Korean film “Parasite” garners Oscar buzz

World Today

Korean film "Parasite" garners Oscar buzz

It’s rare that a film with subtitles can get the attention of mainstream American audiences but Korean movie “Parasite” has done just that – becoming the highest-grossing foreign film of 2019.

This is just the latest indication that interest in Asian cinema is growing in the U.S.

CGTN’s Karina Huber reports on the U.S.’s growing interest in Asian cinema.

Earlier this year black comedy thriller “Parasite” became the first Korean film to pick up the prestigious Palme D’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Some film buffs think it could win the top prize in the U.S.

“It seems not only poised for winning a best foreign Oscar but for some it could be up for best picture. That’s the buzz,” said David Wilentz, Programmer at the New York Asian Film Festival.

The film centers around two Korean families on opposite ends of the income gap. It’s a genre-defying movie with universal themes directed by the acclaimed Bong Joon-ho.

The film is both a critical and box office success in the U.S. It is the highest-grossing foreign film of 2019 and critics across the board have given it a thumbs up.

The movie comes a year after Japanese film “Shoplifters” won the Palme D’Or. It too was about class warfare.

It also comes on the heels of the massive box office success of “Crazy Rich Asians”—an American film set in Singapore with an Asian cast.

Wilentz who programs the New York Asian Film Festival, says interest in Asian movies is growing. He says the annual festival that began 18 years ago with 11 films now screens 56 of them over a two-week period.

Growing numbers of Asian immigrants could have something to do with it but Wilentz believes it’s also because countries like Korea, India, Japan and China have developed robust film industries with better distribution.

“Mainland Chinese films – you can see them at the AMC 25, which is a normal cineplex. Although they’re directed more towards the Chinese diaspora, they’re there – the mainstream films have sort of supplanted what used to be sort of underground here,” he said.

The films are also no longer mainly focused on martial arts and action, which Wilentz believes is helping to grow a more diverse audience.

“Over the years, Asian cinema in general is becoming – especially recently – is becoming way more out of the margins.”

Busting out of traditional narratives seems to be a winning approach. Will it give “Parasite” a chance at Oscar gold? We’ll find out on Jan. 13 when the nominations are announced.