A Waking

Xuan, a 16 year old girl, finds herself on an uneventful bus tour in a foreign land. Wandering through the sleepless town in the middle of the night, she meets the tour guide and bus driver at a skewer stall where the two men take turns making advances on her.

Xuan gives in to the pursuit of adventure, and unknowingly enters a world that is at once terrifying and exciting. She finds herself ensnared in the hands of desire, trapped in restless dreams and dazed fantasies.

  • Clare Chong
  • Clare Chong
  • Natasha Soh
  • Yi Xuan Ong
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Drama, Experimental
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 14, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    11,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Lasalle College of the Arts
  • Locarno Filmmakers Academy '23
  • Singapore Shorts ’19
  • Etiuda & Anima '19
  • Chaktomuk Short Film Festival '19
    Phnom Penh
  • 6th Goa Short Film Festival 2019
  • TIFA Working Studios ‘Futures of Sexuality'
Director Biography - Clare Chong

Clare Chong works with undertones of the mundane. She is concerned with issues prevalent in ordinary life; the wink of an eye, the slight curl of the lips, a twitch in the ears. Her subjects are quiet outcasts of society we don’t pay attention to, and her works challenge means of gazing and observing - To what extent do we impose our preconceived notions, judgements, and opinions onto an image?

Chong completed her International Baccalaureate Diploma at SOTA School of the Arts and her Bachelor’s Degree in Film at Lasalle College of the Art. She works as a film director with works ranging across short films, music videos, documentaries, commercials, experimental films, video art, projection mapping, and installation pieces. She was recently a participant of the Locarno Filmmakers Academy 2023, where she presented her short film A Waking.

Chong’s works have been showcased at various film festivals, art galleries, events, and talks, but all these are secondary to her wish of making her works accessible to anyone, anywhere. She believes that every film must be created in celebration of a space, of a period in time, and of someone.

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Director Statement

My main character's inspired by my own experience growing up in an all female household. Since young, my father has been an absent figure as he works overseas to support our family. There is a conflict I have within myself, one that sees a lack of a father figure, but one that admires my father for being able to stand the years of solitude overseas, working in harsh conditions in third world countries in order to earn money for me to have a better life.

Often times I find myself yearning for a father figure, an older man who can guide me and teach me, and to provide me with a warmth I do not find with my mother and sister. This is a yearning I have had for years.

When I reached the age of fourteen, I started to see the world a little differently, that perhaps this yearning is not just for warmth and comfort, but a sexual energy I never knew existed. I shied away from this idea for fear that I would sexualise whatever yearning I had for my father, but some how these fears have manifested in my relationship with other men. Self introspection has showed me that I leaned towards older men, more secure figures just like my father, Oedipal complex if you must.

At the age of sixteen, I travelled to China with my mother and sister, and realised that I became an object of attraction, lust, and a prize at the end of the journey for the bus driver and tour guide. I often feel their gaze, their occasional brush against me and sly smiles, not that my mother and sister ever noticed.

Perhaps it was because I was in a foreign land, I knew no fear. I wanted to see what men were made of, metaphorically and literally. I didn’t want to be a victim to their male gazes, and tried to turn the tables instead, subjecting them to my own gaze, defiantly. On hindsight it was a very childish thing to do, one that caused me years of trauma which I have never spoken about, but it has also made me realise just how deeply a single experience affected my perception of men, my intimate and emotional relationships, and my relationship with my father.

Men became monsters, people I feared, people I distrusted because I have a perception that one will betray and cheat at any moment. I formed in my mind an image of my father cheating for years when he was away, and I took a vow to never let men use me, but for me to use them instead. All in an act of self defence. I cheat instead of being cheated on, I was promiscuous because I wanted to do better than men, and I pretended I didn’t care even though it turned me rotten inside.

This film is a can of worms I daren’t open for seven years, for fear of what it might change in me. Taking on this film to relive my memories and to confront my deep seated fears and opinions on men and my relationship to them has been a mammoth task, but it has given me some hope that perhaps it is time to move on, perhaps I have been numb for too long.