At 92-Years-Old, Can the Academy Awards Still Learn New Tricks?

The Hollywood awards ceremony has slowly but surely began to welcome international films into the Academy Awards.

The 92nd annual Academy Awards are happening this Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

One of the biggest storylines in the past few years has been the rise of foreign films many with subtitles making waves in major categories like Best Picture.

This year, the international darling is the film “Parasite” helmed by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho.

“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” — Bong Joon-Ho, filmmaker

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

At the Golden Globes earlier this year, Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” made history by becoming the first Korean film to ever win best foreign-language film at the awards ceremony. 

During his acceptance speech, Joon-Ho appeared on stage with a translator to relate a simple message about foreign film in the U.S. market: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

It’s an idea that the Detroit Film Theatre has embraced over the past four decades.

“I’ve believed that forty-plus years at the Detroit Film Theatre, showing films from around the world and watching audiences respond to them,” says Detroit Film Theatre director Elliot Wilhelm.

As the Oscars have evolved, so have the movies that have won and Wilhelm hopes that trend continues in the future.

“In a way, I’m hoping that [the Best International Film] category goes away, and the Best Picture category simply includes more films from around the world,” says Wilhelm.

Click the player above to hear Detroit Film Theatre director Elliot Wilhelm talk about the evolution of the Oscars over the past 92 years.

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.