The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
Cyril Zannettacci—AGENCE VU/Redux
By Tilda Swinton
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

There is a word in Korean, ahjussi, which refers to an average older man. In some family photographs of a certain era, you can see that the Korean father—ahjussi—has parked one foot on a curb, a hand on his hip, and taken his gaze insouciantly off into the distance: staunch, detached and, at the same time, somehow heroic. Bong Joon Ho and I have always found what we call the “ahjussi pose” unbelievably funny, the way this attitude of the casual born out of undeniable shyness renders every participant looking like nothing more than the model for a vintage knitting pattern. Over the past decade, including—unforgettably—on the great steps of the Grand Palais at Cannes, we have recorded countless ahjussi poses. On newsstands in January, Director Bong struck a magnificent specimen of the form on the cover of Vanity Fair, wedged against a prop chair, looking otherwise engaged.

This is the filmmaker who, this year, has risen into the 2020 vision of the entire cine­passionate planet like a new sun. Whip-smart, highly skilled, supremely cine­literate, exuberant, irreverent, self-determining, deeply romantic, with a voracious delight in the absurd, highly principled, precision-tuned, compassionate to the last: his films have always been all this. It just seems to be time for the world to catch up.

He is the ultimate sophisticate cinematic fanboy whilst harboring not a drop of either snobbery or cynicism: he is good for cinema from start to finish. And the person? Sweet-hearted, loyal, amused, cozy, playful, sincere, especially hilarious when in his cups, fiercely familial, gloriously silly, unfailingly kind. Diamond.

Swinton is an Academy Award-winning actor

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