The series In Love. The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai starts on exclusively MUBI on March 19, 2021 in many countries.
NOTEBOOK: The restoration process has enabled you to revisit your films, fixing old issues as well as making fresh changes. Do you feel like a film is ever finished, or are there always more ways to play with what you’ve made? Should a movie be considered a living artwork?
WONG KAR WAI: As the saying goes: “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Having arrived at the end of this process, these words still hold true.
NOTEBOOK: You’re known to work with improvisation on the set, and with screenplays or scenarios that shift during production. Do your movies surprise you in the final form they take? What is this discovery process—of realizing a film’s true destiny—like for you?
WONG: Filmmaking is an organic process from start to finish, so there should be many surprises along the way. You never know what film you really have until it is delivered.
NOTEBOOK: What are your thoughts on the role of curation in cinema, does it have more significance with the rise of film streaming?
WONG: When I was young, the idea of “world cinema” didn’t exist. We would watch any films that we could find in the cinemas. Today, some of those films have become accessible again on streaming platforms. In a way, it doesn’t matter as much where they exist as long as people have access to them.
NOTEBOOK: How has the global pandemic and lockdown changed your relationship to cinema? Have you and your family been watching things at home differently? Will this experience impact the way you make movies or think about cinema in the future?
WONG: It takes less effort to stream a film at home these days. However, streaming should not fundamentally affect how a film is made, as long as the pleasure of watching films doesn’t change, and we as filmmakers continue to serve that purpose.
NOTEBOOK: The pandemic has forced many to reconsider and reevaluate their personal relationships and their needs for intimacy and human connection. During these challenging times, what is the mood of love today?
WONG: Solidarity and compassion.