Although winning the Palme d’Or was “a huge honor,” “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho confesses he “tried to forget it as much as possible” the very next day, choosing instead to focus on the work instead of the accolades. In fact, “on my flight out of Cannes, I started writing my new script.” But it’s hard to ignore the critical plaudits for his latest film, which opened to rave reviews and strong box office after its run on the festival circuit. Watch our exclusive video interview with Joon Ho above.
It’s hard to describe the plot of “Parasite” without giving away its many twists and turns: it starts with an impoverished family who finagle their way into the employ of a wealthier family, and that’s when things get weird. “The story is about infiltration,” Joon Ho explains, and it’s a story that’s actually based on his own past. “When I was in college, I tutored for a very rich family, and I got this very strange feeling that I was spying on the private lives of complete strangers. So those memories were my inspiration.”
Much like his science-fiction thriller “Snowpiercer” (2013), “Parasite” also explores issues of class in surprising ways. It’s a theme that’s certainly relevant to today, and Joon Ho believes “it’s a very natural duty for creators to reflect the times they live in,” citing other recent titles like Jordan Peele‘s “Us” (2019) and Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s “Shoplifters” (2018). “It’s not as if I’m announcing to the world that I’m only going to deal with class for the rest of my life. It’s just something that revolves around us creators very naturally.”
Joon Ho’s credits also include the genre-bending “Memories of Murder” (2003), “The Host” (2006), “Mother” (2009) and “Okja” (2017). Now he could earn his first Oscar nominations for writing, directing and producing “Parasite,” which is also a strong contender to be Korea’s first nominee and winner for Best International Film. The filmmaker has been a frequent presence on the international awards circuit, also contending for the Palme d’Or for “Okja” and claiming festival prizes from Munich to Dubai to Santa Barbara for his body of work. In Toronto just this fall, “Parasite” finished third for the People’s Choice Award.
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