“Parasite” makes history at Oscars

Writer-Director Bong Joon-Ho accepts an Oscar at the 2020 Academy Awards.

Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” — a compelling exploration of class inequality in South Korea — has received near-universal critical acclaim. The first Korean film to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, and the first non-English language film to receive the Outstanding Performance by a Cast award at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, “Parasite” made history tonight when it also became the first non-English language film to win the Best Picture Academy Award.

In total, “Parasite” — which was released on Blu-Ray last week — received four of the six Academy Awards for which it was nominated: in addition to Best Picture, the film was awarded Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay and director Bong Joon-Ho was awarded Best Director.

Prior to tonight, Bong Joon-Ho called out the narcissism of American Hollywood while claiming the Best Foreign Language Film prize at the Golden Globes. “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” he said in his acceptance speech.

This is a truism many of us familiar with non-American film already recognize: amazing films are made around the world, and (whether in America or abroad) in languages other than English. Indeed, some of my earliest memories of of fantastic films are Chinese-language films introduced to me by my parents. And yet, only rarely do non-English films (even American-made ones like “The Farewell”) get recognized or celebrated by Hollywood — a trend that underscores the many ways that non-white films are still Other-ized.

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