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Letters From BIFF Programmers

Money Has Four Legs from the New Currents Section

A reason a film feels more special to us in an era of media inundation could be due to the unimaginable amount of time and effort that goes into finishing it.

Selected in the New Currents section at the 25th Busan International Film Festival, Money Has Four Legs is the first film to be invited from Myanmar. The film is the result of collaboration among many countries and a great deal of hard work by the director and the producer. In 2012, director Maung Sun started brainstorming the plot; in 2016, he received the Myanmar Script Fund for the film at the MEMORY! International Film Festival organized by the Technicolor Foundation in France.

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Money Has Four Legs tells the story of a filmmaker who fights to produce his own film. The project seemed to have foreshadowed Sun’s own future; consequently, I was anxious to not have heard any updates in years from the director.

This year’s extenuating circumstances are without parallel; however, Myanmar normally produces about 100 feature-length films for theater release each year. This volume of films is not small compared to that of nearby Thailand. To protect local films, the Myanmar government has legislated that native-language subtitles cannot be added to imported films. As the result, there are few chances to watch foreign films except for those that can understand English dialogues or read English subtitles or those who watch films primarily for visual enjoyment. However, the Myanmar government imposes strict censorship on its own films, the hypocrisy of which does not escape local filmmakers.
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While waiting for news on the film, the final cut version was submitted to the Busan International Film Festival earlier this year. The color grading and sound editing was not yet finished; however, we sent the official invitation to the festival. Thankfully, the invitation served as momentum for the rest of the post-production to be finished at White Light Post in Thailand. White Light Post is a premier post-production studio in Southeast Asia that also works with Hollywood films, including Call Me by Your Name starring Timothée Chalamet.
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As a quick aside, Thai Sayombhu Mukdeeprom did the cinematography for Call Me by Your Name. The director and producer of the film were worried, because although they wanted to depict the sunny and clear Italian weather in the film, it was cloudy all throughout the shoot. Mukdeeprom, however, assured them that even if one shoots in the rainy season in Thailand, they can get the colors they want if they get the post-editing done at White Light. The editors would be horrified to hear that they have to mind each and every cut in the original, but the anecdote remains a statement to their mastery.
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The film features various indoor and outdoor scenes in the city and the outskirts of Myanmar. Their portrayal in rich and realistic colors are worth looking forward to.

The English title of the film, Money Has Four Legs, is a Myanmar proverb that means money runs away more quickly with its four feet than the person chasing it. At the same time, money finds a person that much more quickly when it is looking for them.
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I find the director’s journey of 10 years from the development of the scenario to its finish incredible. I hope that this self-financed film Money Has Four Legs will be meaningful to all those striving towards their life goals, including those dreaming of becoming filmmakers.
박성호 아시아 프로그래머

By Asian Cinema Programmer PARK Sungho