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Parasite: Everything you need to know about Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-nominated film | Ents & Arts News



Parasite has made history as the first Korean film to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars.

With five additional Academy awards nods, four BAFTA nods and a Golden Globe and Palme d’Or already in the bag, it’s one of the most talked about films of the year.

Here’s everything you need to know about Bong Joon Ho’s black comedy.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
It’s a story of haves and have-nots, told through two families. Pic. Studio Canal

What’s Parasite about?

Parasite is a social satire about two families, the poor Kim family and rich Park family.

The Kims live in a squalid basement flat, while the Parks lead an Instagram perfect life.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
The film has a legion of fans who use the #BongHive. Pic. Studio Canal
Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
The Park family have an aspirational lifestyle in a gorgeous house. Pic. Studio Canal

But when the Kims are gifted a ‘scholars rock’ (Korean stones that are believed to bring wisdom) their fortunes start to change.

Led by the son of the family, who becomes a tutor for the Park’s daughter, the Kims infiltrate the lives of the wealthy family one by one, telling the odd lie along the way.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
Couldn’t we all do with a scholars rock in our life? Pic. Studio Canal

However, just when the Kims start getting used to the added perks of their new employers, things take a very dark turn.

Capitalism, greed and class discrimination are the stand out themes.

Who’s the director?

It’s the seventh feature film from South Korean director Bong Joon Ho.

The 50-year-old filmmaker is known for his political commentary, black humour and long-takes which incorporate multiple on-screen happenings.

Parasite director Bong Joon-Ho shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics' Choice Awards
Bong Joon-Ho shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics’ Choice Awards

Mixing genres, playing with rhythm and sudden mood shifts are also Bong trademarks.

Bong already achieved mainstream success with 2017 adventure Okja, about a genetically modified superpig, and 2013 climate-change disaster movie Snowpiercer.

Parasite has now firmly established him as one of the world’s leading filmmakers.

What’s the inspiration?

Bong came up with the idea for Parasite in 2013, prompted by the notion that “everyone loves to spy on the private lives of strangers”.

Bong himself was briefly a maths tutor for a rich family when he was a student, but unlike Ki-wood in the film, he was fired after just a few months. He says it’s because he was “horrible at maths”.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
The lives of the rich and beautiful will always be of interest to others. Pic. Studio Canal
Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
Bong was once a tutor himself, but it didn’t work out. Pic. Studio Canal

Bong doesn’t specifically label any of his characters as villains, and the identity of the ‘parasites’ of the title is open to interpretation.

In his director’s statement he calls it “a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains, all leading to a violent tangle and a headlong plunge down the stairs”.

Is it subtitled?

Yes. The film is based in South Korea, and the actors speak Korean throughout.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
The film is in Korean, with subtitles throughout. Pic. Studio Canal

The film did not qualify for the best picture category in the Golden Globes for this very reason.

The Globes stipulate each nominee must feature “more than 50% English dialogue”.

What age rating is it?

Parasite has a 15 rating, listing strong bloody violence, language, sex and sex references as features of the film.

How long is it?

It has a fairly long running time of two hours and 12 minutes.

Who’s in it?

The film stars the director’s frequent collaborator, actor Song Kang Ho as, Ki-teak – an unemployed and unambitious 50-something, and patriarch of the Kim family.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
South Korean actor Song Kang Ho leads the cast. Pic. Studio Canal

Other lead cast members include Jang Hye-jin as his supportive wife Chung-sook; Choi Woo-Shik as his college-age son Ki-wood and Park So-Dam as his cynical twenty-something daughter Ki-jung.

Despite their critically acclaimed performances, none of the stars were nominated in any of the Oscar acting categories. The inevitable language barrier is likely to have impeded their chances.

What are people saying about it?

The film’s been a massive hit with audiences and critics in the South Korea (where it came out in May) and the US (where it came out in October – four months ahead of the UK release date).

Critics have called it a “masterpiece”, hailing Bong as “one of the best filmmakers in the world” and some have even compared him to master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock.

Parasite had the most successful opening weekend in America since La La Land in 2016, making it the best-ever performing foreign language film at the box-office.

It has since grossed nearly $150m (£115m) worldwide.

Movie aggregation website IMDB have scored it 8.6, based on over 140,000 user ratings.

Rotten Tomatoes say it’s 99% fresh, based on 350 reviews.

And what is #BongHive?

The movie has spawned a host of memes on social media, with fans of the film adopting the hashtag #BongHive.

Initially set up by three young writers, the film’s distributor Neon has wasted no time capitalising on the social following.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
Social media has helped spread the movie far and wide. Pic. Studio Canal

Merchandise has followed, including T-shirts, hats and a ringtone.

Bong, who’s not on social media, says he’s grateful for the positive response.

Are they making a TV show?

HBO are planning to turn the film into an English language TV series according to Variety, with Bong and Vice director Adam McKay heading up the production.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
Fans will be pleased to hear there’s likely to be a TV show to follow. Pic. Studio Canal

Bong told Deadline he wanted to cram in all the ideas that wouldn’t fit into the two-hour film.

It’s not yet known whether this expanded Parasite production will be set in America or South Korea.

Will it win an Oscar?

It stands a very good chance, and has been nominated for six Oscars – best film, best director, original screenplay, film editing, production design and best international feature film.

It’s made history as the first Korean movie to ever receive a nod for best picture.

Only 11 international films have ever been nominated in the Academy’s most high-profile category in its 92 year history.

Should it win – it will be the first foreign language film to ever do so.

It’s also the first Korean film to be nominated for best international film.

Bong is the only BAME filmmaker to make the best director category.

The Oscars are held in Los Angeles on Sunday 9 February.

What does Bong think of that?

Bong says he watched nominations at home on his tablet and was particularly anxious during the best picture category as Parasite wasn’t announced until last of a list of nine.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
Bong’s wait was worth it, with Parasite getting six Oscar nods. Pic. Studio Canal

It was read out after 1917 and Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood as presenters always reveal movies in alphabetical order.

He called it big event for the Korean film industry, and a rare and precious opportunity for Asian cinema as well.

Bong said he hopes it will serve as inspiration for a lot of people.

What other big awards has it already won?

The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and was unanimously voted the winner of the Palme d’Or. It’s the first Korean film to win the prestigious prize.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Pic. Studio Canal
Couldn’t we all do with a scholars rock in our life? Pic. Studio Canal

It won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film too.

And Bong shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics’ Choice Awards, as well as taking best foreign language film.

Aside from Oscars, what else could it add to its haul?

It’s now in the running for four BAFTAS – best film, best director, best original screenplay and best film not in the English language.

The BAFTA ceremony takes place at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 2 February.

When’s it out?

Parasite is out in around 150 UK cinemas from Friday 7 February, and will then be released in around 300 cinema from mid-February.

It will come to Amazon Prime Video in the summer.

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Coronavirus: World leaders must overcome differences to fight COVID-19, PM to warn | World News



Boris Johnson will warn the coronavirus pandemic has divided the international community, as he pledges hundreds of millions of pounds to the World Health Organisation to fight future viruses.

In a speech at the UN General Assembly later, the prime minister will warn that countries must work together and overcome the divisions created by the global health crisis or risk it spiralling out of control.

Mr Johnson will also make a large financial commitment to the WHO, making the UK the largest country-donor to the organisation just months after Donald Trump froze US funding.

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He will say: “After nine months of fighting COVID, the very notion of the international community looks tattered.

“We know that we cannot continue in this way. Unless we unite and turn our fire against our common foe, we know that everyone will lose.

“Now is the time therefore – here at what I devoutly hope will be the first and last ever Zoom UNGA – for humanity to reach across borders and repair these ugly rifts.”

The prime minister will also unveil an ambitious plan, timed to coincide with the UK presidency of the G7 next year, designed to prevent future global health crisis.

In his pre-recorded speech, Mr Johnson will add: “Here in the UK, the birthplace of Edward Jenner who pioneered the world’s first vaccine, we are determined to do everything in our power to work with our friends across the UN to heal those divisions and to heal the world.”

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer

Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer argue about coronavirus testing

The five point plan, developed with the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to identify dangerous pathogens which could make the leap between animals and humans before they lead to COVID-like pandemics.

He will also commit to an extra £71m for 27 million vaccine doses for the UK to combat COVID-19 and spend £500m to help poorer nations tackle the virus.

Announcing the UK will increase funding to the WHO by 30 per cent Mr Johnson will call for countries to work together, not pull apart.

The £340m investment will be spent over the next four years and comes after President Trump criticised the WHO for failing to tackle the virus in the early stages. The UK funding will aim to ensure the organisation can be flexible and respond quickly to any future pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his address on coronavirus

22 September: Boris Johnson’s address to the nation

Mr Johnson will also set out further initiatives the UK plans to champion when it takes charge of the G7 next year, including a global pandemic early warning system, better manufacturing capability for treatments, global protocols for future health emergencies and a plan to reduce trade barriers to help nations respond more quickly in future.

In the early stages of the pandemic some nations increased tariffs on key goods such as soap, making it difficult for poorer nations to respond well.

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Plane carrying aviation students crashes in Ukraine killing 22 | World News



A military transport plane carrying students from an aviation school has crashed in northeastern Ukraine, killing at least 22 people on board, officials have said.

The Antonov An-26 had been trying to land during a training exercise when it burst into flames just a mile short of a military airport on Friday evening.

General Staff of the Armed Forces Ruslan Khomchak said that, as well as those killed, at least two people were critically injured.

A total of 27 people were on the plane, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

Most of those on board were students from the Kharkiv University of Air Force, which is run by the country’s defence ministry.

Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko posted video showing the plane in flames with smoke billowing upwards.

Other pictures showed rescue workers inspecting the wreckage near Chuhuiv, about 250 miles east of Ukraine’s capital Kiev.

The cause of the crash is being investigated but one pilot reported the failure of one of the plane’s two engines, according to Oleksiy Kucher, the governor of the Kharkiv region.

He told Interfax Ukraine this would not have been a critical situation for an experienced pilot.

Some of those on board managed to jump out of the plane as it flew at low altitude, he added, something confirmed by a witness on the Ukraine 24 news channel.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will visit the scene on Saturday.

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Breonna Taylor: Armed civilians are demonstrating their power in wake of decision over her killing | US News



Louisville is a tinder box of rage and frustration.

Protesters have been taking to the streets for 121 nights since Breonna Taylor was killed.

This week the city has been in a state of emergency, roads closed and businesses barricades. Military personnel line the streets, armoured vehicles patrol the airport and protesters hold vigil at a square, waiting for curfew to fall before they march.

There have been tense stand-offs in Louisville
Protesters are armed and demonstrating their power

But there’s another group who’ve started to make their presence felt in the past few days – loaded with rifles and army fatigues they look like active military personnel.

But they are in fact a far-right group who call themselves the Oath Keepers, described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as one of the largest radical anti-government groups in the US.

We find them in the car park of a hotel. There are about 30 of them and the protesters marching by are immediately aggravated by the sight of them.

The anti-government group insists they’ve been invited here by business owners. The founder, Stewart Rhodes tells me: “We’re here to protect businesses and apartments. We’re also here protecting residents.

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“We don’t want to say who they are or where they lived because they’re afraid. We’re protecting life and property.”

The crowd that’s started to form around them is clearly incensed.

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There are tense exchanges playing out everywhere as the two sides face off.

One member, George Douglas Smith Jr, tells me he won’t raise his gun unless damage is done. He said: “What they do in their organisation is fine. Unless they try to turn the buildings down.

“I made a solemn oath to the store owners that I won’t let that happen even if this crowd beats me downs and kill me.”

It is an austerely incongruous sight, but it’s become painfully commonplace in the pockets of tension around America that seemingly keep emerging. A nation where heavily armed civilians feel emboldened to demonstrate their power.

It constantly feels like the mood and risk can radically shift at any moment.

The protesters eventually make their way out of the car park, many encouraging each other not to rise to the bait.

For another two hours, they walk around Louisville. They eventually make their way to a church where they’re welcomed in and offered refreshments.

The police keep watch on the edge of the grounds. It is a far less disparate and chaotic scene than some of the skirmishes and arrests we witnessed the night before, when two officers were shot.

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But it’s a constant game of cat and mouse that’s hard to imagine any resolution to right now.

Twenty five minutes out of town, we meet neighbours of Breonna Taylor who were there the night she died. They’re incredulous at the grand jury’s decision not to charge any officers with her killing.

Deja Moore lives opposite Breonna’s apartment. She tells me there were gun shells all around her door and she could see Breonna’s body.

The attorney general said the police announced their presence. But Deja is emphatic that she and others didn’t hear it.

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She is exasperated at the lack of progress on racial justice in America, but defiant too.

“Honestly a change needs to come. Whether they like it or not it’s going to turn violent. We’re upset, angry, disappointed and if they won’t change it we will,” she said.

Quite what the change looks like in a country where it’s proved so illusive, is very unclear.

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