Davy Chou • Regista di Return to Seoul

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– CANNES 2022: Abbiamo incontrato il regista franco-cambogiano, che ha realizzato an impressive lungometraggio e intimo sui temi dell’adozione e dell’identità

This article is available in English.

Director Davy Chou presented its new feature Return to Seoul [+leggi anche:
intervista: Davy Chou
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to walking sticks, in the Un Certain Regard section. This is his second feature film after Diamond Island [+leggi anche:
recensione
trailer
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but Chou is also extremely active as a producer: wearing this hat, he was present at Cannes last year with Onoda – 10,000 nights in the jungle [+leggi anche:
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intervista: Arthur Harari
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. We talked to her about her protagonist, played by an actress for the first time, her approach to South Korean culture, and her personal connection to the story.

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Cineuropa: Where does your interest in where does the subject come from? How did the idea for the film come about? arrive?
Davy Chou:
The idea was born from a personal experience that I had a little over ten years ago. I have a close friend who was born in South Korea, but lives in France. She shares the same story as the protagonist of my film. We traveled together in Korea. First, it was clear that we weren’t going to meet her Korean father, because she had a difficult relationship with him. But then, after a few days at the Busan Film Festival, she suddenly told me that she would meet him anyway and asked me if I wanted to join her. A few days later, we took the bus and found ourselves in front of his family, his father and his grandmother. I was speechless in the face of this situation, because I was very moved.

How did you find your protagonist and actors who play his family?
For the main protagonist, it was very hard. The actress had to access very dark places of anger and self-destruction, but also very joyful and charismatic places, as well as other more vulnerable ones. I discovered that in France, it’s not easy to find an actress of Korean origin. I finally found Emeline Briffaud, who is not an adoptee; she was born in Korea, but moved to France when she was eight years old. She has this talent that non-professional actors have, of not showing their ego too much. Together we discussed the dialogue and changed a lot of things.

I was very grateful to be able to work with great Korean actors, such as Lim Cheol Hyun, the father, who is a regular in the films of Park Chan-wook. He has immense sensitivity. And Kim Sun-young, who plays the aunt, is the most famous actor in our film. It was a luxury to be able to work with such actors. I mixed them with Europeans. It was very exciting to mix different backgrounds, languages ​​and acting styles. I think that’s really the core of the film to mix different cultures and identities, and to play with that – to show how hard it is sometimes to connect.

The search for his identity and his place in life is a recurring theme in your movies. OWould you say this is the driving force behind your wish for To doand movies?
I believe that subconsciously, even though it may seem obvious to others, my personal journey and my story have informed my way of seeing things and the films that I have decided to make. My parents left Cambodia in the 1970s, just before the Khmer Rouge regime. A large part of my family died under this regime, and the rest decided to live in France. So I was brought up with some ignorance about Cambodia, and it wasn’t until I was 25 that I decided to go there and learn more. Much like my character Freddie, I began to explore a past that I knew about, but didn’t know the specific details about.

Last year, you were present at Cannes, as a producer, with Onoda. Can you tell us more about your activity and your projects as a producer?
I have been producing since 2010; Since then, I have gradually become more and more involved in the Cambodian film industry. I have been in contact with Cambodian directors or aspiring directors who wanted to make films, but suffered from the lack of producers there. I felt they had so much to say, and so much talent, so I decided to get involved. It is certainly not easy to do both things, because they are two different energies which are sometimes contradictory. In six years, I produced about five or six short films, at the same time as I wrote my own film. My last two major productions, two feature films, are white building [+leggi anche:
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trailer
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]
presented last year in Venice, and Onoda, at Cannes. It was very stimulating. I take great pleasure in helping filmmakers realize their vision, while I truly admire their talent. But I think it also nourished me as a director, not only from a technical point of view, but also through the different life experiences and the different points of view.

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