Cannes 2019: Korean director Bong Joon-ho wins top prize

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s social satire Parasite, about a poor family of hustlers who find jobs with a wealthy family, won the Cannes Film Festival’s top award, the Palme d’Or, on Saturday.

The win for Parasite marks the first Korean film to ever win the Palme. In the festival’s closing ceremony, jury president Alejandro Inarritu said the choice had been “unanimous” for the nine-person jury.

The genre-mixing film had been celebrated as arguably the most critically acclaimed film at Cannes this year and the best yet from the 49-year-old director of Snowpiercer and Okja.

It was the second straight Palme victory for an Asian director. Last year, the award went to Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters.

Two years ago, Bong was in Cannes’ competition with Okja, a movie distributed in North America by Netflix. After Okja and another Netflix release, Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories, premiered in Cannes, the festival ruled that all films in competition needed French theatrical distribution. Netflix has since withdrawn from the festival on the French Riveira.

The festival’s second place award, the Grand Prize, went to French-Senegalese director Mati Diop’s Atlantics. Diop was the first black female director in competition at Cannes.

Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne shared the best director for Young Ahmed.

Best actor went to Antonio Banderas for Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory, while best actress was won by British actress Emily Beecham for Little Joe.

Although few quibbled with the choice of Bong, some had expected Cannes to make history by giving the Palme to a female filmmaker for just the second time.

Céline Sciamma’s period romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire was the Palme pick for many critics this year, but it ended up with best screenplay.

In the festival’s 72-year history, only Jane Champion has won the prize, in 1993 for The Piano, and she tied with Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine.

Show More