Private Project


When both the victim‘s mother and the murderer’s mother find out about the unknown sides of their sons, they have some tough decisions to make in this “We Media Era” and surveillance society. “What we see may be the facts, but not necessarily the truth.” It's a story inspired by multiple real life events.

  • Layla Zhuqing Ji
  • Layla Zhuqing Ji
  • Aron Koh
  • Layla Zhuqing Ji
    Front Cover, Rattlefly, Imaginapped
  • Nikki Tok
  • Ying Yang
  • Lu Huang
    Key Cast
    Blind Mountain盲山, Tui Na 推拿, Summer of Changsha六欲天, How to Describe a Cloud云的模样, G Saat G杀,
  • Remon Lim
    Key Cast
    913 The Returning
  • Xianjun Fu
    Key Cast
    The Blue Choker蓝色项圈
  • Kahoe Hon
    Key Cast
    "Gang Zi"
  • Wilson Hsu
    Key Cast
    The Paradise乐园
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Social Justice, Crime, LGBT, Teenager, Romance
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 47 minutes 12 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    420,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Layla Zhuqing Ji

Layla Zhuqing Ji. Female screenwriter/director, born and raised in Shenyang, China. She moved to the United States for education at the age of 18. She graduated from the Columbia University MFA Film program in 2014 and the Rowan University Radio/TV/Film Bachelor Program in 2011.

As a trilingual filmmaker (Chinese, English, Korean), Layla’s short films have been awarded and officially selected by numerous film festivals around the world. In 2015, Layla‘s feature film script Victim(s) received Best Young Director's Project Award from the China Film Foundation's Wutianming Film Fund and was selected to participate in Venice Days at the 72nd Venice Film Festival. In 2016, her other feature film script Six-Week Summer won the "Best Commercial Value Project" Award and "Motion Picture Association of America" Award at Beijing International Film Festival Film Market. In 2019, Layla finished her first feature film Victim(s) in Malaysia with the funding from Southeast Asia, targeting on sensitive topics of campus violence and cyberbullying in the Chinese communities. Layla currently travels between Los Angeles and China. She wants to share her voice with the world through filmmaking and deliver positive messages to the society. She is currently represented by CAA.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

“When I told everyone my son was the victim of 911, I got immediate sympathy. But when people know what her son was accused of, she didn’t get that sympathy. But the pain is the same.”
-The 911 victim’s mother and terrorist’s mother on Ted Talk

<Victim(s)> is a social justice film about a victim’s mother and a murderer’s mother who both search for truths after a horrifying high school murder. It portrays a surveillance society that is filled with campus violence, cyberbullying and the oppression of public opinion. It explores an education system influenced by violence and the competitive spirit inherent in our modern society.

In Asia, due to conservative cultures, it’s much more difficult to make a social justice film like this. In an atmosphere where scripts have to pass government review, most films like this are not given permission to be made. At one point I was convinced this film would never be produced.

It took more than five years, and a change of country, to get this film finally made in Malaysia. Our diverse team consists of artists from Malaysia, the United States, Mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea, and India. Our main cast members are Chinese-speaking actors from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Malaysia. They all made extra efforts to unify their accents. We purposely integrated background actors from different cultures, and added in diversity elements throughout the film, in order to reflect the universality of the film’s theme. It’s a metaphor that what we’re trying to discuss is not a problem in a particular culture or region, but rather a set of universal problems that all people need to face — campus violence, cyberbullying and the oppression of public opinion in the “We Media Era”.

This is my first feature film. Due to the controversial theme, I have mentally prepared myself for the fact that this film may not be able to be seen by audiences in many countries. While scouting locations, we were rejected by more than 70 schools in Kuala Lumpur alone. That was just a fraction of the difficulties we experienced throughout production. However, it was such an unforgettable and valuable experience for me personally. With the limited budget we had, many crew and cast sacrificed their personal interests and time. They are all honorable filmmakers who are proud to be part of a film with such a profound social message. They were loyal supporters of this film and stood by my side the whole time. That’s how we made the impossible possible.

There were many possible ways to tell this story. I have tried many different structures and angles in the writing process. The current storytelling structure is based on a series of layers: “surface — facts — deeper truths — consequences — reconciliation.” Peeled like an onion, each new layer provides revelations that change our understanding of the story and the characters.

From the start, we decided to use distancefrom the subject as a visual and emotional cue. In the first half of the film, audiences are kept at a distance from certain characters, in an attempt to mislead the audience. Simply speaking, in the first half of the film, we deliver a message to the audience, in the same manner we receive information in real life — one-sided and misleading. The film itself is a tool to tell a simple truth: “what we see might be the facts, but not necessarily the deeper truths.” As the story unfolds, truths are exposed, and we realize some conclusions were made too early, which may lead to dire consequences. This storytelling concept was implemented in every aspect of production, such as script structure, acting, cinematography, and coloring, etc.

Sometimes people ask me: “Why would you choose such a dark and depressing topic?” “Are you very angry about the current society?”

My answer is an emphatic, “No”. On the contrary, I decided to make this film out of love for this world. The topics presented here are uncomfortable for many, and I think that is the reason some people wish to shy away from confronting the issues presented in this film. It is easier for some to believe the story is too dramatic or unrealistic, and consequently, the problems presented in this film don’t really exist. Unfortunately, my research tells me the reality can be much darker than what is presented in the film.

I love our modern way of life, but I believe it can be better. Films are a way of communication. It is a media anyone can access, and I choose to use it to ask tough real-world questions in the hope that in a public forum we can search for answers together.

I remember what my wardrobe team director told me after she read the script: “I went back home to my daughter and asked ‘are you doing okay in school?’ I didn’t realize children have to confront so much more than I did years ago, especially with all the social media.”

I looked at her and smiled, “That’s exactly why we need to make this film.”

This film is a way for me to start a conversation about a taboo topic. The world is worth fighting for and I believe that through filmmaking we can have the important discussions we need to have,in order for us to build a better world for the next generation.