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Oscars 2020: Bong Joon Ho praises translator Sharon Choi, who is also a director

Bong Joon Ho, winner of the international feature and best picture Oscar for ‘Parasite' at the 92nd Academy Awards.
Bong Joon Ho, winner of the international feature and best picture Oscar for “Parasite” at the 92nd Academy Awards.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Like much of the film world, the “Parasite” team was still reeling from its historic best picture win Sunday at the 92nd Academy Awards as they made their way backstage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, greeted by a standing ovation from journalists.

“When we have these amazing results, it still feels very surreal,” said director Bong Joon Ho. “I feel like something will hit me, and I will wake up from this dream. It’s literally … crazy.”

Though the filmmaker has received critical acclaim for past projects like “Okja,” the overwhelming success and global popularity of “Parasite” — a 100% Korean-language project — has inspired Bong to look to his roots.

“That’s what made me think that, perhaps, the deeper I delve into things that are around me, the broader the story can become and the more appeal it can have to an international audience,” he said.

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The director winner also gave a shout-out to fellow nominee Martin Scorsese, to whom he delivered a touching tribute during an emotional acceptance speech earlier Sunday night.

“I’ve seen Scorsese lose this award multiple times, and he didn’t know me back then, but I was so frustrated,” Bong said. “To be nominated with him has been a huge honor. It’s hard to believe.”

And, of course, the team addressed the major strides “Parasite” has made for South Korean cinema — which hadn’t been recognized by the motion picture academy until Sunday night — as well as the boundaries it has broken for all international titles.

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“During the Golden Globes, I mentioned the one-inch barrier subtitles, but I feel like that was already a little late,” Bong said. “I think we’re all connected, so I think naturally, we will come to a day when, foreign-language film or not, it doesn’t really matter. A foreign-language film winning [best picture], won’t be much of an issue later on, hopefully.”

“It’s the first time a Korean film has been nominated for the Oscars, so to just win one award would have been a huge celebration,” added producer Kwak Sin Ae. “But to win four categories ... I can’t even imagine the atmosphere in Korea right now and what will happen when we get back.”

2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards - Show
Bong Joon Ho, winner of the award for international film for “Parasite,” and interpreter Sharon Choi at the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday in Santa Monica, Calif.
(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

After celebrating fellow trailblazing Asian filmmaker Lulu Wang for her recent Indie Spirit Award win for “The Farewell,” Bong then turned the spotlight on another female Asian director — his translator, Sharon Choi — who blushed and cowered behind her hands as he promoted her work.

“She’s a filmmaker, and she studied film at university,” Bong said, beaming at Choi, who has been by his side for “Parasite’s” entire awards-season run. “I’m so curious about her script. She’s writing a feature-length script. I’m so curious about it.”


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