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Staff & contributors

In both documentaries and films, adoptees meeting their biological parents for the first time is an event often painted in a sweet light. Never mind the child’s mixed feelings about it or the tragic reality that caused the split in the first place—it’s a reunion between family members, so it must be unequivocally special. In Return to Seoul, director Davy Chou doesn’t just debunk that myth, he subverts it by making the adoptee, Freddie, as unapologetically complex and emotionally enigmatic as possible. She resists affection but wallows in loneliness. She craves reinvention but stays in the same place for years. She’s in constant motion while being absolutely stuck in life. In other words, she’s a realistic embodiment of a person struggling to find some semblance of home. Chou displays an intimate understanding of the foreign experience, and he couples it with captivating cinematography, a rousing soundtrack, and fantastic performances across the board to make a daring, inventive, and thoroughly exciting film. 

Genre: Drama

Actor: Guka Han, Heo Jin, Hur Jin, Kim Dong-seok, Kim Sun-young, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Oh Gwang-rok, Oh Kwang-rok, Yoann Zimmer

Director: Davy Chou

Rating: R

Transporting the Henry James novella to the nightclub, The Beast in the Jungle turns the Edwardian era story into a surreal, escapist drama spanning the last decades of the 20th century. As John and May wait for that all-important event, they lose the importance of everything else, like love, friendship, and family, all to the decadence they only acknowledge as patience. This concept paired with the visuals are interesting, especially since the film also makes the viewer wait with them, drawing out the existential frustration, the fear of a life not lived, and the self-absorption, but the film struggles with the historical events, haphazardly inserting tragedies like the AIDS epidemic for what seems to be no reason.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Anaïs Demoustier, Bachir Tlili, Béatrice Dalle, Mara Taquin, Martin Vischer, Tom Mercier

Director: Patric Chiha