Somewhere over the Cloud
TAIWAN / 2007 / Chinese, French / Color / Video / 102 min
Director, Photography, Editing, Producer: Hsiao Mei-ling
Initial Editing: Huang Wei-ling
Music: Huang Hai-ming
Assistant: Wang Yan-jhen
Source: Hsiao Mei-ling
For the director’s daughter Elodie, “daddy” is a virtual person with whom she interacts via webcam. As a mother and artist, the director takes the camera in an attempt to capture the tangled relationship that the two try to establish within the small world of a screen that has no boundaries and transcends time. From a state of innocence, in moving between Taiwan and France, experiencing the death of her beloved grandmother, and developing feelings toward the politically chaotic Taiwan, Elodie’s perception of “daddy” changes as she grows older. Weaving into this story of her daughter a letter to her mentor, the late Robert Kramer, the director portrays her undying love for her daughter and for her work, and depicts a family with a free-floating association with life and distance, identity, and nationality.
[Director’s Statement] The Internet is like a cloud without physicality, ceaselessly expanding and contracting. One minute or one hour can become an eternity.
Though Robert Kramer has left this world, to me, his e-mail address is forever the spiritual space of his existence. In Le Fresnoy, he guided me in the way of making documentaries. I maintained with him a relation beyond the clouds, further than death, further than the network.
In my preceding work The Falling Kite, the kite, whose line was broken, evoked separation and the nostalgia of the exiled person. The mixed origin of my daughter, Elodie, makes me tackle the question of identity on the cultural, national, and political level.
The Internet is a space of freedom, personal and public at the same time . . . real and virtual at the same time . . . immediate and foreign at the same time . . . it spans the past, the present, and the future . . . But can the Internet establish a new kind of family bond? Can a virtual love exist? Can the people of the 21st century no longer feel restrained by the borders of nations and identities? Can the technology of the 21st century put an end to the nostalgia of the exiled? By transforming myself as a mother into a passive camera, I ask these questions and wait for the answers.
Hsiao Mei-ling was born in Keelung, Taiwan, in 1964. In 1989 she graduated in fine arts from the Taipei National University of the Arts, after which she headed to France. She entered the National School of Fine Arts of Nancy in 1994, and received her National Superior Diploma in Art in 1998. In the same year she was admitted to Le Fresnoy National Studio of the Contemporary Arts, where she worked under the supervision of Robert Kramer.
Her work subsequently turned toward contemporary art and documentary films. Her earlier film The Falling Kite was screened at YIDFF 2001, and she has also had work exhibited at Cinéma du Réel in Paris; in Lussas, France; in Leipzig, Germany; and at Bandits-Mages in France, as well as many other multimedia art festivals. In 2004, Hsiao received grants from the National Culture and Arts Foundation in Taiwan to film Somewhere over the Cloud. She currently teaches in the Department of the Arts at the National Taipei University of Education. She splits her time between Paris and Taipei, where she continues to work on contemporary art and documentary films.