Past Lives

Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are separated from each other when Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, Hae Sung resolves to visit Nora for a few days in New York where she lives with her American husband Arthur. Facing each other like the phantoms of a life unlived, they confront notions of destiny, love and the choices that constitute a life.
Making her cinematic debut here with Past Lives is New York based playwright Celine Song. But nothing about this intensely resonant meditation on the trajectory of life would mark her as a newcomer. Drawing from personal experience, Song is guided by a precise vision of the story’s conflicted emotional core. Thanks to this compass, she is able to draw a truth from every situation that is both visceral and universal and affects the audience in more ways than would the simple set-up of a love triangle. The questions explored by the filmmaker and her brilliant cast are broader: Does love shape our lives? What kinds of sacrifices are necessary to become the people we are? The echo triggered by these inquiries induces a real existential vertigo.
by Celine Song
with Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro
USA 2022 Korean, English 105’ Colour International premiere | Debut film


  • Greta Lee (Nora)
  • Teo Yoo (Hae Sung)
  • John Magaro (Arthur)


Director Celine Song
Screenplay Celine Song
Cinematography Shabier Kirchner
Editing Keith Fraase
Music Chris Bear, Daniel Rossen
Sound Design Dimitri Kouri
Production Design Grace Yun
Costumes Katina Danabassis
Make-Up Melanie Harris
Assistant Director Ben Kahn
Casting Ellen Chenoweth, Susanne Scheel
Production Manager Kerry Johnson
Producers David Hinojosa, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon

Produced by


Killer Films

Celine Song

The director made her name chiefly as a playwright. Her play “Endlings” had its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, USA in 2019 before moving to the New York Theatre Workshop in 2020. She has been a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and a semi-finalist for the American Playwriting Foundation’s Relentless Award. She has also worked as a screenwriter on the first season of the Amazon series The Wheel of Time.


2022 Past Lives

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023