Hurting Taiwan & rejoicing for Korea

February 12, 2020

The phenomenal success of “Parasite” which won four Oscars, including the much-coveted Best Picture, is truly spectacular as it shattered the glass ceiling and paved the way for foreign movies to shine on a global stage.

For 92 years, ever since the Academy Awards started in 1929, the premier film award-giving body aimed at “advancing the arts and sciences of motion pictures” has been seen as “obsessed with English-language films made by white people” until the movie Parasite – shot in South Korea and without any international cast members – came along.

Such perceived obsession for English-language movies to always garner top awards seemed unbreakable that it was more difficult “for a Korean person to win an Oscar with a Korean-language film than be awarded a Nobel prize for literature,” according to South Korea’s major newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

With Hollywood movies dominating the film industry worldwide, analysts lament that foreign films, particularly those made by Asians, have encountered rough sailing in achieving the level of recognition and prestige an Academy Award (popularly known as Oscar) usually brings.

While the US-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences earlier recognized great Asian filmmakers like Taiwan’s Ang Lee – who was nominated for nine Oscars, of which he won three: Best Director for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi” and Best Foreign Language Film for “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” – no Asian film previously got the highly-prestigious Best Picture award.

Even representation of Asians in Hollywood films remains sporadic despite the success of dramatic movie “The Joy Luck Club” way back in 1993 and the more recent romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018 which featured a majority cast of Asian descent in a modern setting.

Thus, the success of South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s black comedy and satirical thriller Parasite – which not only won best picture at the Oscars, but also for best director, best original screenplay, and best international feature – is historic. And it does wonders to the credibility of the Oscars.

But Parasite’s triumph is not only for South Koreans ecstatic over the first-ever non-English-language film to make history at the Oscars. All other Asians ought to savor the historic win as well. A new era for Asian films has started and more filmmakers in this part of the world have the potential to reap success.

While some see the Oscars win for Parasite as a “fantastic anomaly” amid Hollywood’s reputed notoriety in “not allowing foreign films to enter its own turf,” I see it as a game-changer especially if the Academy values its credibility. And more non-English-language filmmakers, especially our Filipino highly-creative icons, who continue striving for excellence ought to be given the recognition they deserve.

TAIWAN TRAVEL BAN IS WRONG

The travel ban that included Taiwan and suddenly imposed by the Philippines amid threats of the new coronavirus seemingly resulted from statements made in a press conference by Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo who said there was “confusion” among members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“If you look at the WHO map and the number of cases that they have, Taiwan is included in China,” Domingo said. “So, since we have a temporary travel restriction and ban on China, then Taiwan is included.”

But many who empathize with the plight of stranded OFWs and tourists hurt by the ban are aghast over Domingo’s pronouncement. It’s either he himself is confused or is grossly ignorant of Taiwan's status as a sovereign and independent state.

Stressing Taiwan’s sovereignty, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (TECO) said “it is a factual error for the World Health Organization (WHO) to regard Taiwan as a part of PRC” and our country “should not be misled” by the WHO wrong information on Taiwan.

“Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, part of the PRC,” TECO emphasized. “Taiwan has taken all measures needed to contain the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”

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POST-SCRIPT: Happy 90th birthday to a dear friend, Atty. Antonio Resurreccion. May you continue to experience love, joy and tranquility in your sunset years!

Email: insights.xlr8@yahoo.com