Bong Joon-ho makes history as first South Korean director to preside over Venice Film Festival jury

Associated Press

“Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho has been selected as jury president of the 78th Venice International Film Festival, organizers said Friday. The Oscar-winner will preside over seven jurors to hand out the festival’s top awards, including the prestigious Golden Lion. He’ll be the first South Korean to hold the post.

In a statement, the director said he is, “Honored to be woven into its beautiful cinematic tradition. As president of the jury — and more importantly as a perpetual cinephile — I’m ready to admire and applaud all the great films selected by the festival. I’m filled with genuine hope and excitement.”

Festival director Alberto Barbera remarked upon the historic nature of the selection.

“We are immensely grateful to him for having agreed to put his passion as a cinephile attentive, inquisitive and unprejudiced, at the service of our festival,” Barbera said. “The decision to entrust the Jury to a Korean filmmaker, for the first time in the festival’s history, is also confirmation that the Venetian event embraces the cinema of the entire world, and that directors from every country know they can consider Venice their second home.”

The Venice Film Festival was one of the only major film festivals to proceed in person last year amid the pandemic. The 78th edition is set to run from Sept. 1-11.

Joon-ho made history last year when his South Korean black comedy "Parasite" won four honors at the 92nd Academy Awards, including becoming the first non-English film to win best picture. The movie also won best international film, best original screenplay and best director, for Joon-ho.

The film introduces the poor, unemployed and scheming Kim family (Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik and Park So-dam). Each member gradually ingratiates themselves into the well-to-do and (mostly) gullible Park household (including Lee Sun-kyun and Jo Yeo-jeong), enjoying the fruits of their underhanded behavior – including a weaponized peach. One trip to the basement, however, turns the entire movie on its head and “Parasite” becomes an engrossing slice of class satire and a human drama that strikes a universal chord in terms of social inequality.

Contributing: Brian Truitt

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