up in a small country divided between French and Flemish speakers in the shadow
of the ever arrogant France must make developing a Belgian identity tricky
under any circumstances. For a Korean
adoptee like Jung, the coming-of-age process is profoundly more complicated. Jung (as the artist simply bills himself)
adapts his own graphic novel-memoir, incorporating footage of his emotionally
ambiguous return to Korea in Approved for
multi-hyphenated animated genre-hybrid, which screens during the 2013 New York International Children’s Film Festival.
never knew his birth parents. He was
discovered by a policeman on the streets of Seoul, presumably abandoned. It was a common fate for children after the
Korean War. Through the Holt
international adoption agency, Jung is placed with a Belgian family. As he matures, Jung mostly gets along with
his four Belgian brothers and sisters, especially his sister and closest
confidant, Coralie. However, his
relationship with is mother is a different story. Frankly, most children would have issues with
his severe mother, but his are exacerbated by behavioral problems at school and
lingering doubts about his place in the family.
Jung is a very humane and forgiving film, it is probably the most mature
selection of this year’s NYICFF. There
is even brief animated nudity (breasts clearly discernible beyond mere anime fan
service). It also forthrightly addresses
Jung’s family drama and eventual tragedy, which might be troubling for younger
viewers. Yet, for adoptee children, it
could be quite consoling—even cathartic.
Approved is visually elegant,
rendering its expressive characters in 3D animation, against 2D backdrops, with
Jung’s original sketches and Korean video integrated throughout. Young Jung often tries viewer patience as
much as his parents’ but at least we can understand where it is coming
from. Indeed, it is easy to understand
how art has served as therapy for him.
To his credit, Jung is unflaggingly honest,
never dodging significant episodes that might cast him in an unsympathetic
light. The results are revealing and
sometimes beautiful. Recommended for
fully informed families who think their children will find it rewarding, Approved for Adoption screens this
Sunday (3/10) at the Alliance Française as part of the 2013 NYICFF.
Labels: Animated films, Belgian Cinema, NYICFF '13