Parasite’s Best Picture win puts spotlight on international cinema

This year’s Academy Awards was one of many firsts; the first female orchestra conductor, the first year the Best Foreign Language Feature category was renamed to Best International Film, and, along the same lines, “Parasite” was the first non-english language film to win Best Picture.

Throughout the history of the Oscars, two categories seem to be commonly secluded to their own bubbles: Animated films and Foreign films. These films don’t usually see representation, let alone win, in award categories like direction, screenplay, or Best Picture. That is, until recently.

Last year at the 2019 Academy Awards, “Roma,” a semi-autobiographical film about director Alfonso Cuarón’s experiences growing up in Mexico City, was nominated for 10 awards, and won for Cinematography, Director, and Foreign Language film, yet failed to take home the coveted Best Picture.

It seemed like, regardless of the accolades, international films just weren’t able to seize that last trophy. That is, until “Parasite.”

Parasite was nominated for six awards; Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best International Film, Best Director, and Best Picture.

By the end of the night, director Bong Joon Ho and “Parasite” took home four wins; Screenplay, International Film, Best Director, and Best Picture.

It was the first South Korean film to receive a Best Picture nomination, and the only non-English speaking film to win the award.

However, this isn’t only a victory for Bong Joon Ho, his crew, and “Parasite,” it is also a win for international films in general.

Many people had no idea what “Parasite” was until the Oscar Buzz started, and now that it is receiving recognition, a whole new market of American movie watchers are giving this international film a chance.

Every country and culture in the world has their traditions, as well as their own unique problems.

In the United States, many use media and creative outlets to express their concerns and to explore the issues that their society is facing. Watching films from other cultures is a good way for audiences across the world not only learn how other societies operate, but also about the problems they are facing.

Outside of these cultural contexts, there is one very important thing to remember about international films: they are films first and foremost. The act of filmmaking is no different; hopefully that is what the success of “Parasite” will illustrate, not only to the public, but to the Academy as well.

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