Audiences in New York and Los Angeles will soon be able to experience Bong Joon Ho’s Best Picture Oscar nominee “Parasite” in black-and-white. This special presentation of the South Korean film, which is up for six Academy Awards, will first debut at the International Film Festival Rotterdam at the end of January. Stateside screenings will then follow, courtesy of distributor Neon, beginning in New York, presented by Film at Lincoln Center at the Walter Reade Theater on January 30, and subsequently January 31 through February 6 at the Francesca Beale Theater. In Los Angeles, this alternate version of the history-making thriller — the first South Korean film to compete at the Oscars — will be presented at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre on Friday, January 31.
“I’m extremely happy to present ‘Parasite’ in black and white and have it play on the big screen,” Bong said in a statement. “It will be fascinating to see how the viewing experience changes when an identical film is presented in black and white. I watched the black-and-white version twice now, and at times the film felt more like a fable and gave me the strange sense that I was watching a story from old times. The second time I watched it, the film felt more realistic and sharp as if I was being cut by a blade. It also further highlighted the actors’ performances and seemed to revolve more around the characters. I had many fleeting impressions of this new version, but I do not wish to define them before it is presented.”
Bong has always wanted to make a film in the black-and-white format. Bong previously experimented with the medium back in 2013, when he presented a black-and-white reimagining of his 2009 drama “Mother” at the Mar Del Plata International Film Festival.
Poised to take home the Best International Feature Oscar on February 9, in addition to other possible wins following the film’s unexpected SAG Ensemble win last weekend, “Parasite” has also led myriad best-of-the-year lists from critics, including those on IndieWire’s staff. The film has so far grossed more than $143 million worldwide. It’s not only the first South Korean movie nominated for Best International Feature and for Best Picture; Bong is the first South Korean filmmaker nominated for Best Director. Additional Oscar nominations for “Parasite” include Best Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Original Screenplay.
Bong isn’t the first director to re-filter one of his films in black-and-white, as director George Miller previously did so with his action epic “Mad Max: Fury Road.” In 2017, director James Mangold released “Logan Noir,” his black-and-white version of the superhero film starring Hugh Jackman. The home-video release of Frank Darabont’s Stephen King adaptation “The Mist” also received a black-and-white update.