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Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite Wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes

Director Bong Joon-ho smiles and raises his hand in triumph.
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho reacts on stage after winning the Palme d’Or.
Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival ended on Saturday, and South Korean director Bong Joon-ho has won the Palme d’Or for Parasite, Variety reports. The winning film was chosen in a unanimous decision by the festival’s feature films jury, which was headed this year by director Alejandro Iñárritu. The jury also included actress Elle Fanning, director Kelly Reichardt and director Yorgos Lanthimos. Bong, who also directed Okja, Mother, The Host, and Snowpiercer, is the first Korean director to win the Palme d’Or. Here’s the trailer for Parasite:

This year’s Grand Prix went to French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop for Atlantics, a film she wrote and directed about a woman left behind in Dakar when the man she loves seeks a better life for himself in Europe. It’s Diop’s first feature; she is also the first black female filmmaker to show a film in competition at Cannes. There doesn’t seem to be an official trailer yet, but Netflix has acquired the film, so it can’t be far off. In the meantime, the festival released a brief excerpt:

Antonio Banderas won the Best Actor award for his performance in Pain and Glory, a semiautobiographical film from Pedro Almodóvar. “This is my night of glory,” Banderas said as he accepted the award. Judging from the trailer, the film does not appear to be a stealth sequel to Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain.

Best Actress this year went to Emily Beecham for the film Little Joe, a sci-fi thriller directed by Jessica Hausner from a screenplay by Hausner and Geraldine Bajard. Beecham plays a scientist who develops a genetically modified plant that can treat depression. There’s no trailer, but here’s the movie’s “Don’t go in the basement!” moment: Hausner introducing her son to her newest invention.

Best screenplay went to Portrait of a Lady on Fire, written and directed by Céline Sciamma. Set in the 1770s, Sciamma’s film traces the relationship between a reluctant bride-to-be and the female artist who’s been hired to paint her portrait. Two-time Palme d’Or winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne had to settle for Best Director this year for Young Ahmed, which is about a Muslim tween in Belgium who plots a murder while under the influence of a radical imam:

This year’s jury prize was a tie between Les Misérables, a police drama directed by Ladj Ly from a script by Ly, Alexis Manenti, and Giordano Gederlini, and Bacurau, about a Brazilian town that disappears from the map after its local matriarch dies, written and directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles. Finally, a special mention went to It Must Be Heaven, from Palestinian writer/director Elia Suleiman. American filmmakers Terrence Malick, Quentin Tarantino, and Jim Jarmusch also had films in competition this year, but came up empty.

Jury president Iñárritu acknowledged that many of this year’s winning films had political themes, saying that “sometimes art can see the future,” but assured everyone that politics weren’t part of the deliberations. “These were cinematic decisions, not political agendas,” he said. But if international politics did enter the conversation at Cannes this year, it wouldn’t be the first time. Although the inaugural festival didn’t happen until 1946, Cannes was originally conceived in the 1930s as an alternative to the Venice Film Festival’s pro-Fascist bias. Just something to keep in mind as this year’s Oscar race heats up!