The Taiwanese documentary Money and Honey has been accepted in the 2011 Busan International Film Festival as a competition film in the “Wide Angle” section, with the world premier taking place on October 9, 2011. At the screening, the film’s director Jasmine Ching-hui Lee (李靖惠) gave the audience a shock when she appeared out of a suitcase she had been hiding in. After the screening, the Korean audience greeted the film with warm applause, their interest further fueling a lengthy Q & A session with Lee. Lee, who was visiting Korea for the fourth time, also took time to visit to a regular shooting location for the popular Korean soap opera Secret Garden, the Caffé Bene coffee shop chain.  


The Director’s Surprise Appearance Out of a Suitcase

As the world premier of Money and Honey was about to begin, Lee was hiding in a large suitcase at the front of the theater decorated with the national flags of The Philippines and Korea. When audience members expressed interest in the suitcase, the presenter who was introducing the film opened the suitcase. Lee then emerged and greeted the audience in Korean. The surprise was met with smiles from audience members, who were won over by the warmth and sincerity of the Taiwanese director’s unexpected appearance.


The film, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of Filipina amahs working as migrant laborers in Taiwan, attracted numerous groups which support migrant laborers’ rights as well as migrant laborers living in Korea. At the premier, a number of women at the premier said they were moved to tears upon seeing how the Filipina amahs managed to keep such a positive outlook while living abroad and making enormous sacrifices on behalf of their families back in the Philippines. The film caused them to reflect on their own family relationships, they said. Audience members expressed appreciation for the film on festival evaluation forms and at a lengthy post-film Q & A session, which continued in the theater lobby after the discussion time limit was reached. The screening also precipitated inquiries from representatives of several other international film festivals, who were in attendance.


Honey and Money Completes Lee’s Film Cycle

Money and Honey is the final installment in director Jasmine Ching-hui Lee’s “The Realm of Womanhood.” The film describes the lives of a group of Filipina amahs and their epic struggle between dreams and reality. This group of women has chosen to live abroad in hopes of providing better lives for their loved ones, but in their overseas lives they’ve found themselves eternally conflicted. What are they living for, money or honey (i.e. love)? Though their existences as live-in caretakers in Taiwan are full of trials and tribulations, they are able to live each day positively and with a sunny disposition. In the nursing home where they work, moving stories emerge as they interact with their elderly wards. To make the film, Lee spent 13 years documenting these women’s lives in Taiwan and the Philippines. Following its world premier at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival, Money and Honey has been selected as the opening film of the Women Make Waves Film Festival in Taipei and will kick off that festival on October 14. Lee has invited several women who appear in the film to the screening, and they will specially travel to Taipei from the Philippines for the event.

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