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Siem Reap-based art movie inspired by travels

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Hotel de la Paix, which is shortly to close its doors and re-emerge next year as a Park Hyatt hotel, has been immortalised in a Singapore-made art film, I Have Loved, directed and written by Elizabeth Wijaya and Lai Weijie.

The film, produced by 13 Little Pictures in Singapore, was shot entirely on location in Siem Reap and many local landmarks are included, including Hotel de la Paix, and of course the temples are given a starring role.

According to the director's statement, the film features, “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.”

Not sure exactly what that means, but hey it sounds good.

As for Siem Reap itself, the director’s statement says, “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 director’s statement also says, “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.”

According to the directors; the film’s plot is: “Marie 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.

“I Have Loved is an intimate exploration of human consciousness, time and ways of remembering. After the death of her husband, Marie is haunted by an eclipsed memory – she cannot remember a key traumatic 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.”

Director Elizabeth Wijaya told the Sinema website about the inspiration for the movie.

She said, “The idea came about from a trip we took in 2008. We went from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville,
Kampot, Kep, Bokor Hill and back to Siem Reap. We decided to set the feature in Siem Reap as we were interested in the paradoxes and dynamics of the interaction between the town and the millennial-old Angkor temples.”

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