The first ever foreign language film to win an Oscar for Best Picture, “Parasite” dominated the awards, winning also for, Best Director, Best International Film, and Best Original Screenplay. Director Bong Joon Ho paid tribute to one of his inspirations during the night; Martine Scorsese.
We have a saying in Korea; “The more personal you get, the more creative you are.” –Bong Joon Ho
The following is the excerpt of Oscar Winner Bong Joon Ho, backstage at the Oscars.
Q (…)What does this (win) do for the acceptance in this country of foreign language films, films with subtitles? Is this a breakthrough moment, do you think, and allows you, other people from — who make films in foreign languages?
A. [Bong Joon Ho Translated] So during the Golden Globes I mentioned the one-inch barrier of subtitles, but I feel like that was already a little late. People were already overcoming these barriers. There are streaming services, YouTube, social media, and the environment that we currently live in, I think we are all connected. So I think naturally we will come to a day when a foreign language film — or not, it doesn’t really matter — a foreign language film winning this won’t be much of an issue later on, hopefully.
Q. This is amazing. This is history tonight. This is history, not just for the Academy Awards, but for South Korea. Can you please talk about that significance?
A. [Kwak Sin Ae Translated] So it’s the first time a Korean film has been nominated for the Oscars, so to just win one award would have been a huge celebration, but to win in four categories, six Oscars in total, I can’t even imagine the atmosphere in Korea right now and what would happen when we get back. But I did once imagine what it would mean to win Best Picture. To win Best Picture means that this film was voted by the members of the Academy, and I realized that that would signal the beginning of a different kind of change for international cinema, not just for Korea. So in that sense, it would have been great to win. We did win.
Q. What a historic night. Four historic wins for South Korea and also for Asians in general. So, Mr. Joon Ho, can you talk about your early influences, Asian directors in particular, who influenced you when you were growing up and to make you what you are now?
A. [Bong Joon Ho In English] It’s quite many. So first of all, the Kim Ki-young, the Korean big master, he is a huge master in the 1960s and ’70s who made THE HOUSEMAID, the movie digitally restored by the Martin Scorsese Foundation, you can find out that movie in the Criterion DVD, I strongly recommend. And I also strongly inspired by many Japanese directors, like Imamura Shohei, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, all those masters, and also, yeah, quite many wonderful Asian directors. For example, the Taipei New Wave directors, like Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang, they also — they made always so beautiful movie which I admire so much, yeah.
Q. Your win is not just a win for South Korea, but it’s a win for international films, especially Asian cinema. My question is, what is your message for the actors of Asian descent that are based in Hollywood? It’s more than winning an Oscar, more than getting a nomination. They’re just fighting to get more work. What is your message? What does this award mean to them?
A. [Bong Joon Ho In English] Yesterday, in the Indie Spirit — Indie Spirit Award, THE FAREWELL, Lulu Wang, won the Best Picture, so I was so happy with her. I really love her works and — [Bong Joon Ho Translated] but I don’t think it’s necessary to separate all the borders and divisions, whether it’s Asia, Europe or the U.S. If we pursue the beauty of cinema and focus on the individual charms that each piece has, I think then we will naturally overcome all these barriers.
Transcript ©2020 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ® used with kind courtesy.
Happy New Year from The Hollywood Sentinel! We are already into February, with the new awards season upon us. The Golden Globe and Grammy Awards have commenced, and the Oscars have now commenced.
Congratulations to all of the nominees, and winners.
When a stranger is shocked at another strangers random act of kindness, you know that we are in dark times. But are they indeed that dark?
Since the creation of man, there has always been one man or group of men seeking to impose their whims upon the will of another man or group by force. There has always been what some call “evil” on this planet. But there is also good.
Most people are basically good, and want peace, and random acts of kindness happen every day; more than acts of evil. The good is just not usually reported.
If human beings were not mostly good, the world would have ended long ago. And if any group of men in any church or government knew how to save all of humanity from ourselves, that would have happened by now too.
Both good and evil are within us all. It is up to us to choose. What master do you follow? Is anger, hatred, and cruelty your way? Or do you seek to be calm, forgive others and yourself, and try to be kind to yourself and others?
I have never met a man who tried to do good, who wished instead he were bad. But I have met many bad men who were ashamed at who they were, and wanted to turn good.
It has been said that the only thing for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing. And so what good does it do the world when good people are silent? When evil is not confronted? Is this who are? Should we allow comedians, politicians, or reporters to tell us to sit down and shut up, and then obey in silence?
The nature of a human being is to be free. Free to choose what we do, so long as it does not harm another. And our nature is to be free to speak and express ourselves as we see fit. If that means expressing ourselves in the media, on the stage, or in the streets, then so be it. We may not always get it right. Contrary to the delusions of some–no one is perfect. But at least we can say we tried. At least we can lift our hearts and our voices with our spirits united, and fight for what we believe in.
The world doesn’t need another verbally abusive public figure, whether that person is hosting an awards show, or hosting the governments of the world. It’s not cool to be a jerk anymore. * Perhaps the only people not tired of mean, abusive people, are other mean and abusive people themselves.
And so let us fight the good fight. Follow what you know is true and good in your own heart and mind, and fight for what you believe in. Don’t let anyone silence you into submission now because they say you were not loud enough before. Do not be afraid of bullies or tyrants. Do not deny your soul the freedom it demands–to tell the truth, to condemn evil, and to be free. This isn’t just being a good American–it’s being a good human being.
Being an artist is not just about creating your art. Being an artist who is true to yourself is about ‘living’ your art. At that means being true to who you are and what you believe in. Be brave. Dare to change the world for the better. And happy new year.
Enjoy the new issue.
©2020, The Hollywood Sentinel