'Parasite' Director Bong Joon-ho on Why He Doesn't Feel Restricted to Any Film Genre

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Bong Joon Ho

"As an artist, I think that my job is to just tell stories; I'm a storyteller," the filmmaker said at the Arclight Hollywood on Wednesday evening.

After making a triumphant tour of prestigious film festivals, including winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes, South Korean director Bong Joon Ho finally brought his latest film, Parasite, to Los Angeles for a premiere at the Arclight Theater on Wednesday night.

The Korean-language film has been described as a dark fable that explores class conflict and inequality through the clashing lives of two families, one wealthy and the other poor. The film, which alternates between being darkly funny, dramatic and, at times, horrifying, had its premiere-night audience on the edge of their seats as the tale unfolded.

Speaking through a translator, Bong shared with The Hollywood Reporter why he felt like this was a film he needed to make.

"As an artist, I think that my job is to just tell stories; I'm a storyteller. A lot of filmmakers these days are talking about the times that we live in, like Us by Jordan Peele and Shoplifters by Hirokazu. It's very natural for us to talk about the rich and poor and these issues of class that surround us," he said. "I just decided to tell that story in a very unique and strange way."

The audience packed the Arclight's biggest theater in eager anticipation of the film — one of the buzziest of 2019 — and they were not disappointed. The tense story had viewers alternating between shock and amusement, while the powerful finale left them in a daze as they shuffled out of the theater.

Exploring issues of class conflict has been a recurring theme throughout Bong's work, and he told THR why the subject held such fascination for him.

"Whether its Korea, the U.S. or Europe, every country is going through polarization, where the gap between rich and poor is ever more widening. I just ask the question of why can't this ever get better? I think that this is an inevitable issue. I didn't intend to create a political film for some revolutionary purpose. I really pursue the beauty of cinema and the entertainment that cinema brings, but through that I wanted to deal with this heavy topic."

Bong is known for genre-hopping, having made many sci-fi, horror and thriller films. He explained to THR why he does not feel constrained to work in any particular genre.

"On the surface I have created sci-fi films and monster films, but to be honest, personally, I just feel like I've been doing what I've always been doing. During Cannes, one American reporter said that there is really no need to define the films of Bong Joon Ho. Bong Joon Ho himself is a genre."

The afterparty was held at the nearby Paley restaurant, where guests, including director Catherine Hardwicke, Lawrence Bender and Anne Heche, snacked on tater tots and sliders while awards-season chatter was thick in the air. Many guests said that the film would not only be nominated for the best international film Oscar, but that it should be considered for best picture as well.

Parasite is scheduled to go wide in the U.S. on Oct. 11.