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Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' and Mati Diop's 'Atlantics' make history at Cannes

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

CANNES, France -- History was made and history repeated itself, albeit with a wicked twist, when Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite" won the Festival de Cannes' Palme d'Or on Saturday night.

Bong, whose most recent films were "Okja" and "Snowpiercer," is the first South Korean director to win Cannes' top prize, and his delight in the victory was visible when he shook his fist in triumph to the crowd as he approached the Palais des Festival stage.

It was the second year in a row an Asian film took the Palme. More than that, the plot of "Parasite," involving a family of grifters, echoed that of last year's Japanese winner, Hirokazu Kore-eda's warm and empathetic "Shoplifters." But that's where the similarities end.

"Parasite" is a savage social satire that goes further than anyone will be expecting, detailing the ways that a family of heartless manipulators mercilessly takes advantage of clueless rich folks. And that's only the beginning.

A superb filmmaker who loves twisting the knife into genre conventions, Bong in his acceptance speech made sure to pay tribute to French director Claude Chabrol, another master of icy crime dramas.

Taking the Grand Prix, Cannes' runner-up prize, was a first feature, Mati Diop's Senegal-set "Atlantics," a haunted and haunting film about star-crossed lovers that combines supernatural elements with social consciousness. Diop became the first black female filmmaker to have a film play in Cannes competition.

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"That film touched us in our hearts," said juror Elle Fanning in the post-awards press conference. "It deals with issues, but it also felt quite personal and vulnerable and very emotional and just quite precious."

The best actor award went to Antonio Banderas in Pedro Almodovar's quasi-autobiographical "Pain and Glory," about a director at a crisis point in his life, and Banderas, who exaggerated the difficulty of climbing the stairs to the stage, paid unstinting tribute to his director.

"We made eight movies together. I respect him. I admire him. I love him," the actor said. "The award has to be dedicated to him; I owe so much to him.

"We suffer a lot as actors; there's a lot of sacrifice, but there are also nights of glory, and this is my night of glory."

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