Parasite Wins

Parasite Wins Best Picture: What it Means for World Cinema

In his acceptance speech for Parasite’s Best Foreign Langauge Film win at this year’s Golden Globes a month ago, director Bong Joon Ho told the Hollywood Foreign Press and Americans watching at home, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

After Parasite’s shockingly historic Best Picture win at the Oscars along with others victories in directing, foreign film, and screenplay, it seems as though we have finally overcome that tiny barrier.

Since its inception 92 years ago, the Oscars has been known for mainly recognizing Hollywood’s most popular films or other domestic releases in their major categories. There have been times when international films squeezed their way into the Best Picture category (Amor in 2012 and last year’s Roma), but none had a shot going up against Hollywood’s most powerful films and people.

Plus, mainstream audiences typically shut out the entire international film genre. Many don’t want to “read a movie” with subtitles, nor do they care for anything without star power or a big production. Despite having all these qualities, Parasite managed to break the glass ceiling.

So what does this mean for world cinema? Host of the University’s World Cinema Series, History and Anthropology Professor Thomas Pearson, Ph.D. thought it was, “A historic event not only for Korean films and world cinema generally, but also for Hollywood in moving from a more insular view of cinema to a more diverse, global perspective.”

Parasite’s journey to victory also included wins at other award ceremonies too. “The fact that it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Best Picture Oscar (two quite different audiences) speaks to how original and captivating the film is.  I hope that the Best Picture Oscar for Parasite will encourage many Americans to put aside their reluctance to watch subtitled films and discover the richness of international features and documentary films because as a country we need that broader, more open human perspective,” Pearson said.

Considering Parasite bridged the two opposite audiences together, we wish that the foundation strengthens. Now that mainstream audiences are becoming exposed to international films like Parasite, maybe they’ll feel a new door of cinema open.

Throughout middle and high school, I would always go with my father to Montgomery Cinemas near Princeton on the weekends, which showed international films. When I’d see my peers on Monday, I’d share what I saw, but many would scratch their heads and usually ask, “Why would you see something nobody cares about?” Fast-forward a few years later and hopefully those people are now sitting at the movies watching Parasite stroking their chins rather than scratching their heads.

IMAGE TAKEN from Vanity Fair