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‘Parasite’ makes Oscars history with four wins

Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho made history with his feature film “Parasite,” winning four awards at the Oscars on Sunday, including the coveted award for best picture.

“Parasite” became the second film ever to win the Palme d’Or and the Oscar for best picture together, after the 1955 romance film “Marty” by Delbert Mann.

Bong Joon-ho poses with the Oscars for
Bong Joon-ho poses with the Oscars for "Parasite" at the Governors Ball following the 92nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday. (Reuters-Yonhap)

The awards ceremony for the 92nd Academy Awards was held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. Attended by renowned filmmakers, actors and figures from the film industry, the event celebrated the cinematic achievements of 2019.

“Parasite” became the star of the night, as it became the first foreign-language film to win best picture at the Oscars. It also won three other awards -- best international feature film, best director and best original screenplay.

“Parasite” was also the first winner for best international feature film at the Oscars, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences changed the name of the category from “best foreign language film” this year to reflect a more positive and inclusive approach to movies made outside Hollywood.

“The category has a new name now, from best foreign language to best international feature film,” Bong said in his acceptance speech. “I am so happy to be its first recipient under the new name. I applaud and support the new direction this change symbolizes.”

Winning for best director, Bong paid tribute to Martin Scorsese, who was nominated in the same category for “The Irishman.”

“When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is ‘the most personal is the most creative.’ That quote came from our great Martin Scorsese,” Bong said. “(In school) I studied Martin Scorsese’s films. Just to be nominated (with him) was a huge honor, I never thought I would win.”

He also paid respects to fellow best director nominee Quentin Tarantino, saying “While people in the US were not familiar with my film, Quentin always put my films on his list. I love you, Quentin.” Tarantino was nominated for “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.”

“Todd (Philips) and Sam (Mendes), the great directors I admire, if the Academy allows, I would like to get a Texas chainsaw and split the Oscar trophy in five and share with you,” the director said, referring to the other directors in the category, respectively nominated for “Joker” and “1917.”

Bong did not forget to mention his wife. Upon grabbing the best original screenplay award, his first win of the night, along with co-screenwriter Han Jin-won, Bong called his wife an inspiration.

“It is a lonely job to write a film script. I am not writing to represent Korea, but it is the first Oscar to South Korea,” Bong said “I thank my wife, who always inspired me, and the ‘Parasite’ actors who beautifully delivered the lines on screen.”

After “Parasite” was named best picture, the cast of the film -- Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jeong-eun and Jang Hye-jin -- shared the triumph with Bong onstage.

Lee Mi-kyung, vice chairwoman of distributor CJ Group, and Kwak Sin-ae, the co-producer and the head of production company Barunson E&A, took to the stage, too.

“I feel a very opportune moment in history has happened now,” Kwak said onstage with Bong, hinting at a beloved line from the film. Kwak is the first Asian woman producer to win best picture at the Oscars.

Other films nominated for best picture were “Ford v Ferrari,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Joker,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “1917” and “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood.”

Black comedy “Parasite” is a social satire, depicting class divide by putting two seemingly similar families -- both close-knit, happy families, but one affluent and the other poor -- on the screen.

Since its release last year, the film has been widely appreciated around the world. It won the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it made its debut, as well as Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards last month.

The critically acclaimed film has also proved a relative box-office hit, grossing $161 million around the world, including in Korea. More than 10 million theatregoers have seen the film in Korea.

At a press event held in April 2019 in Seoul before the premier of the film, Bong said he did not have high expectations of winning an award with “Parasite.”

“I am not sure if foreigners will be able to understand this film 100 percent. There are elements that only a Korean audience can fully understand,” he said at the time. “But, of course, (from another perspective) the film can also appeal to everyone, regardless of nationality, since the issue of poverty and wealth is a universal one.”

Almost 10 months since that remark, Bong has grabbed some of the most prestigious awards across the international film scene.

Bong capped the victorious night Sunday, saying twice in English, “I am ready to drink tonight.”

Two prizes that “Parasite” was also nominated for -- best film editing and production design -- went to editors Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland of “Ford v Ferrari,” and production designer Barbara Ling and set decorator Nancy Haigh of “Once upon a Time... in Hollywood,” respectively.

Korean short documentary film “In the Absence,” about the Sewol Ferry sinking of 2014, which was nominated for the best short-subject documentary, failed to win. The prize went to “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl),” directed by Carol Dysinger and produced by Elena Andreicheva.

The prizes for best actor and actress in leading roles went to Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker” and Renee Zellweger in “Judy,” respectively. Brad Pitt in “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” won the best actor in a supporting role award, while Laura Dern in “Marriage Story” won the same prize for actress.

“1917,” a World War I film by Sam Mendes, which was in a tight race with “Parasite” for best director and best film, took home three prizes in technical categories: cinematography, sound mixing and visual effects.

By Im Eun-byel (