South Korean Movie ‘Parasite’ Won Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or

By David Vives

“Parasite,” a suspenseful dark comedy about class struggles, directed by South Korea’s Bong Joon-Ho, won the top Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival, May 25.

The award adds to a successful run at the French cinema showcase for Asian films after Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda clinched the prestigious gong last year. Bong, who made his mark at Cannes in 2017 with Netflix-produced “Okja,” set his latest movie in modern South Korea.

“The film is extremely strong, surprising, entertaining, intelligent, fun and political. It’s brilliant in all departments … A marvelous cinema experience,” the jury wrote in a statement.

It follows a down-on-their-luck family of four who spot an opportunity to con a wealthy household into giving them jobs. They worm their way into the other family’s lives—before things start going south.

The South Korean thriller was among the movies sparking awards buzz at Cannes in an unusually crowded field of runners and riders this year.

72nd Cannes Film Festival Closing ceremony; Cannes, France, May 25, 2019. Director Bong Joon-ho (C), Palme d’Or award winner for his film, “Parasite” (“Gisaengchung”), with Jury members, and Catherine Deneuve (R). (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

This year’s Cannes Film Festival also shone a light on newcomers, in an unusually crowded field. “Atlantics,” a ghost story about migrants directed by Franco-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop, won the runner-up Grand Prix award. The movie, based on her 2009 short documentary, was Diop’s first feature-length film.

Spain’s Antonio Banderas won the male acting prize for his role as a tortured filmmaker in Pedro Almodovar’s loosely biographical “Pain And Glory”—one of the films that had been tipped for the top honor. Britain’s Emily Beecham was crowned best actress after starring in Jessica Hausner’s “Little Joe” as a botanist who starts having doubts about her latest genetically-modified creation when it begins to affect her loved ones.

The jury also gave a special mention to the French movie “Les Miserables” by Ladj Ly. “This film catches us from the magnificent first scenes and leaves us exhausted, on the edge of our seats at the end credits and all this with a constant tension. This first feature film is mastered perfectly. It is a powerful and intense debut, bringing up strong social and political issues of today and tomorrow,” Innaritu said in a statement.

Reuters contributed to this report.