When Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho) hit international film festivals and cinemas worldwide later on, all eyes and ears, were dead-set on it.
A strange public mood seemed to wrap around all movie-goers because no matter where you were, Parasite was a must-see. Soon enough, we all began to see the think-pieces and articles about the film, discussing the ways it tackled culture and class and equality.
Then, more time passed and Parasite did it. It became the one non-English-speaking movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
Even though this is one of the biggest feats a movie can reach, even though this is incredibly barrier-breaking on almost all levels for an international movie, we can’t really say that we all had great hopes for Parasite’s Best Picture win.
See, there’s an unspoken rule in cinema. If it’s foreign, it will be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film category and it might win.
If it’s great, it might get a nomination for Best Picture win and that will be the cherry on the top of a very ambitious cake.
But, here’s the thing. Parasite didn’t only win Best Foreign Language Film; it also won Best Picture. And we don’t know if you noticed, but this means a lot.
This didn’t only break the barriers, it essentially wrecked them.
If you’ve been on the planet any longer than yesterday, you might have noticed that international cinema never wins major awards at the big important cinema awards because these awards are solely focused on English-speaking works, the more American the better, and foreign works are, well, foreign.
The language factor used to mean that no matter what the film is about or however insanely good it is, it will never be a ‘serious’ Oscar contender.
This has been all slowly changing. At the 2018 Oscars, Roma was the first international film to be nominated for Best Picture since 2012’s Amour and that was groundbreaking in its own right and set the scene for the focus shift to international cinema as serious contenders.
This shift means that the Oscars easily can and should highlight international cinema because it delves into topics (class, tension, and gender) that haven’t been as honestly discussed in American and/or mainstream cinema.
Parasite’s win also represents another major change. International films aren’t the ‘other’ anymore. They’ll be taken more seriously with an audience that is now intrigued and more accepting than ever. International cinema will up its game and its funding because now recognition isn’t some long-lost dream; it’s a reality.