Oscar-winning “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho is calling on his fellow filmmakers to use their medium to respond to the racism and hate directed towards Asian and Black communities.
“I’m far away in Korea and I have to see everything in the news from an outsider’s perspective, but as someone who is a part of mankind, as a person, it’s quite fearful to watch the hate crimes against Asian-Americans and the BLM movement,” he says during a virtual masterclass with Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in California.
Appearing with his longtime translator Sharon Choi, the director implores filmmakers to “use your insight to portray the issues that are currently boiling underneath the surface of society that can explode later on.”
He continues, “I do think about what the film industry can do at this time. With films, creating a film takes a lot of time and a lot of money; it’s a big unit that can’t really respond quickly to issues that are currently happening in society. It’s a medium that’s difficult to use when you are trying to respond in real-time. But ironically, because of that, I think creators and filmmakers can be bolder with dealing with issues and they shouldn’t be afraid to confront them.”
Referencing Spike Lee’s 1989 drama “Do The Right Thing”, Bong says that’s precisely the type of storytelling he’d like to see emerge from this moment in history. “That film came out in 1989; it was three years before the L.A. Riots but almost predicted the riots were going to happen,” he says before explaining he tried to take a similar approach with his multiple Oscar-winning “Parasite”.
“For me, ‘Parasite’ was a film where I tried to take that approach,” he says, explaining that the movie “talks about the haves and have-nots of our current society.
“It began with a question of ‘What does it mean to be poor or rich in our current times?’ As creators and artists, you sort of have to see through the essence and the central questions in our society through the days that you live through and send a reply to those questions through your work.”