French-Cambodian director Davy Chou’s film ‘Return to Seoul’ has been shortlisted in the International Feature Film category at the prestigious 95th Oscars.
Chou’s film beat off fierce competition from entries worldwide to make it to the shortlist of 15, which was announced on December 21. The final five nominees will be announced on January 24 and if ‘Return to Seoul’ makes the final cut, Chou will head to Hollywood for the glittering awards ceremony on March 12.
“I feel this is a huge honour and pride. Honestly, when you make a film, you don’t think of all this. It feels too big; out of reach,” Chou told Kiripost. “I was just thinking of making the best film possible, which is already hard. So, to have the film get such recognition feels a bit surreal and overwhelming.”
‘Return to Seoul’, which Chou wrote and directed, follows the journey of 25-year-old French-Korean adoptee, Frederique Benoit, as she lands in Korea, where she was born but has never lived since. She decides to track down her biological parents but her journey takes a surprise turn.
“It's a big symbol for us because we're objectively still a small film industry. In the case of ‘Return to Seoul’, it's a coproduction between several countries, including France, Germany, Belgium, South Korea and Cambodia. But for the film to represent Cambodia is so meaningful for me as I’ve been working here, directing and producing films for a while now,” Chou added.
The film premiered at May's 2022 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section. It stars slated newcomer Park Ji-min and has already received rave reviews, picking up awards at several film festivals, including the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the Belfast Film Festival and the Athens International Film Festival.
“The only Cambodian film that has been nominated is Rithy Panh's ‘The Missing Picture’, which is an amazing and important film. I feel very humbled that ‘Return to Seoul’ is now bringing Cambodia back into the discussion.
“May it help encourage Cambodian filmmakers to believe it's possible,” said Chou, who plans to celebrate tonight with his sound designer, Vincent Villa, who he has been working with since 2010, when he shot ‘Golden Slumber’ in Cambodia. “It’s been a long journey together, so I think we will find a nice way to celebrate this.”
If Chou’s film makes the finals, it will be the second time Cambodia has been represented on the international stage. In 2013, Rithy Pahn’s ‘The Missing Picture’ – a documentary that uses clay figures, archive footage and narration to portray life growing up under the Khmer Rouge – made the final nomination list for Best Foreign Language Film but failed to bring home a gong.