Parallel World

TAIWAN / 2022 / Chinese, Taiwanese, French / Color / DCP / 177 min

- Director, Script, Narration: Hsiao Mei-ling
Photography: Hsiao Mei-ling, Lin Hsien-chun, Liu Yi-chen, Liu Ya-wen
Editing: Hsiao Mei-ling, Tsau Yu-wei, Jiang Jin-song, Huang Wo-ju
Sound: Huang Wo-ju
Sound Design: Hung Danny
Music: Christopher Galovan, Ardie Son, Kevin MacLeod, ©Clipounets, éditions AKCS
Animation: Huang Ying-xuan, Hong Xiang-ting, Huang Yun-ting
Source, World Sales: Hsiao Mei-ling

A mother’s twelve years with her daughter Elodie, who has Asperger’s syndrome. The film embraces the raw emotions that suddenly and ceaselessly spill over, gazing at her creative energy and her steps towards independence. She may have cried out that she wants to stay with her mother forever and never grow up, and yet she pursues independence, journeying to France, where her father lives. The mother livestreams Taiwan’s festivals and scenery to her with her smartphone. She alternates and weaves this together with the extensive footage she has shot of her daughter. We see her back as she faces the editing monitor, glancing again and again at the small back of her growing daughter. The mother and daughter are bonded—sometimes patiently leaning toward each other, sometimes separated, but nevertheless united. (OM)

[Director’s Statement] I became a mother when Elodie was born, and this new identity prompted me to contemplate culture, identity, and national boundaries. This film is a result of the contemplations. As Elodie grew up, once again, I began to examine how an individual connects with the outside world.

Elodie was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She has dysgraphia but has a talent for drawing. As a mother, I want to equip my child with the skill sets required for her to survive in the society, yet at the same time, I wonder what makes us human; wonder if I can truly understand my child’s inner needs. I see how one’s creativity is undermined little by little when she is pushed by the society to fit into a standard mold. But what is a normal person anyway? Isn’t normality just an averaged-out result of a lot of random people?

At the age of fifteen Elodie went to her father’s country to begin a new phase of her life. I became a “Zoom Mom”: The videos recorded during the past ten years have been a source of reflection on our lives. For more than 10 years, I had to freeze my emotions to continue walking the tightrope as a special child’s mother, and translating all these complex feelings into a documentary proved to be my outlet.

All special children are gifts from God. These words, pictures, and videos are my self-therapy and what I would like to share with the world. Let them become the most profound love and blessing for my child.

- Hsiao Mei-ling

Born in Taiwan, she studied at Le Fresnoy, National Studio for Contemporary Arts, where she worked under the supervision of Robert Kramer. She is a contemporary artist and a documentary filmmaker. Her previous films include The Falling Kite (1999, YIDFF 2001) and Somewhere over the Cloud (2007, YIDFF 2007 NAC Special Mention). In 2022, this film was shown in the International Competition at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Arts and Design at the National Taipei University of Education, Taiwan.