The Cloud Is Still There, directed by Malaysian filmmaker Mickey Lai Loke Yee, follows a young woman struggling with clashing religious beliefs as she prays for her dying grandfather
Xiao Le (played by Tan Cheong Bee), a Christian, faces a dilemma regarding her family's staunch Taoist rituals. Driven by a desire to save her grandfather's soul, she prays by his bedside in secret.
After her mother (played by Tang Ling) catches her in the act, she is devastated. They quarrel until the grandfather passes away. For Xiao Le, her attempt at saving her family may have just made things worse.
In an interview with SAYS, Lai - who is a Master of Fine Arts graduate from the MetFilm School of London - based The Cloud Is Still There on her own experiences
Lai shares that she grew up as the only Christian in her conservative Taoist family.
"I remembered I cried so badly during the script consultation with Tan Seng Kiat (director of Shuttle Life, 2017) right after I came back from the UK, as he was trying to help sharpen my script by questioning and digging for something really deep from my heart, in order to understand the story and those characters better."
"In a nutshell, I hope that The Cloud Is Still There will resonate with audiences' memories of dealing with the grief of their dearest, and that they could see the precious gift beyond the grave."
Lai believes that the eyes are an important aspect when delivering a performance
"I always believe that eyes are powerful and they don't know how to lie in film."
Lai thinks that actress Tan's eyes are "very powerful in delivering her character’s emotional state."
She said that the actors' performances were "so authentic and it exposed the pains that we as the audiences try to hide".
Lai had spent a long time looking for cast members, especially the role of the mother.
"When I was doing the casting after they did the audition for the role, I spent more time to chat with them, shared my ideas about the character on my mind, and listened to their feelings and feedback about the story and characters."
Knowing Lai's personal and religious beliefs are reflected in the film, we asked how her family reacted towards it
"I didn't show it to my family members at all, I am too afraid to do so."
A scene in the short film took place at her grandfather's temple in Perak. She had to figure out how to get her grandmother's permission to film inside the temple without giving away the plot.
Her family had been bugging her to show them The Cloud Is Still There, though she isn't sure if she will do so in the future.
"But I will do it once I am ready."
The Cloud Is Still There bagged several international awards and was selected for screening at multiple film festivals
These are the awards won so far:
- 2020 SeaShorts Film Festival: Best Performance Award (Tan Cheong
Bee & Tang Ling)
- Asian Cinematography AWARDS July 2020 - Best ASEAN Short Film & Best Student Short Film
These are the film festivals that the short film has been selected for:
- 2020 Busan International Film Festival
- 2020 Norwich Film Festival
- 14th National Film Festival for Talented Youth, Seattle