你好，李焕英 (Ni Hao, Li Huanying)
China, 2021, 128’, Mandarin
Directed by: Jia Ling
Screenplay: Jia Ling, Sun Jibin, Wang Yu, Liu Honglu, Bu Yu, Guo Yupeng
Photography (color): Sun Ming, Liu Yin
Editing: Ye Xiang
Art Direction: Zhao Hai
Costumes: Liu Xiaoli
Music: Peng Fei
Sound: Zhao Nan, Yang Jiang
Executive Direction: Gu Haiping
Production Companies: Beijing Jingxi Culture & Tourism, Shanghai Ruyi Film & Tv Prod., Tianjin Maoyan Weiying Media, Bj Cheering Time Culture & Entertainment, New Classic Media, Bj Big Bowl Entertainment Culture Media, Alibaba Pictures
Cast: Jia Ling (Jia Xiaoling), Zhang Xiaofei (young Li Huanying), Shen Teng (Shen Guanglin, Wang Qin’s husband), Chen He (Leng Te, gangleader), Liu Jia (middle-aged Li Huanying), Ding Jiali (middle-aged Bao Yumei), Wang Lin (middle-aged Wang Qin)
Date of First Release in Territory: February 12th, 2021
The film that in China in 2021, during and in spite of the pandemic, gave rise to a phenomenon of colossal dimensions was, all in all, an unexpected success. Hi, Mom is a “small”, very personal film, which Jia Ling – director, screenwriter and star of the film – dedicated to her mother who died when she was still young; but it is a film the entire nation has identified with, turning it into a general ode to all Chinese mothers. Jia Ling, who began her career as a stand-up comedian, gradually becoming a popular figure in theatre and television, had already debuted a sketch entitled Hi, Mom on the Comedy General Mobilization television programme in 2016, and over the next three years worked with five other writers to come up with a screenplay for a feature film based on the same concept. The film begins in 2001 when Jia Xiaoling, who has been a source of problems for her parents since she was a child because of her careless and rebellious nature, becomes obsessed with the belief that she is a failure as a human being and a constant disappointment to her mother. So she decides to forge a certificate of admission to the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, and proudly presents it to her parents. The deception is discovered during a party to celebrate their daughter’s academic success. Despite her embarrassment and perpetual frustration, her mother never seems to lose faith in Xiaoling. When she is killed in a car accident, her daughter falls into such despair that she unconsciously “returns to the past.” Xiaoling suddenly finds herself catapulted back to 1981 inside the Victory Chemical Factory in Hubei Province, where she meets her mother – still a young girl – and the group of people who would become Xiaoling’s family: her father, godmother, godfather, mother’s colleague/rival, and various friends. As soon as she recovers from her surprise and realises that no one will ever believe that she came from the “future,” Xiaoling decides to change her mother’s destiny so that she can have a husband, a daughter and, in general, a better future than she really did have...
The idea of time-travel is not new in Chinese cinema, and in the last few years we have seen several examples of it – Miss Granny (2015) and Goodbye Mr. Loser (2015) among others – but in Hi, Mom this narrative pattern is coupled with sincere nostalgia for the simplicity of life in the pre-modernisation socialist era, and it incorporates clearly autobiographical elements. Indeed, the film is set in Jia Ling’s hometown, the main character is called Jia Xiaoling, the name in the film’s Chinese title – literally Hello, Li Huanying – is her mother’s, and her father Jia Wentian also has a small role in the film. Some of the other performers are famous comic actors who have worked with Jia Ling – notably Sheng Teng (Never Say Die, FEFF 2018, Pegasus, FEFF 2019) and Zhang Xiaofei, the first actress to be represented by the Big Bowl Entertainment agency founded by Jia Ling in 2016.
These elements evidently resonated deeply with audiences, and the theatrical release of a film centred on the story of a mother during the Chinese New Year, when due to the pandemic many were unable to return home to spend the holidays with their families, led to the extraordinary success of Hi, Mom, which totalled US $850 million at the box office – surpassed in China only by Wolf Warrior II in 2017 – transforming Jia Ling into the most commercially successful director in the history of world cinema.
Actress, screenwriter, director, stand-up comedian and xiangsheng (cross-talk) artist, Jia Ling (Hubei province, 1982) graduated from the Central Academy of Drama in 2003. In the same year, she took first prize in the First Beijing Comic Sketch Tournament. In 2010, she participated in CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala and won the third prize for best performance. She is mainly known for her work in television and theatre. In 2016 she won the Best Comedian of the Year award at the Netease Fashion Crossover Festival. In the same year, she participated in the first season of a television show called Comedy General Mobilization, winning with a sketch called Hello, Li Huanying which was later repurposed into her directorial debut film, Hi, Mom.
2021 – Hi, Mom