Directed by Lai Weijie, Elizabeth Wijaya
Writing Credits: Lai Weijie, Elizabeth Wijaya
Country of production: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Production Company: 13 Little Pictures, E&W Film Productions
Estimated Running Time: 90 min
Looking for: Sales
Estimated release date: 2011
An intimate story set amidst the epic Angkor temples, “For I’ve Loved” is about love lost and love found. Marie-Faith, young hopeful and optimistic, has had a whirlwind romance with Harold, the older gentleman who has swept her off her feet with his charm and wit. Now married, they are on honeymoon in Cambodia. But things do not go as planned and the honeymoon ends in tragedy. Over the years, Marie-Faith returns alone to Cambodia to come to terms with what happened.
Marie-Faith goes to Cambodia in search of a romantic honeymoon but is confronted with the ambiguities of life and struggles with emotions and impulses beyond her understanding. “For I’ve Loved” is an intimate exploration of human consciousness, time and ways of remembering. After the death of her husband, Marie-Faith is haunted by an eclipsed memory—she cannot remember the event as it happened. Trapped in a Freudian cycle of mourning and repetition, she returns to Siem Reap to remember—so that she may forget. But she fails to achieve her desired catharsis. When she meets Song, who is drawn to her grief due to his own buried sorrow, light shines into her cloistered soul but guilt, fear and their vast differences makes them remain both soul mates and strangers. The landscape and architecture of Siem Reap and the Angkor temples are also characters in this film that explores contradiction on different levels. The town of Siem Reap, compact and yet filled with contradictory building styles and transient tourists, is a metaphor for the frazzled yet searching and hopeful minds of the characters. The splendor and illusion of the grand and cold Hotel de la Paix as a modern temple for privileged pilgrims gestures towards Resnais’ “Last Year in Marienbad” and also the Angkor temples. The time- weathered temples form the emotional core of the film and visually allude to the ancient human soul—battered yet magnificent before the dust of modernity. The visual style of the film will be poetic and allusive, as if experiencing someone else’s dream. Beauty on the screen is meant to reveal the ephemerality of beauty and the fear of emptiness beneath. References include the paintings of Degas, Richter and also Louis Le Brocquy. This film is also intended as a love note to Cambodia. While the trauma of its recent past needs to be remembered, showcasing the glory of its ancient history and landscape is also an affirmation of its future. Like Marie-Faith learns, Cambodia, especially with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, confronts a painful history rather than try to forget what is impossible to forget. However, the film avoids any explicit reference to politics. The world, in fact, is almost solipsistic as Marie-Faith’s epic emotional voyage colors the mood of the film.
Lai Weijie: Lai Weijie is one of the two Singaporeans in the pioneer Graduate Film Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia. He is currently on the Media Education Scheme scholarship from the Media Development Authority of Singapore. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with an Honours Degree in philosophy. “Euphemism”, his first short film, was selected for the 4th Asian Film Symposium, while “Last Stranger Under the Heavens”, which he co-wrote and directed, was selected for the 30th Asian American International Film Festival in New York. His first short film at Tisch, “Space of City Trees”, was in competition at the 2nd Cambofest in Cambodia and will be in competition at Kota 2023-Festival of Short Minimalist Films. He was the director of photography for the short film “Meet at Block 320”, which was runner-up for cinematography in the Singapore leg of the Kodak Asia Film School Competition 2008, and “Delilah, Before”, which premiered at the 2009 Palm Springs ShortFest and was in competition at the 5th Singapore Short Film Festival. He was also Singapore’s cinematography representative for the ASEAN-ROK Independent Cinema Project.
Filmography (short films):
Selected for the 4th Asian Film Symposium
- Last Stranger Under the Heavens
Selected for the 30th Asian American International Film Festival
- Space of City Trees
Selected for the 2nd Cambofest: Film and Music Festival of Cambodia Selected for Kota 2023-Festival of Short Minimalist Films
Elizabeth Wijaya is working towards her M.A. and is a recipient of the National University of Singapore Research Scholarship. She was awarded the competitive ASEAN Scholarship for undergraduate studies. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with First Class Honours in English Literature, receiving medals for best student in her major and coming in third in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She taught an undergraduate course in Film Art. She has also presented papers at international academic conferences such as “Writing in a Post-Derridean Era” in Sweden, “JD09” in England and “where ghosts live” in Ireland. She was the President of the National University of Singapore Literary Society. “Last Stranger Under the Heavens”, a short film she co-directed, was shown at the 30th Asian American International Film Festival.