Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - French-Cambodian director takes top prize at film festival

French-Cambodian director takes top prize at film festival

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Poster for the film Return to Seoul. PHOTO SUPPLIED

French-Cambodian director takes top prize at film festival

The film Return to Seoul by French-Khmer filmmaker Chou Davy won the Golden Athena Best Film award at the 28th Athens International Film Festival in Greece. The award is the festival’s top honour, given out each year at the close of the event.

At the awards ceremony on October 8 in Athens, the festival jury praised Return to Seoul for its honest portrayal of a relationship between a mother and daughter, capturing the complexity of family relationships and what it means to be adopted into one culture and still feel connected to the culture of your birth.

Chou Davy is a Cambodian filmmaker born and raised in France. Return to Seoul was released in 2022 and is Davy’s third feature film following previous efforts Koh Pich and The Golden Sleep.

But unlike Koh Pich and The Golden Sleep – which were both films that were set in Cambodia and essentially about people living their lives in the Kingdom of the present day – the film Return to Seoul, as its title would indicate, was shot in South Korea and is a story about a Korean woman named Freddie who is left by her parents at an orphanage and then adopted and raised by a French family in France from an early age.

Then, at age 25 and curious about her roots, the French-Korean woman returns to Seoul for the first time and decides to find her biological parents and the events that proceed from that quest end up changing her outlook and her life completely.

“They say that while everything is fragile and momentary and that everything could stop existing in a second, mothers and children are still forever. Mothers and children, it’s the basis of the human experience, the basis of human existence. What will become out of those who are motherless? Those whose mothers refused to be their mothers? Refused to have them as children, and keep on refusing to meet them, to know them? How will they go on?” said the festival jury in its statement awarding Davy’s film their top prize this year.

“Like the movie itself says ‘everything at any moment could all just disappear with the slightest snap of your fingers’,” they added.

Chou Davy previously confirmed in interviews that he made the film based on the real life story of a friend of his who was adopted from South Korea by French parents and her friends took her to meet her Korean father in 2011.

The meeting didn’t go well and Davy said he felt that the understanding that adopted persons do not quite grasp until they are in that situation is that they do not really understand their birth culture because they have been adopted and raised in another culture their whole lives and it’s this disconnect between their adopted culture and birth culture that often causes such havoc for them when they return home seeking their roots.

Ten years after his friend’s difficult experience took place, at the end of 2021, Davy began shooting his film Return to Seoul in South Korea and Romania, with primary shooting lasting for six weeks.

Return to Seoul is now being shown at film festivals globally and will continue to be screened at festivals throughout 2022 and 2023, with Davy set to travel to as many of those events as possible in order to give a presentation on his film – and, as his many fans in Cambodia hope – to also win more “best in festival” awards.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,