Wichitans were some of the first taken by ‘Parasite’ before major Oscar wins

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The South Korean dark comedy “Parasite” has received groundbreaking critical reception stateside, not only from fans of the niche genre of film but from major mainstream critics, including the Academy Awards.

The 2020 Oscar winner for best director, original screenplay, film, and more, written and directed by Bong Joon-ho, made its way to Wichita for a screening at the 2019 Tallgrass Film Festival back in October. This festival was one of the very few domestic screenings for the South Korean produced film.

Tallgrass Film Association Director of Programming, Nick Pope, says he thought it was a good film but was overwhelmed by the reception at the festival.

“We knew it would do well but didn’t really expect it win all the awards that it’s won,” said Pope. “I’ve been doing this a long time and to sort of have that type of movie that’s timely, and a little political, and from another country just resonate here in Wichita, was really satisfying from a programming standpoint.”

The films’ premise follows the members of a low-income family who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating their household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

Pope, who has been involved with Tallgrass Film Association since its inception in 2003, and programming with Tallgrass Film Festival for 17 years, tells KSN, that though the festival doesn’t shy away from foreign language films and subtitles, the reception this film received was a bit of s surprise for him.

Many who made their Oscar predictions expected “Parasite” to do well, but thought because it is a subtitled foreign language film, that would hinder mass reception by U.S. audiences. However, Pope says he sees that viewpoint changing and the sweeping Oscars win may reinforce his own assumptions.

“Movies aren’t only made in America, and movies aren’t only made in English. Probably a quarter of the submissions we get every year come from literally all over the world,” Pope stated.

After winning the Palme d’ or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Parasite went on to top critic’s list across the globe, making appearances on over 240 critics’ year-end top-ten lists, a 9.36 out of 10 by Rotten Tomatoes, and given 96 out of 100 on Metacritic.

“Very rarely when a movie has that much buzz is it really that good, usually. But we saw the film and it just exceeded expectations,” Pope added.

During Tallgrass Film Festival, there was so much critical buzz and overwhelming response from the Wichita audience, a second showing was added to the film festival.

At the time, Parasite had sold-out showings in New York and Los Angeles. But for those fortunate enough to attend the 2019 Tallgrass Film Festival, the film was there for their taking, and viewers gravitated to the pull of this critically buzzworthy film.

Pope and the staff at Tallgrass Film Festival say they’re excited about the success the film has gained, and more excited that many in Wichita associate their first viewing of the movie with this local film festival and organization.

“It feels good to be sort of ahead of the curve on some of that kind of stuff,” Pope says, “It really makes it worth it.”

Tallgrass Film Association and Mama Film will be working together to show more hits from the Bong Joon-ho catalog with their upcoming film series Bong Hits: A Tribute to Parasite’s Bong Joon-ho. The series is expected to show films like ‘Barking Dogs Never Bite,’ ‘Mother,’ and the first in the film series, ‘The Host.’

A conversation with Nick Pope will follow the screening. Due to limited capacity, advanced purchase recommended. Tickets can be purchased here.

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