As the 78th Venice festival got underway on a brilliantly clear late-summer morning on the Lido, the celebrated director of ‘Parasite’ was the main attraction, welcoming the international press and festival community with his signature erudition and good humor.
Celebrated South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho set an instantly positive and thoughtful tone Wednesday when he met the global press for the first time in his new role as president of the jury at the 78th Venice International Film Festival.
On a warm, brilliantly clear morning on the Lido, a packed house of film writers and festival attendees had ducked inside the Palazzo Del Casino to hear what the multi-Oscar-winning director of Parasite had to say. “Because of COVID in Korea and in the rest of the world, filmmakers had a very tough time last year and this year,” Bong stated. “But in a way, looking back, it feels like this was a test, and what it has shown is the life force of cinema.”
Bong was joined at the press conference by fellow members of his jury for the 78th edition of the festival. They sat socially distanced in the front rows of the crowd before him. “They all have their own creative universes and they’re all great in their own way, so I hope to bring them all together and have a kind of explosion with them,” Bong said.
Venice’s 78th jury includes Oscar best picture winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), French actress Virginie Efira (recently seen in Paul Verhoeven’s taboo-breaking Cannes-bowing Benedetta), Italian director Saverio Costanzo (Hungry Hearts), Canadian actress and producer Sarah Gadon (Enemy), Romanian documentary maker Alexander Nanau (Oscar-nominated this year for Collective) and British actress and singer-songwriter Cynthia Erivo (Widows, Harriet).
Zhao’s Nomadland won Venice’s Golden Lion last year on its way to winning three Oscars, but she was unable to attend the event due to restrictions related to the pandemic. Addressing the crowd around her, Zhao said that being back in Venice just a year later was particularly meaningful to her. “I was devastated I couldn’t be here last year,” the Chinese filmmaker said. “To come back — my first time in Italy — and especially to serve under director Bong and my wonderful fellow jury members, I’m just honored.