Oscars’ inclusivity a welcome change but unsure if it’s permanent

Published On April 6, 2020 | By Sewon Hwang | Arts
Bong Joon Ho poses with the Oscars for “Parasite” at the Governors Ball following the 92nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)
Sewon Hwang

Canadian film maker Aram Siu Wai Collier decided not to tune in as Hollywood hosted the Academy Awards on Feb 9, celebrating the most popular films of the year.

“It’s kind of like a dog and pony show I have to say,” he said.

Though it is a great achievement, Collier says the value of the nominations and awards have changed.

“It does celebrate excellent films for sure, but a lot of how films are nominated is so much about promotion, PR, and campaigning,” he said. “It has a lot of resources behind it. So a lot of great films don’t end up even sniffing the nomination.”

Collier is also the head of programming at the Reel Asian Film Festival in Toronto.

For the first time in the awards’ history, Parasite, a foreign language film was awarded Best Picture.

Parasite, directed by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, was also awarded best director, best original screenplay, best international feature film at the Oscars, to go along with other accolades such as the Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival.

The win sparked a social media outpour, praising the movie’s successes on the U.S. awards.

Though Collier said he thinks the win is significant for Asian North Americans, as he considers this a step of change and acceptance in the industry.

“It’s amazing that a film from Korea won Best Picture, Best Director, and whatnot, but I don’t think it affects somebody’s career in any real tangible way,” he said.

Films such as Farewell (2019) and Crazy Rich Asians (2018) are more effective in attempting to change the Asian-North American filmmaking scene, Collier said.

“A lot of people in the community saw them, a lot of people outside of the community saw them,” he said.

Although Asian films are getting more attention in festivals over the years, festival fame does not translate to distribution, Collier said.

Films such as Joy Luck Club (1993) hinted at changes being made in Hollywood, but eventually the progress that was spoken about fizzled out, he said.

But until then, Collier said although he is cautiously optimistic about Parasite’s slew of awards, he will believe it when he sees the changes in the industry.

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