In Barbara Wong’s Don’t Forget I Love You, life is a beautiful gift to be cherished and spent with people who love you unconditionally.
With a similar theme of memory loss to her famed 2013 work, The Stolen Years, the Hong Kong director's return to the big screen, is a captivating take on classic romance, which follows the life of a young girl called Xing Yue (Gulnazar), who falls in love with Lu Yao (Jasper Liu), a musician with anterograde amnesia—a condition in which a person is unable to create new memories and recall the recent past.
The film progresses into many layers of the relationship between the two, including happy moments and pain that the couple experiences, along with things that they learnt about themselves, growing as individuals. While stories of lost love and memories aren't anything new, the way that the movie draws the audience into the minds of the characters makes it stand out in the genre.
“My new movie is more than just a moving love story that offers soul-wrenching scenes for a good cry," Wong says. "It's also a timely reflection on the most important lesson we learnt from the pandemic: live in the moment."
Tatler caught up with the Hong Kong director to talk about the inspiration behind Don’t Forget I Love You, the unforgettable filming process and her personal growth as both a person and a filmmaker, along with her thoughts on female representation in the film industry.
Read more: 11 Hong Kong Film Directors You Should Know
How did you get started in the filmmaking industry?
I never dreamt of becoming a movie director. It wasn’t until I graduated from The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, that I began to have an inkling of what I wanted to pursue aside from acting. There had been quite a few major TV stations and theatres approached me, but I felt like my physical appearance didn’t meet the conventional acting industry standards of “good” height or looks at all. I didn’t want my passion and talents to be wasted in small roles, so, eventually, I thought of directing as well.
When I was studying films in New York, I didn’t have any ambitious goals in mind as many other aspiring directors did. I only focused on making connections, interacting with talents and learning filmmaking techniques. It was a very rewarding experience overall and that’s when I decided to begin my career in the field.
What was the reason for making memory loss the main theme of Don’t Forget I Love You?
The movie plot was in part inspired by my own experiences caring for my father who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and I wanted to tell people an important message: live in the moment and let go of things you can’t control. One of the main reasons why people are feeling trapped in life is because they can’t let go of the past and don’t appreciate the present.
I also thought about emphasising the importance of looking at things from different perspectives when writing the script. Suffering from memory loss isn’t as bad as you think; forgetting can be good in some way that helps us delete unpleasant memories and treasure every moment in life.