Approved for Adoption is the first non-Korean language film to screen at KOFFIA (the Korean Film Festival in Australia), being largely in French, but it’s most definitely a Korean story – 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.

I found Approved for Adoption compelling – the balance of animation and live action footage, the juxtaposition of the implied innocence of animation with the dark themes of racism and self-doubt, plus the mix of French and Korean language all tied together seamlessly to make a beautiful film and a touching story.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Running Time: 70 minutes (w/English Subtitles)

Approved for Adoption was originally reviewed at KOFFIA 2013.