Parasite, a wickedly humourous suspense movie about class struggles directed by South Korea’s Bong Joon-Ho, won the top Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, on a big night for newcomer filmmakers too. Bong, who made his mark at Cannes in 2017 with Netflix-produced Okja, is the first South Korean to nab the award at the world’s biggest cinema showcase, reports Reuters.
The festival also shone a light on a debut feature-length movie by Franco-Senegalese director Mati Diop, whose haunting migrant tale Atlantics clinched the runner-up Grand Prix award. The unanimous decision to crown Parasite partly came down to its unexpected mash-up of genres, this year’s jury president, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Mexican maker of Birdman, told reporters.It was up against films by a whole cast of industry heavyweights, including Quentin Tarantino’s latest opus, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Set in modern South Korea, Parasite follows a down-on-its-luck family of four who worm their way into jobs in a wealthy household. The darkly comic tale doubles up as a thriller, with flashes of violence.
Bong told Reuters that his film - which pokes fun at the affluent mother gushing about her art genius son, or at a family in a cramped flat trying to capture the Wi-Fi signal off their neighbours - reflected “the reality of the times.” “I really respect films that deal with heavy political issues very seriously but I much prefer to mix that with humour,” Bong said. “While they’re laughing I want them to be hit like a hidden blade behind their pocket when they’re not expecting it.” The award adds to a successful run at the French cinema showcase for Asian films after Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda got the prestigious gong last year.
With four female directors in contention for the Palme d’Or this year out of 21 entries - at a time when filmmakers are pushing for more gender equality in the industry - it was Diop who made a splash in the end. Atlantics is a ghost story that turns the spotlight on the women who are left behind as their partners and loved ones set off from Dakar on a perilous sea crossing.