WATCH: 2019 Cannes Film Festival winners

Cannes - Parasite, a black comedy about a family of clever scammers from South Korea's underclass, won the Palme d'Or top prize at Cannes on Saturday, the first time a Korean director has scooped the coveted award in the film festival's 72-year history.

Bong Joon-ho, 49, best known for daring arthouse hits including Okja and Snowpiercer, won for a satire which critics said powerfully tapped into the tensions caused by the widening gap between rich and poor around the world.

Accepting the prize from French movie legend Catherine Deneuve, Bong said winning at Cannes had been a lifelong dream.

"I was a little boy who was crazy about cinema since I was 12 years old," Bong said, hoisting the palm-frond statuette in the air

Parasite is the second Asian film in a row to triumph at the world's biggest film festival.

It tapped into similar themes explored by last year's winner, Shoplifters by Hirokazu Kore-eda about a family of small-time crooks, which shone a light on Japan's hidden poor.

Despite some of his strongest reviews in years, Quentin Tarantino failed to win anything for Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, which brought together two of Tinseltown's most dashing leading men, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, for the first time.

The first black woman to compete for Cannes' top prize, Mati Diop, was runner-up for Atlantics, a chilling ghost story about Senegalese migrants dying at sea.

Antonio Banderas got the best actor award for Pedro Almodovar's Pain and Glory, a loosely autobiographical picture based on the director's colourful life.

An emotional Banderas said it was the first major prize of his 40-year career.

"I respect him, I admire him, I love him, he's my mentor and he's given me so much," he said of Almodovar, who cast the actor in eight films and helped make him a global box office draw.

"This award has to be dedicated to him," he added.

Britain's Emily Beecham won best actress for Little Joe, a feminist sci-fi thriller by Austrian director Jessica Hausner about the mysterious powers of a bio-engineered plant.

The third-place jury prize was shared by the gritty French police drama Les Miserables and Brazil's Nighthawk, a darkly satirical Western seen as a searing indictment of life under the country's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Best screenplay went to France's Celine Sciamma, one of four women in competition, for Portrait of a Woman on Fire, a lushly subversive lesbian love story set in the 18th century.


READ NEXT: Scandal, a standing ovation and hot kiss - here are the best moments from this year's Cannes film festival