By Don McIntosh
Unionism—and a film about class struggle—got some of the biggest applause at the 2020 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. The event, which aired Jan. 19 on TNT, is a chance for actors union members to honor the best in their profession, in both film and television.
This year, the union’s highest award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture went to the cast of Parasite, the runaway hit dark comedy that depicts a working class family that connives to escape dire poverty by getting jobs as servants for a rich family.
“It depicts a class struggle taking place, all under one roof, where some aren’t even aware a struggle exists,” said actor Park So Dam, speaking in Korean. Parasite was the first foreign-language film ever to win SAG-AFTRA’s top award.
SAG-AFTRA also presented a lifetime achievement award to actor Robert DeNiro.
“I thank SAG-AFTRA for tirelessly fighting on our behalf for workplace and economic gains and respect,” DeNiro said in his acceptance speech. “And that especially bears remembering these days when there’s so much hostility towards unions.”
In Portland, SAG-AFTRA members gathered at the Lake Theater in Lake Oswego to watch the show, and to honor Robert Blanche, former local president, who died Jan. 3. Blanche, who acted alongside DeNiro in the 2000 film Men of Honor, was among those acknowledged in the part of the Los Angeles award ceremony acknowledging SAG-AFTRA members who had died in the previous year. After the national event ended, officers of the Portland local presented Blanche’s widow Christine with a new annual service award named in Blanche’s honor.