Film cap­tures a mother’s strug­gle with Alzheimer’s

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By XUFAN xufan@chi­

Kara Wai Ying-hung says she feels guilty about her late dis­cov­ery of her mother’s strug­gle with Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

“My mother showed the early-stage symp­toms in her 50s, an age seem­ingly too young to de­velop the dis­ease. I didn’t re­al­ize it in time and had been rude and care­less to her.”

With her ca­reer span­ning 40 years, Wai is one of the icons in the mar­tial arts genre in Hong Kong cinemas. The first re­cip­i­ent of the Hong Kong Academy Award for best actress, Wai has acted in about 150 movies and TV se­ries.

To make amends for her ig­no­rance, the award-win­ning actress has cho­sen to make a film cen­ter­ing on the dis­ease to raise the pub­lic aware­ness and pro­mote so­cial care of the elderly.

Hap­pi­ness, which will open across China on Fri­day, has re­ceived wide at­ten­tion at sev­eral in­ter­na­tional film events, such as the 39th Asian-Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val held last month in­NewYork.

At the 7th Ma­cao In­ter­na­tion­alMovie Fes­ti­val, Wai and Car­los Chan, re­spec­tively, won the best actress and best sup­port­ing ac­tor awards for their close-to-life per­for­mance.

De­picted byWai as a twisted re­flec­tion of her life, the bit­ter­sweet tale chron­i­cles an un­likely friend­ship be­tween a lonely young man and his land­lord, an elderly woman in the early stage of Alzheimer’s.

Chan, a Hong Kong singer­ac­tor known for the 2014 HIV/ AIDS-themed movie For Love, We Can, stars as the young man, who turns from an un­co­op­er­a­tive ten­ant to a car­ing friend.

Wai re­veals that her char­ac­ter’s phys­i­cal fea­tures, with gray hair and clumsy ges­tures, are based on her mother, who was fi­nally di­ag­nosed with the ill­ness in her 70san­dis­now91.

“I owemy mother an apol­ogy,” saysWai.

Wai’s mother be­came badtem­pered and be­gan to lose her me­mory when she was in her 50s. How­ever, the signs were ig­nored by the then busy actress who sim­ply saw the in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship as a gen­er­a­tional gap.

“The con­flicts and squab­bles in the movie were sit­u­a­tions that I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Once the only money-earner in fam­ily, Wai’s mother ped­dled goods on Hong Kong streets to raise Wai and her sib­lings. Wai tapped into the show­biz cir­cle at 14 and has tasted the ups and downs of theHong Kong film in­dus­try.

“NowI’mstill liv­ing withmy mother, who’s my big­gest sup­port. I hope peo­ple who watch Hap­pi­ness will care more about the elderly at home,” says the 56-year-old, who has switched to in­die ti­tles in re­cent years.

Lat­est sta­tis­tics re­ported by the do­mes­tic media show that China has the world’s largest pop­u­la­tion of Alzheimer’s pa­tients, reach­ing 10 mil­lion by the end of last year.

But the world’s sec­ond-largest movie mar­ket, with an an­nual out­put north of 600 movies last year, has very few big-screen pro­duc­tions re­flect­ing the group.

Last year, a sim­i­lar-themed movie The Song of Cot­ton gar­nered lim­ited at­ten­tion amid the com­mer­cial gen­res that dom­i­nate the mar­ket.

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