Hi, Mom's director-star Jia Ling: I think mum would be happy for me
Hi, Mom film-maker thankful to audiences' support for ode to her late mother
Hi, Mom, the directorial debut of popular Chinese comedienne-actress Jia Ling, has earned 5.38 billion yuan (S$1.1 billion) at the box office, making it the highest-grossing movie of all time from a female director.
It is also the second highest-grossing movie in China and looks set to unseat the 2017 action film Wolf Warrior 2.
No one could have foreseen such record-breaking success for the time-travel melodrama-comedy, not even Jia herself.
The 38-year-old, who also co-wrote and stars in Hi, Mom, said in an e-mail interview with The New Paper: "I could not have thought of this (success) in the beginning. I am thankful for the audiences' support and love."
Released in China during Chinese New Year and opening here today, the film follows how a high school graduate (Jia Ling) is suddenly transported back to 1981 after her mother is injured in a road accident, where she meets the young version of her mother Li Huanying (Zhang Xiaofei).
Hi, Mom also serves as Jia's loving tribute to her late mum.
In 2001, just one month after Jia enrolled in The Central Academy of Drama, her mother died in a tractor accident.
After years of dealing with the loss, she decided to share the story of her mother - by writing and performing a sketch-comedy in 2016, which was later developed into Hi, Mom and featured the same cast members.
Hoping to re-enact and showcase a Li Huanying in her prime, Jia said: "Most of the things (that happened in the film) took place before I was born, so I wouldn't know the details. But the emotions captured in the film are true, sincere and from the bottom of my heart."
She added: "All my mother wanted for me was to be happy and healthy.
"She passed away before knowing what career I would choose, but I think she would be happy for me if she was here today, for I have realised a lot of my dreams, did a lot of things that I wanted to do, and have done them quite well."
Crediting Hi, Mom's critical and commercial triumph to how the "deep maternal love" portrayed resonated with audiences, Jia hopes to remind others to treasure what they have and connect with their parents more.
Apart from being emotionally stressed, she admitted that "everything was quite hard" as a first-time director.
"A lot of things are new to me, but I've tried my best. Looking back, I think the outcome is good, everyone enjoyed the movie."
When asked if she will be making more movies in the future, she said: "Maybe, if there are relatable stories or topics, but I haven't thought that far yet."