USA | 6 minutes | 2019
Drama short film by Vanessa Kao
Starring Ming-Hsiung Lin, Chien-Ho Chang
Dance with Me
An elder Taiwanese man visits his wife with dementia at a nursing home. He teaches her a waltz dance that she taught him when they first fell in love, hoping to bring back her memory.
CineAsian Films (CAF): Dance with Me is a such a tender film that shows the affects of dementia. What inspired you to explore a story like this?
Vanessa Kao: I wrote this film in my first year at USC film school, when I just moved from Taiwan to L.A. At that time, my grandaunt and aunt both suffered from dementia. They could still recognize me before I left my hometown, but I always feared that they would forget about me when I go back. I knew that I would have to face this eventually, so I created this film to explore how people cope with the loss and struggle when their loved ones have dementia. I wanted to be as gentle and authentic as possible when tackling this topic. It is never easy to let go and accept the fact that someone we deeply love doesn’t know us anymore.
CAF: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during production?
Kao: It was hard to find older Taiwanese actors in L.A. who can speak Taiwanese. I ended up casting my uncle’s friends as Yuan-Wang and Chun-Chih, and they had never acted before this. But I think they did exceptionally well. They are a cute couple in real life, and I am glad that I could capture the love between them on screen.
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from watching this film?
Kao: I hope people who are also going through similar hardship in life can feel understood and seen. I believe the memories between you and your loved ones will remain timeless in a beautiful way. I sincerely wish that we learn to accept and deal with dementia behavior with compassion.
CAF: Are you working on anything new?
Kao: I released a music video for L.A. artist Megan Winsor. It is a funny, colorful and playful project. You can check it out on YouTube. Also, I will be co-directing a feature next semester at USC. Follow my Instagram for more. There will be a lot more exciting projects to come.
Dance with Me is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.
Director, Writer: Vanessa Kao
Producer, Editor: Yuke Li
Cinematographer: Yutong Liu
Music: Julia Newman
Also featuring: Todd Lien, Rena Wang