[NEWS IN-DEPTH] ‘Parasite’ rewrites history of Korean cinema

Korean film director poongjin who has
opened a new chapter in Korean cinema with his highly acclaimed movie parasite
from winning the prestigious Palme d’Or award at gaen to six Oscar nominations
the landmark film is now eyeing to end its journey with a grand finale at the
92nd Academy Awards ceremony in February today we dissect the factors that led to
parasites astonishing and ongoing for that matter long list of achievements an
unprecedented moment in more than a hundred years of Korean film history and
the movie’s significance at major global movie awards for that dr. Jason B
surveys movie critic and professor of entertainment and arts management at
Korea solution cyber University joins me in the studio thank you so much for
coming in today well thank you for having me it’s an absolute pleasure and
honor so Korean cinema has not seen a movie quite like parasite 100 years of
history and it’s also the first Asian film to Oscar nomination since the
famous Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2001 first off could you first tell us
the significance the Academy Award or simply known as the Oscar holds to the
movie industry worldwide it’s massive you know it’s the culmination of the
award season you have a Golden Globes you have various award shows that happen
during this period and it’s the climax and you know to win an Oscar even to be
nominated is a huge huge honor in terms of box-office revenue for B users it’s
it’s a very good thing especially for Paris I you know it can be released in
the UK in February and it’s kind of the release comes and just after BAFTA
Awards and before the Oscars almost like just after the Oscars and it’s it’s it’s
going to see an increase in its box office sales and so commercially it’s
massive and the the awards season stretches right from September or August
you know right through to February so it’s a long period there’s a vast
some money pumped in to the award season and it’s the culmination of this and not
to mention the the publicity that it generates it’s the kind of news that you
wake up to in the morning like the top headline you see news alerts on your
phone and this is the only real occasion during the year that that really happens
you know even the Cannes Film Fest I know that’s something that it’s a Korean
film win something there is a big deal here but generally speaking it doesn’t
generate the cuts the same kind of publicity that the Oscars does in terms
of the mainstream media you know in the UK and the United States so it’s a huge
huge honor and just in terms of publicity is just massive so we could
say it is the epitome of the movie awards yeah if you win an Oscar you’re
part of that very very exclusive club the you’re among the great so let’s say
if beomjin who does win you know Best Director I certainly hope he does he’s
got a very very good chance he’s going to be in a group among the best film
makers in the world that’s that’s a group that you have before so we
certainly look forward to that now what was the position of Korean films on the
global stage prior to parasite and how our Korean films being observed now well
the Korean film industry I think is it’s incredibly vibrant and I’ve been
following it for close to two decades now and you know in the early 2000s
directors and producers were given a great deal of autonomy to make these
incredible films a Patou bond you know Kim Joon and maybe these kind of
masterpieces you know old boy was released in 2003 same years memories of
murder so that’s that’s kind of for me the kind of a pinnacle of new Korean
cinema and it’s it’s had its challenges going forward and we’re now we’re in
kind of the studio era where it’s kind of emulating the studio system in
Hollywood and so the directors don’t have the creative control or suddenly
the younger filmmakers don’t have the creative control that they’re kind of
the seniors had but it’s still a very healthy film industry
I mean if 50% of tickets so offer Korean films in terms of Hollywood movies as
well they generate a huge amount of revenue and that’s what Hollywood sees
careers as a major market you’ve got the other neighbors or the other countries
in Asia you got Japan you’ve got China but they have their own challenges as
well not least with censorship in China and Korea is just it’s just seen as a
very vibrant very healthy film industry and we’re seeing kind of accumulation
now of what is it what it’s achieved and hasn’t received it hadn’t received an
Oscar nomination for so long in 90 years not one single Austin or excuse me Oscar
nomination and now you have seven in one year it’s a remarkable achievement and I
think it just goes to show how far the Korean film industry has come well as a
Korean myself I’m very proud to hear that now parasite has been nominated in
six categories for the 2020 Academy Awards and among the six of course much
attention is being focused on whether it will win Best Picture
now what other nominees is parasyte competing against well it’s got the
irishman of course once upon a time in Hollywood’s 1917 and these are the films
you kind of need to look at I think in terms of Best Picture the the film to be
in the moments probably 1917 it won Best Picture at at the Golden Bell the best
film in a Drama category at the Golden Globes and Sam Mendes also won Best
Director the PGA’s or the producer Guild of America Awards they they take place
on Saturday and that I think will give us an indication of what film my twin if
1917 gets its it kind of came in much later in the Oscar race it was released
towards the end of the cell when it was screened to critics and voters towards
the end of December and it’s it’s and it’s also doing extremely well in the
box office now in America and the UK and so it’s gathering a lot of momentum
having won some of these awards and so I think if it wins at the PGA’s on
Saturday I think that stands a very good chance of winning Best Picture the
Oscars in terms of Best Director and I think he’s function is very much up up
against Penton Tarantino performs upon a time in
Hollywood and Sam Mendes for 1917 there is the Irishman like I says but I mean
it started the award season as a very very strong formidable contender but it
seems to have lost quite a bit of steam I think it will receive Malta’s received
multiple nominations but it may end up just winning one or two the Academy
Awards are chosen by members of the u.s. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences comprising some 8,000 yes movie directors if I’m right actors and
filmmakers and we hear they’re known to be quite conservative
could you tell yeah I mean this is one of the reasons why I think 1917 could do
well it’s it’s the kind of movie that some of the older voters might like take
a liking to it’s also a British film there’s a lot of voters in the UK and
British films have traditionally done very well at the Oscars and British
talent is very well up the Oscars as certainly does very well at the Golden
Globes and so there are this this is kind of big contingent if you like older
more conservative voters it is changing and I think following some of the
controversy that continues at the moment and they’re trying to expand that
membership and trying to bring in voters from different parts of the world from
different different ethnic backgrounds and this is something that should have
happened a long long time ago but didn’t and so in theory we’re going to see the
fruition of this although this year the acting categories very very little in
the way of diversity there and that’s something that needs to change but yeah
you have this you have 7,000 voters it’s there’s a lot of math involved but
essentially there’s kind of a preferential vote and there’s the the
films or the act or the actors or the the composers or whatever it may be but
get the most votes in the number one slot then or they reach this kind of
so-called magic number they then are then nominated but there’s there’s also
a lot of math and math involved in terms of you know the second and third and
fourth he’s parasite has scooped up nearly all
best foreign language film awards of the year it looks quite certain to win the
Best International Film at the Oscars as far as I know not a single movie has won
both Best Picture and Best International Film at the Oscars right you gave the
possibility of parasite winning both the awards yeah that would be quite a moment
and that’s why I’m kind of skeptical whether it will win best picture as well
I mean I love it too but like I said ninety seventeen seems to be the film
that’s generating the most momentum at the moment although that could change
and there are always surprises as well and come Oscar night who knows they may
open that envelope and it says parasite and just be an incredible moment but
yeah into non-english language films are still a barrier there as bong Janeiro’s
mentioned in his accepts acceptance speeches and I think Hollywood is still
very much centered around you know english-speaking cinema mainstream films
and I think that’s one of the reasons why parasite is done so well is because
it is different its innovative and Hollywood is so dependent on the
franchises the spin-offs the sequels and with parasite you see something so
different and as long as it’s mind-blowing its unpredictable and I
think there’s a real opportunity here for for Korean cinema to to reach
different corners of the globe that it hasn’t already and I think it’s also an
opportunity for like streaming Giants to to spend more money on securing not just
Korean content but content from across Asia and they have been doing that but
there’s a real opportunity for distributors as well to be able to
distribute movies in theaters in theaters you know Korean films
non-english language movies at the Golden Globes director poems you know
during his acceptance speech for winning Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language
Film he said once you overcome the 1 inch tall barrier of subtitles you’ll be
open to so many more amazing films now I think his common he had in mind
how moviegoers in North America dis tend to dislike subtitled movies but what do
you think worth some of the factors that led to such phenomenal popularity in
North America I think there was several I mean I’ve mentioned how it’s you know
it’s very different compared to like the mainstream Hollywood movies I think
there’s a Teague out there certainly for me as much as I you know I like some of
the Marvel films they have becoming quite tiresome and you know all trends I
mean Marvel seems to continue and it seems to be never never-ending and
relentless but I you know they will come a point where people are tired of these
movies and I think parasyte just came at the right time I think also politically
and socially I think it touches on many themes that resonate here and they
resonate in the states too in the UK and we’ve seen the kind of the rise of
far-right politics and politicians and you know social inequality is a real
problem and not just in Korea but in the UK where I’m from but in the United
States and across the whole globe and it’s the kind of theme that resonates
and it’s infuriating and that you know we do have this disparity and I think
also the film is incredibly enjoyable and bombed you know makes his films very
very entertaining and I think there’s a stigma attached with non English
language cinema and its kind of high art cinema and that it’s it’s for the
intellectuals it’s difficult to understand it’s boring you know parasite
is anything but those it’s incredibly stimulating but at the same time it’s
incredibly enjoyable and beomjin who knows his audience he wants to entertain
them he’s incredibly well versed in cinema he plays around with genre and I
think it’s a real opportunity here for viewers to to explore more Korean films
and there are loads of Korean films out there that do what maybe not to the same
extent the bong as you know does but so is able to do but certainly play around
with the notion of genre a Korean documentary in the absence which depicts
the tragedy of South Korea’s soul though very shocking
was also nominated at the Oscars and the Best Documentary Short subject category
how do you see this well as she just watched it before I came on here on the
show it’s it’s a very powerful documentary I think one of the most for
me one of the excites most exciting areas of Korean sin or independent
Korean cinema is the documentaries and it has been for the last few years dream
of I and is a great example this is a fantastic documentary just exceptionally
made well made and this documentary – it’s very polished it’s very
comprehensive it I think it’s about 28 minutes long but it covers the tragic
sinking and the events and the kind of the hours leading up to that right
through to the sinking and also the aftermath and the investigations that
followed and it’s just it’s just it’s polished but it is comprehensive but
there’s also a kind of a very it’s it’s very it’s holding a very simple but very
very effective way and as a result it’s incredibly incredibly powerful and I
hope it does go on to win an Oscar that would be one life for Korean cinema just
to go on and if Paris like wins and this documentary as well I think you just be
truly an incredible moment now before I let you go one last question for you
what would you say are the remaining challenges for the Korean movie industry
I think it’s to try and give young directors more autonomy I think the
studio system does have its advantages it has money and the film’s here are
very sophisticated and there’s a lot of talent out there but I think it is a
struggle for younger filmmakers to get the kind of creative freedom though you
know filmmakers like Pancho had I’m bummed you know and that’s something I’d
like to see it’s also challenging for the independent film industry because
the studio’s essentially control the system and so it’s very difficult for
filmmakers who make a film outside the system to get a film made distributed
and exhibited a lot of these studios do have kind of these distribution arms
that focus on independent cinema and the cinemas themselves will have special
screens for kind of independent movies but it still remains a big challenge
going it has for those who are not able to get within this system and obviously
it’s a commercial system and so if your film is not seen as commercial enough
it’s it’s it’s difficult for filmmakers to get films made and then distributed
and exhibited all right thank you so much dr. Besser Vaes for your insights
tonight thank you for having me

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