves this awards season thanks to his brilliant dark comedy Parasite. A well-balanced comedy turned thriller, the film has been praised for its tonal dexterity with a strong ensemble, rich themes and many twists-and-turns. A rollicking comedy thrill ride, it's entertaining and artistic showing masterful control as the 50-year-old South Korean director makes some incisive political commentary. The film won the coveted Palm d'Or before marching into award season. A firm favourite at this year's Oscars, having ratcheted up a number of awards (the most out of any film) this awards season, the film is set for re-release in South Africa. Having amassed four Oscars for best picture, best director, best screenplay and best international film, the  film-maker now shares the record for the most Oscars in a single night with Walt Disney's impressive run in 1953.

Local Awards Ceremony

An amazing cinematic feat, Parasite has been making history and breaking records, most notably those surrounding an international film in what Bong Joon-ho has described as a local film awards contest. These quips helped contextualise the mountain Parasite had to summit and gave him and his film a free pass no matter what the outcome. His comments and publicity surrounding the film have had plenty of traction this award season and have enabled him to reach a much greater audience. Bong Joon-ho's movies include Memories of a Murder, The HostSnowpiercer and Okja. He's no stranger to "Hollywoodland" and his insights have resonated with filmmakers and decision-makers in Tinseltown.

Parasite TV Series

Parasite has already been green lit to be turned into a limited run HBO TV series to be produced by Joon-ho and Adam McKay. While in early development stages, the director says it will explore some of the stories that happen inbetween sequences of the film. The influential film will undoubtedly sway contemporary and budding filmmakers, who will be attempting to produce something similar. Focused on two locales, contrasting the slums with a mansion, Joon-ho has got a lot of mileage out of his resources and locations. Inspired by Hitchcock, having watched Psycho more than 50 times... you can definitely see a strain of the master of suspense's influence in his thriller. A fan of Mindhunter, Joon-ho would love to direct an episode of Fincher's series. Check out the candid interview below for more tidbits.

Acting Award Representation

One criticism leveled at the awards season this year, besides calls for more diversity, has been the exclusion of the Parasite cast. While filmed in Korean with subtitles, there hasn't been much of an attempt to ingratiate the award-winning film's cast members. As part of many Hollywood film campaigns, the tendency is to promote big name stars ahead of awards season and considering that the cast of Parasite is relatively unknown on an international level, it seems unfair that they received little to no attention. The Oscars have had their fair share of controversy surrounding the selection process as well as the level of diversity.

The BAFTAs was also heavily criticised this year for their selection, ignoring some and not paying others dues, in some instances serving up a surprising double nomination. One would imagine that nomination forms simply have a name and film title, making it difficult to connect the dots in some instances. While there is obviously Google to fall back on, perhaps it would be more of a fail-safe for these ballots to include a small profile image of each actor in order for voters to have a better visual clue as to exactly who they are better voting for.

Unassuming Genius

Bong Joon-ho has charmed the media, getting coverage from insightful comments to apologising to engravers for having so many Oscars. This refreshing spirit has been a welcome change-up from what has become quite a stale, vanilla and predictable awards ceremony and event. There have obviously been some surprises along the way but this year's event went to plan. They obviously have to be losers and it's seems a pity that The Irishman didn't manage to garner one Oscar from its 10 nominations. Acknowledging his competitors as part of his acceptance speech he playfully quipped that he wish he had a Texas chainsaw to cut the award into 5 equal parts.

Inclusive World Cinema

Another interesting comment from Bong Joon-ho was that of the wall created by subtitles, which is seemingly insurmountable to mainstream audiences. Coming from South Africa, a country of 11 official languages, there is a variety of multi-lingual films that play, which require subtitles. While they would be considered foreign language (or international now) at an event like the Oscars, it's a bit more normalised. As a South African film critic, Spling doesn't have a separate rating system for local films as opposed to those on an international platform.

All of them should be adjudicated according to the same standards and if there was any room for a different rating scale, it would be to differentiate between student and professional film-making. There is a stigma attached to the idea of having to read films. While it does take some getting used to and requires you to simultaneously watch and read, it's not nearly as challenging as most people people make it out to be. By embracing this film element, one is made open to a host of films from other countries with distinct cultures and languages suddenly splayed open for mass consumption.

Encourage a Culture of Acceptance

It seems quite ludicrous that films need to be remade in English in order to reach a wider audience, as was the case with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. While the Swedish original is quite brilliant, it seems rather redundant that there was an effort to adapt the series for American audiences. While David Fincher brought something interesting and stylistic to the table, it just seemed quite superfluous and unnecessary, which is probably why it didn't go any further. The idea of subtitles does seem like a "wall" as Bong Joon-ho suggested, but that wall is minuscule in the greater scheme of things and audiences should make more of an effort to embrace diversity and exercise more tolerance in their film-watching appetites.

The industry is essentially a business driven by profits, which is why it makes sense that by supporting films with greater diversity, they will naturally be more films of this nature and thus more nominations and talent ready to breakthrough.