Filipinos are rejoicing: Oscars haul of ‘Parasite’ a victory for Asia, world cinema

February 10, 2020 - 9:47 PM
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Parasite crew
Bong Joon Ho and the cast of "Parasite" pose at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020. (Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S./Handout via Reuters)

The act of South Korean film “Parasite” sweeping trophies at the 92nd Academy Awards is considered a victory in the struggle for Asian representation at the most prestigious award ceremony accused of lacking in diversity.

The comedy-thriller bagged the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film, making it the movie that earned the most number of trophies at this year’s Oscars.

The victory was very much welcomed by the film and entertainment industry in the Philippines, as well as Filipino viewers who found the South Korean film’s success a milestone for them as Asians.

“This means a lot to Asian cinema and filmmakers. Thank you, Bong Joon Ho,” filmmaker and director Antoinette Jadaone tweeted in reference to the film’s director.

Kapamilya host Bianca Gonzalez said that “it is a great day for World Cinema” as an Asian film got recognized for its outstanding merit.

Another filmmaker and director, Dan Villegas, shared that Bong’s victory felt as if he himself had “won” in a metaphorical context.

A Twitter user who claimed to be bullied “for being Asian/Filipino” said that “Parasite’s” success is a way to “finally” learn how to fully embrace the nationality without reluctance.

Why representation matters 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, composed of Hollywood filmmakers of various fields and actors, has been accused of lacking diversity for the past years.

The now-famous phrase “Oscars So White” has been thrown around in the past few years to describe an awards show dominated by Caucasian people. It initially trended as a hashtag on social media.

Writer, editor and lawyer April Reign created the hashtag in 2015 as a way to protest the lack of representation of colored artists among nominees at the awards which honor the best technical and creative achievements in the film industry every year.

She said she created the hashtag to “mock the lack of diversity at the award show,” HuffPost noted.

“But almost immediately, users adopted it to call out the show in their own way and highlight the need for more inclusion of stars of color,” it added.

Reign in a January 2020 article wrote that while Oscars “has improved a bit” in terms of recognizing works and people of non-Caucasian background, she was still “disappointed” as “there were so many talented filmmakers who were not going to be acknowledged and recognized by their peers.”

“#OscarsSoWhite has always encompassed all traditionally underrepresented communities, not just race and ethnicity: It’s also gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, First Nations status and age,” she explained.

“Parasite” is the first Asian film to have won the Best Picture and the Best Original Screenplay award in the history of Oscars.