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A still from Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite
A still from Bong Joon-ho’s Parasitecourtesy of YouTube/CJ Entertainment

Okja’s Bong Joon-ho wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes

Mati Diop also became the first black woman to win an award at the film festival

The 2019 Cannes Film Festival wrapped up yesterday (May 25) and, though Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood seemed to get the lion’s share of press coverage, the jury – led by Alejandro González Iñárritu – left him empty handed. Instead, their choices included a couple of historical firsts.

This year’s prestigious Palme d’Or went to Bong Joon-ho – who we interviewed prior to the release of his subversive, anti-capitalist feature Okja in 2017 – for a self-described “family tragicomedy” titled Parasite.

Parasite is a social satire based around class, involving a lower class family sneakily integrating themselves into a rich family to fund their existence. It also makes Bong Joon-ho the first Korean to take home the top prize.

Another notable award at this year’s festival was the Grand Prix – basically the second place prize – which was won by the Frensh-Senegalese director Mati Diop for her film Atlantics, a Senegalese tale about young migrants and sexuality.

This makes her the first black woman to receive an award in the festival’s 72 year history, which is honestly pretty crazy. “It's pretty late and it's incredible that it is still relevant,” said Diop, after the win was announced.

“My first feeling to be the first black female director was a little sadness that this only happened today in 2019… I knew it as I obviously don't know any black women who came here before. I knew it but it's always a reminder that so much work needs to be done still.”