Meeting with Bong Joon-ho, the director of Parasite

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Bong joon-ho
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Rediscover our interview with the filmmaker Palmé d’or, produced during the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

Update 07/05/2021: Parasite will be broadcast this Monday evening on France 3, followed by Happy End, by Michael Haneke, within the framework of the special cycle festival of Cannes of France Télévisions – and of France.TV-which takes advantage of the 74th edition (scheduled for July 6 to 17) to broadcast films and programs around the cinematographic event. Since its triumph on the Croisette in May 2019, Parasite won four Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Foreign Film, and one of its lead actors, Song Kang-ho, Jury for Spike Lee, this year. We had just met Bong Joon-ho in Cannes, where this crazy adventure began, and invite you to (re) read his interview to wait until 9:05 pm.

Five iconic roles of Song Kang-ho before Parasite

Published on 05/25/2019: He had found himself so quickly that he spent fifteen years looking for himself. Barking dog (2000) and Memories of Murder (2003), the first two films of Bong joon-ho, had practically toured a certain emerging South Korean cinema: a satirical, haunted, strangely quirky tone, as if stunned by human nature, its share of ridicule (absurd), its share of mystery (unsolved), its share of violence (ultra), its perpetual questioning. Where to go after that, knowing that pretty much everyone in Korea was trying to redo Memories of Muder, again and again ? Since then, the Bong bubble has only grown, film after film, to the international disproportion of Snowpiercer and Okja, at the same time that their quality was somewhat deflated. So he came back, maybe because it was that or get lost, even if he denies it in the following interview, refuting any career management. Return to Korea, return to his favorite actor Song Kang-ho (their fourth film together), return to his characters perpetually overwhelmed by their own actions, return to a political but burlesque reading of society and human beings. To finally come and collect a gold palm on stage. Ladies and Gentlemen: Director Bong Joon-ho

What do you think the spectator expects when paying for his ticket to see a Bong Joon-ho film?

I don’t know what he can expect, but I think I can tell he will almost certainly have something else… I try that each film brings something new, strange, even twisted, in a good way. There is the desire to find each time a tone or a register that is not completely familiar, the hope of achieving something rare, but which touches a part of humanity. My films are made by a Man, they talk about Man, Man is at the heart of the experience.

All of them, yet so different, have in common that they function like fables.

Hearing you say it, I saw them all scrolling through my head, and I started to nod… So I guess that must be true. Even if it was never an intentional step, it is true that they have that aspect or that structure – the last two even more than the others perhaps. For Okja and his big pig, you could almost say that was the genre of the movie. But it’s still true this time around. Afterwards, this aspect does not prevent each of my films from being also very physical and anchored in a realistic universe.

We have the feeling that a contemporary director cannot avoid wondering which filmmaker he is, or which filmmaker he could be. Is this your case?

It depends on how you approach the question. If it’s on the industrial level, how to conduct a career, frankly, that does not interest me the least. I remain driven by my desires, listening to my creative impulses, the stories that come to me, take me, carry me away at a given moment. I can string together three films as different as The Host (2006), Mother (2009) and Snowpiercer (2013) without putting them in perspective, without trying to understand what attracted me to one or the other. Same thing for Parasite. At no time did I tell myself that it was the ” right move »After Okja… It’s just a film that I’ve wanted to make for years, inspired by a news item that struck me. I do not take height or distance to try to make sense of all this and see the “work” that emerges. I made seven feature films. Three more and I’ll pass the double-digit mark. There, maybe I’ll ask myself a little to think about all that. But not right now.

You are a star filmmaker in Korea, very commercial and very recognized at the same time. You make millions of admissions and you are invited to Cannes. It is an incredible luxury, which hardly exists or no longer exists in Europe. Even in the United States, someone like David Fincher had to wait for half a dozen films to get a minimum of “official” recognition.

Yes, I realize that it is a fantastic chance. I started in 2000. People like Park Chan-wook (Old boy) and Kim Jae-won (I met the Devil) were already here for a short time – they are a little older than me. And yes, our generation has benefited from a unique situation, an incredible openness. We were able to impose ourselves by making exactly the films we wanted. We were given tremendous resources and almost absolute freedom. Since then, the studios have become better structured, their ability to control and influence what they finance has become more sophisticated. As a result, the next generation has them much more on their backs than us … And if they refuse to play the game, the floodgates are closed and they have to make do in a context of small indie films. For them, everything is harder. We were the spoiled children of Korean cinema.

Parasite, a furious and masterful political fable [Critique]

The history of Parasite: Ki-taek’s whole family is unemployed. She is particularly interested in the lifestyle of the wealthy Park family. But an incident occurs and the 2 families find themselves involved, without knowing it, in a very strange story …

Trailer :

The secret of Parasite’s special effects revealed in video

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