Cambodia International Film Festival

“Life. Love. Bliss.” Thrills Audience

Life Love. Bliss by Ines Sothea
Life Love. Bliss by Ines Sothea

“Life. Love. Bliss.” This is the title of the new short film by director Ines Sothea in the “Cambodia in Shorts” program at the Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF).  The 6-minute film left the audience eager for more during its premiere at CIFF on Thursday, highlighting Ines’ potential as a thriller director. Two voice actors are dubbing a scene for a movie, but there is more to it than meets the eye. 

Ines is drawn to stories about the potential changes in everyday life. “The loss, the injustice and fear, and the troubles of the people are my fuel for the stories,” Ines said. “I also tend to focus on films about young people who are going through a very challenging time as the world changes fast around us.” 

Since she won the top prize at the Tropfest South East Asia short film festival in Malaysia at the age of 24, Ines has earned a reputation as a filmmaker. Her other work includes TV series, web series and commercials, as well as training for young filmmakers, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts’ Department of Cinema & Cultural Diffusion. It was in 2016 that Ines launched her production company, Come Together Films (CTF), which trains and produces young talent.

Curious About Twins

LIFE. LOVE. BLISS. by Sothea Ines
by Sothea Ines

Ines says she made “Life.Love.Bliss.” specifically for a competition that required the film to be 5 minutes long and in one location only. “So we had to be creative to make a story that fitted those criteria and was also a good story,” Ines explained. “ I had always wondered what happens to people who fall in love with twins. Do they see the two are one person or can they separate the two clearly? That was the premise for the film.”

A script was crafted in two weeks, and filming was prepared in five days. In total, the shoot took one day and the post-production took five days. “All in all, it took a total of a month to make that film,” Ines added. 

Although “Life. Love. Bliss” is the latest film to be made by CTF, Ines was also a producer of another short film featured in the festival, called “Little Circus”.

Bittersweet Story

A Little Circus by Yoshiro Osaka
A Little Circus
by Yoshiro Osaka

“The Little Circus was a natural development from the work I did with Minor Act when we worked closely with the Phare Ponleu Selapak circus on several music videos and documentaries,” Ines said. “My Japanese friend, Yoshiro, who was the DP and Director on that project approached me for a short film and I was happy to produce it.”

In “The Little Circus,” circus members lose their jobs due to Covid. “It showcases the loss of their livelihood and passion for their art which keeps them together and their practice, even though there is no audience,” Ines said. “We cast real circus members to act in the film, which makes it look authentic. Yoshiro, the director and writer of the film, wrote the script and I assist a bit due to the cultural difference.” After a week-long acting workshop with the cast in Battambang, the film was shot in six days. The post-production lasted two months.  

Future Projects

As one of the few Cambodian women filmmakers, Ines hopes to inspire more women to work behind the camera as writers and producers. “I want to see more support for female filmmakers here, so that there is a balance in the storytelling – from both male and female viewpoints,” Ines stated. “Generally, we need a much stronger support system for up-and-coming filmmakers. This way it would encourage more women filmmakers to join the industry, who will come up with unique and unconventional stories.”

Ines is passionate about capturing the stories of Cambodia for the film industry. Having had success at international festivals with some of her films, she hopes to make the pathway for others in the future.

Written by Sotheavy Nou