New York Asian 2016 Interview: HK Superstar Miriam Yeung and Director Adam Wong on SHE REMEMBERS, HE FORGETS

Featured Contributor; New York City, New York (@TheDivaReview)
New York Asian 2016 Interview: HK Superstar Miriam Yeung and Director Adam Wong on SHE REMEMBERS, HE FORGETS
Beloved in her native Hong Kong for a singing career encompassing more than 40 albums and for appearances in over 30 films, Miriam Yeung has come to the New York Asian Film Festival to receive their Star Asia award.  
Yeung hasn’t come empty-handed, she’s here with the film credited with reenergising her screen career, Pang Ho-cheung’s Love in a Puff, and her latest, an emotional story of lost chances and second lives, She Remembers, He Forgets, for which director Adam Wong was on hand.
The Lady Miz Diva: Ms. Yeung, how do you feel about winning the Star Asia award?
Miriam Yeung:  Oh, it’s my pleasure.  It’s a really great encouragement to me for my movie career.
LMD:  What are your feelings about appearing in Director Wong’s SHE REMEMBERS, HE FORGETS? 
MY:  I think it’s talking about relationships, about couples.  It’s a new challenge for me to play the role in this movie.
LMD:  Your career path has been interesting: from singer, to actress, to a mom, and then back to singer and actress again.  You’ve had a great second life as an actress with your films with Pang Ho-cheung and Adam Wong.  SHE REMEMBERS, HE FORGETS is about second chances, did you feel there was sort of a parallel to your career in that regard?
MY:  I think it is really a tough path for singers to become actors, because as a singer, you have a very solid image inside everybody’s mind.  It is very hard to change their mind.  Even if you play a very challenging role, you still have to make so much effort to prove yourself.  I think life’s experiences are very hard. 
I came across a very good story from director Wong, talking about relationships.  It’s a more mature relationship story and also is talking about a couple. It’s quite similar to my situation - not meaning that I have a bad relationship with my husband - I mean I understand the heart of the story.
LMD:  Your role is actually played by two people, yourself and the younger version of you played by Cecilia So.  Did you view each other’s performances in order to maintain a kind of similarity?
MY:  Actually, we had the shooting separately.  We didn’t meet each other during the shooting time.  But the most important thing was the director connecting us together.
Adam Wong:  We shot separately, that is true.  Since we did the young part first, after all the young parts were finished, I think we had 10 days break, which is quite a luxury, and then we had the older actors prepare and we showed some of the footage of the young story to them, so they can have a feel of how their earlier time was.  
Mostly, it was from my explanation and communication about how Ms. Yeung thought of the story. For the young actors, I requested for them not to try to follow any image that Miriam or {actor} Jan Lamb have; don’t do that, just do your own part according to my instruction and according to our discussion.
LMD:  Ms. Yeung, you’re primarily known for appearing romantic comedies and dramas, is there a genre that you haven’t yet played that you would like to?
MY:  I still feel like I want to move up; I need more experience.  I want to do better for myself.  So I need to move on to having challenges in my work, so there will be improvement afterwards.  That is why I need to do something I didn’t try before.  It’s very dangerous, it’s a risk, but it’s worth it.
LMD:  Last year you released a film called LITTLE BIG MASTER {a drama about a teacher taking over a failing kindergarten} which felt to me like something you very much did from the heart.  At this stage in your career, is a project like that more what you’re drawn to; something that you feel personally invested in that you want to share with the public?
MY:  Yes, I think that being an actor, we have our own influence, and it is very important in our society or in our community, because if we use it in the right way, or in a positive way, we can make very big changes in the community.  I have seen it.  
I think we need to help, always, in all aspects; education and love and care.  I think Little Big Master is the kind of story we want to share; the point of view of how to be a positive parent, and how to have a healthy educational system.
LMD:  Because you are so symbolic with Hong Kong film, I would like your opinion on why Hong Kong film is still important?
MY:  Hong Kong film is very important for us, because it is a kind of a record of our lives, our culture and also our wisdom inside.  Just like Cantonese Opera.  Everybody working in this industry has the responsibility to keep it up and protect this library.
LMD:  SHE REMEMBERS, HE FORGETS shows us the Hong Kong handover from the teenagers perspective.  Unlike other films that depict that time with a lot of fear - and we do see some of the characters ready to emigrate here – overall, these kids are pretty optimistic, they have big dreams and ideas.
AW:  I think one of the very special or interesting parts of this movie, is that some people will feel this film is very optimistic, as you do, but some people find it quite pessimistic.  I think nowadays Hong Kong people are in between those two things.  But just to explain the optimistic part about young people facing the turnover of Hong Kong from a British colony to China; that is from my personal feeling and personal experience.  In the movie, the young people are about 17 or 18 years old and in the 90s in Hong Kong, that was exactly my experience.  So, that comes from my real feelings. 
At that time, I knew adults sometimes talked about the turnover and they worried about the politics, but I didn’t totally understand what those things were; we were just happy.  To me, the most influence to my life was that some of my friends had to emigrate.  Every month there were new friends and new classmates, they would tell you, “I’m going to quit school and emigrate to Canada, Australia, America.”  That was the biggest influence.  So the emotion that are portrayed for the young period of this movie is from that direct emotion.
LMD:  I did feel that there was some pessimism in that we feel like Miriam’s character is trying to seize a second chance at happiness, and the message seems to be, that it’s never too late to make things right, but then it becomes complicated and very bittersweet.  It’s almost like there you’re giving the message of it is too late, you don’t get second chances.
AW:  This regretfulness is one of the core themes from the first day we had the story.
LMD:  I’m glad you mentioned how your own experience played into the film because I really enjoyed the cameo by the student “Adam Wong” when he announces that he wants to become a filmmaker.
AW:  Actually, the origin of that part was not from me, it was written by our other writer, Saville Chan.  At first he had a scene describing all these kids talking about their dream, and there’s one talking about wanted to be a director, and I read that part and I loved it, and I thought, why not have this guy be me?  I wanted to be a director at that age, but it’s not true that I would say such a thing to a teacher and I did not steal the video recorder. {Laughs.}
LMD:  Ms. Yeung, I found that there was a kind of sad similarity to Gigi in SHE REMEMBERS, HE FORGETS and Cherie in LOVE IN A PUFF, in that they were both women in unhappy relationships, who for the most part try to make the best of things.  Is that any sort of comment on women’s situations as they become more mature?
MY:  I think they are different situations.  Some women think that even though they are fortysomething, they can still be in love with younger guys, while some women will get married to their husband for more than 10 years, they still think that they can live a romantic life.  So it just depends, it’s quite personal.  There are many directions in our lives, many, many different things occur, it’s like the matrix. {Laughs.}
LMD:  Director Wong, I want to ask about your young cast, who are excellent.  What were your instructions that enabled them to keep a fresh, unforced exuberance on screen?
AW:  First of all, I chose them from around 100 applicants for the roles.  After that, I spent some time discussing what the roles were.  I wanted them to live as their roles as much as possible. Because they were young and they had no summer vacation, they were so much willing to do so. One of the fortunate parts was that most of what happens is in high school, and we shot those parts starting from the middle of August, so we had the locations free for us.  
When we were location scouting, I asked the actors to come along with us to the stage, to the classroom, and I would ask, okay, can you do something here in this sort of scene?  How would you do it?  Two days before shooting I would tell them you should start thinking about your role and how you would react different situations.  
I asked one of the actors, Neo Yau Hawk-Sau, to make a video to his own character 20 years later, which I showed to {his counterpart} Jan Lamb, so they could connect with each other in this way, and so that he could create the character for himself.  Actually, Cecelia also did a video, but it didn’t turn out so well, so I didn’t show it to Miriam.
MY:  I want to watch it because you said this today. {Laughs.}
LMD:  What would you like for SHE REMEMBERS, HE FORGETS to say to the audience?
AW:  Different people have different opinions, some might like it and a lot, some might feel I don’t quite get it; go and discuss it with each other.  Go talk to each other.  Go share ideas with each other.  I think that’s maybe what I would like to say to the audience.
This interview is cross-posted on my own site, The Diva Review. Please enjoy additional content, including exclusive photos there.
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Adam WongHong Kong CinemaMiriam YeungNYAFF 2016She Remembers He Forgets

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