A hand-drawn animated feature from Belgium captured both of the major jury prizes at this year’s Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth.
Approved for Adoption received both the Youth Jury Award for Best Picture (ages 13 and up) and the Adult Jury Award for Best Picture as the 16th edition of the festival wrapped up at the Vancity Theatre on 10 April.
Jung Henin and Laurent Boileau’s sepia-tinged but jagged memoir tells Jung’s own story as a Korean orphan adopted into a Belgian family. The film has won numerous awards since its release in 2012, including last year’s Grand Prix at the Zagreb Animafest.
Approved for Adoption was screened at the 2013 KOFFIA (the Korean Film Festival in Australia).
It is an animated autobiographical recount chronicling of the life of cartoonist and co-director Jung, a Korean boy separated from his parents by the Korean war and adopted by a Belgian family.
As he struggles to find himself between his Korean heritage and Belgian upbringing, Jung finds solace in drawing.
Don’t let the fact that this film is animated mislead you – it is not aimed at children. While at times Approved for Adoption is certainly funny, it is also heartbreaking, dealing with the darker side of being adopted into a different culture during times of war. Jung (voiced by William Coryn) narrates his story with brutal honesty, humour and a huge amount of heart.
The film is not completely animated – it is also cut with grainy historical footage, jerky home movies from Jung’s childhood and documentary-style footage of his return to Seoul as an adult. It also makes use of two very different animation styles – the soft, rounded lines and muted watercolour tones of a typical French animation, and the darker, sharper sequences that look markedly more Asian, representing Jung’s dreams, nightmares and visions.