New Asian Currents [TAIWAN, FRANCE]

The Falling Kite

- FRANCE, TAIWAN / 1999 / French, Chinese, Taiwanese / Color / Video / 42 min

Director, Script, Editing: Hsiao Mei-ling
Photography: Hsiao Mei-ling, Stephane Dehnin
Sound: Hsiao Chin-ming, Olivier Denesles
Production: Le Studio National des Arts Contemporains LE FRESNOY
Source: Hsiao Mei-ling
P.O. Box 5, Ruey-fang Town, Taipei TAIWAN
Phone: 886-2-2496-6272 Fax: 886-2-2496-7895
Email: tghsiao@hotmail.com

A rainy night, the camera looks into a room through the wet windowpane. A woman sits by a desk and writes. It’s the filmmaker, living in a dark and cold stone-paved town far from her homeland in Taiwan. The scene shifts to Keelung, in Taiwan. The brilliant green of the rice paddies and gently sloping white paths through the rolling hills hurt the eyes. The filmmaker’s grandparents worked in gold mines under the Japanese colonization and suffered great hardships. Her grandmother unravels her memories, leafing through photographs. Meanwhile, the French-speaking son of a Chinese man who arrived in France as a coal mine worker one century ago speaks about their life. The film captures the emotions of wanderers caught between nations and history. Dedicated to Robert Kramer, who was a visiting lecturer at the filmmaker’s school.

[Director’s Statement] Tourcoing is a former industrial city in the north of France. When I arrived there I needed to find a structure that could enable me to survive in the sad greyness of the North. This film is between fiction and reality. A dream inspires in me flows of images that correspond to each other beyond time and space : Mr Chang telling the story of his father as a Chinese miner carried to northern France during the first world war and my grandmother telling the story of her husband working as a miner in Taiwan during the Japanese occupation, images of industrial wasteland in this country north of France and deserted gold mines of Taiwan, my own experience as a voluntary exile and experiences of Korean and Taiwanese friends in France. Memories and melancholy construct an imaginary environment where characters, landscapes and histories picked up in different times and in different situations enter into dialogue and help me to find myself. But this search has something of the nature of the illusion of the looking glass. This construction of the world is made with temporal elements brought together with the aim of escaping from a frightening extension of space.

The window of the room where I write the scenario of the film is kept closed, reflecting my own image in the lens of the video camera, instead of being open to the outside world.

This film is not about History but its aim is to show feelings and memories of modest people whose destinies met a turning point because of History.


- Hsiao Mei-ling

Born in 1964 in Keelung, Taiwan. Graduated in Fine Arts from the National Institute of the Arts in 1989. After working for galleries and newspapers, decided in 1991 to go to France to learn about new technologies. Admitted to the National School of Fine Arts of Nancy in 1994, and received her National Superior Diploma in Art in 1998. In the same year, admitted to the Le Fresnoy National Studio of the Contemporary Arts, where she worked under the supervision of Robert Kramer. In 2001, chosen by the French Association for Artistic Action (AFAA) for a research program called Villa Medicis out of the walls in Indonesia. Her work turns towards contemporary art and documentary films. Now her life is shared between Paris, Taipei and Jakarta.

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