In this EPA photo, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho speaks during the opening ceremony of the 74th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Palme d'Or and Oscar winner Bong Joon-ho has opened this year's Cannes Film Festival, celebrating the return of world cinema in theaters in about two years.
"I declare (the opening of the 74th festival)," the South Korean auteur said in Korean during the opening ceremony held at the Grand Theatre Lumiere on Tuesday (local time).
Along with him, American director-actress Jodie Foster, Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar and Cannes jury president Spike Lee made the same statements in French, Spanish and English, respectively.
The festival started its 12-day run in the southern coastal city of Cannes, with 24 films, including the opener "Annette" by Leos Carax, competing for the top award.
Bong visited the 2021 edition of the world's most prestigious film event as a special guest two years after he won the top prize of Palme d'Or for his seventh feature "Parasite" in 2019.
He is Cannes' last top prize winner to date as the festival was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said he was asked by Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux to participate in the festival to bridge the gap between the years 2019 and 2021.
"Seeing all you here, I really have the impression there hasn't been a break," he said. "Maybe the festival had a break, but cinema never stopped. Cinema continues to advance like the train in the film of the Lumiere brothers."
The French brothers of Auguste and Louis Lumiere have been regarded as contributors to the birth of cinema in around 1890s.
South Korean actor Song Kang-ho was also on the stage for the opening ceremony as a member of the competition jury. The "Parasite" star is the second Korean actor to join the Cannes jury after actress Jeon Do-yeon in 2014.
"The fact that we are all here together is a miracle," Song said in a press conference held after the ceremony. "Because of that, it's even more of an honor to be here."
Two years ago, Bong and Song took the stage of the festival as "Parasite" was called as the winner of the golden palm trophy.
During the acceptance speech, Bong brought the actor to the microphone to let him have a word and paid tribute to Song, who has starred in several of Bong's pieces, including "The Host" (2006) and "Snowpiercer" (2013)," at a photo-call after the award ceremony.
For this year's Cannes film fest, two South Korean films, Han Jae-rim's "Emergency Declaration" and Hong Sang-soo's "In Front of Your Face," were invited to non-competition categories.
Seasoned Korean actor Lee Byung-hun will present an award at the closing ceremony on July 17. (Yonhap)