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Tuesday, 5/28/2019

Retrospective Bong Joon Ho

Star Director from South Korea

SNOWPIERCER

 

Bong Joon Ho is not only one of the most renowned international filmmakers of the moment but also the winner of this year’s Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival. FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is honoring the 49-year-old South Korean director with a retrospective in which the complete works of his nearly 20-year career will be presented.

Bong has been a very successful genre director, dealing with quite varied topics, though solidarity and cohesion are themes that come up time and again in his works. Now the director is represented in this year's CineMasters competition by his brand-new film PARASITE, which won the Palme d'or at Cannes. Here, too, Bong uses creative twists and turns to illustrate the difficulties of human interaction, on the family level as well as the societal level. A family and its sinister acts are at the center of this allegorical drama with comedic undertones. This film deliberately avoids categorization and holds a number of dramatic surprises. This mixture of satire, suspense, and social criticism is typical of Bong Joon Ho and is at the same time something completely new. It's the ideal starting point for discovering or rediscovering his work.

 

MEMORIES OF MURDER and BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE

 

In its subject and tonality, PARASITE harks back to Bong's tragicomic debut, BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE (2000), which at the time started off a remarkable series of films that — how seldom this is — have always been given an extremely positive reception by critics and audiences alike. Bong achieved his breakthrough with the celebrated police thriller MEMORIES OF MURDER (2003), which received numerous awards at festivals around the world. In this feature film, which is based on a true story, two hardened but very different police commissioners investigate the case of a serial killer. It was only natural for the writer-director to continue this winning streak with his disaster and monster movie THE HOST (2006); this elaborate production became the most successful South Korean film of all time and was also enormously well-received abroad. Bong used the monster-movie genre to cleverly sneak in a social satire. Once again, the plot revolves around a family, in this case one that unites to fight off external attacks.

 

THE HOST and MOTHER

 

Bong's next two films, TOKYO! (2008) and MOTHER (German premiere at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2010), were followed by his first English-language film, SNOWPIERCER (2013). This star-studded science-fiction film dealt critically but also entertainingly with social inequality and the disastrous consequences of global warming, making it an excellent example of the functionality of Bong's genre films. Similarly, Bong's Cannes entry OKJA from 2017 is, beneath its spectacular surface, distinctly critical of current phenomena such as factory farming and genetically altered crops.