Parasite by Bong Joon-ho wins Sydney Film Festival’s Official Competition Prize

Parasite by Bong Joon-ho, winner of the esteemed Palme d’Or at Cannes, has taken the Official Competition Prize at the Sydney Film Festival.

The South Korean director’s win comes as no surprise to audiences, given the wave of anticipation surrounding the release of the thriller. If we’re being really critical, it would be bold for the Sydney festival’s jury to deviate from the judgement of Cannes’ pantheon of film experts.


“A comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains”: Parasite by  Bong Joon-ho has taken home Sydney Film Festival’s Official Competition Prize.

That is not to undermine the formidable force of this year’s excellent judging panel, which included experts like John Manyard (founding director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand) , Ana Kokkinos (director of Blessed), Gaylene Preston (notable New Zealand filmmaker), Wagner Moura (Brazilian actor best known for playing Pablo Escobar in Narcos), and Rita Sarin (Indian filmmaker and artist).

Parasite details the story of a street-wise con artist family that attempts to infiltrate a wealthy and naive household. Sunday afternoon’s Australian premiere at the State Theatre had audience members laughing, speechless and terrified.

In a rare moment of luck, attendees of the screening had the opportunity to quiz the director in a post-viewing Q&A at the Hub in Town Hall. For anyone who’s seen the film, you would likely agree that hearing the director’s thoughts immediately after viewing was a necessary catharsis.

Joon-ho discussed the highs and lows surrounding previous films like Memories of Murder (2003)Mother (2009)Snowpiercer (2013), and Ojka (2017). He also helped audiences understand the aim behind his films, which often provide a social critique about class and material wealth.

He also explained the power of effective storytelling, favouring an approach of politely listening to a friend’s jokes over dinner and feeling the prickly thorns afterwards, as opposed to a more ineffective “straight-faced telling of facts”.

Parasite does the former, and does so exceptionally artfully. Jury President John Maynard describes it as “tender and brutal, beautiful and harsh, funny and tragic, and a masterwork in its exploration of class”.

While the Festival is now at a close, there will be reruns of popular films this week. Check out the festival line-up for any films you might have missed.