Courtesy of Venice Film Festival
“Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho will preside over the main jury of the 78th Venice Film Festival in September, marking the first time a South Korean director has been picked as the Lido’s top juror.
Bong, who does not have a previous rapport with Venice, made history in 2020 when “Parasite” became the first foreign-language film to win best picture in the nearly 100-year history of the Academy Awards — and three other Oscars on top of that –– after winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2019.
“Venice International Film Festival carries with it a long and varied history, and I’m honored to be woven into its beautiful cinematic tradition,” the director said in a statement. “As president of the jury — and more importantly as a perpetual cinephile — I’m ready to admire and applaud all the great films selected by the festival. I’m filled with genuine hope and excitement.”
Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera in the statement noted that “the first item of good news regarding the 78th Venice Film Festival is that Bong Joon Ho has enthusiastically agreed to preside over the jury,” and called Bong “one of the most authentic and original voices in worldwide cinema.”
“We are immensely grateful to him for having agreed to put his passion as a cinephile attentive, inquisitive and unprejudiced at the service of our festival,” Barbera added. “It is a pleasure and an honor to be able to share the joy of this moment with the countless admirers, throughout the world, of his extraordinary movies.”
Known for weaving social issues into personal drama, Bong has been an icon of Korean cinema since the charming but troubling “Memories of Murder” in 2003. “The Host” in 2006 was one of South Korea’s first films to achieve $10 million in ticket sales, showing his history of putting the country on the map as a creative powerhouse.
His science-fiction parable “Snowpiercer,” starring Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, and Octavia Spencer, marked Bong’s major international breakout, followed by “Okja” in 2017. Bong was also named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People of 2020.”
Venice in 2020 pulled off the remarkable feat of being the only top-tier international festival to hold an, albeit smaller than usual, physical edition despite the pandemic. The event’s 77th edition held in September, before the second wave of COVID 19 struck, saw Chloé Zhao’s acclaimed road movie “Nomadland,” starring Frances McDormand, win the Golden Lion. “Nomadland” is now expected to be a major awards player, bolstering the Lido’s status as an prime awards season launching pad.
The 78th edition of Venice is scheduled to run Sept. 1-11, 2021
Variety's Nick Vivarelli contributed to this post.