Written by Shona Smith on May 28, 2019. Posted in Awards and Festivals

Cannes' most prestigious prize goes to South Korea's Bong Joon-Ho

The jury, led by Argentina’s Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, made history by awarding top prizes to South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite, the first time the top prize has gone to a South Korean feature. The Grand Prix went to French-Seneglese director Mati Diop for Atlantique (Atlantic), marking the first time the coveted prize have gone to a black female director in Cannes' seventy-two year history.

Bong Joon-Ho director (Okja, Snowpiercer) scooped up the top prize for Parasite, which he describes as “a candid and realistic portrayal of the rich and poor”. Set in modern South Korea, the black comedy follows a poor family gradually infiltrate a upper class family in the capital Seoul. Jury president Iñárritu stated “there’s an unexpected way that the film takes us through different genres, and spoke in a funny way about something so relevant and urgent and global in such a local film with efficiency”.

In 2018, the Palme D’or went to another film from an Asian director. Japan's Hirokazu Koreeda took home the prestigious prize for Shoplifters, a feature grappling with similar themes as Parasite.

The Grand Prix, or second place prize went to Atlantique, a film about Senegalese refugees directed by Mati Diop. Diop had already made history when her feature Atlantic was announced in the competition line-up, making her the first black female director to be in the running for the Palme D’or. The win means that she has now become the first to win an award at the festival. Netflix has acquired the rights to the film for international distribution.

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