All nine finalists created films to raise awareness of local nonprofit organizations in the Pasadena community and the Greater Los Angeles area. It was announced that each of the nine nonprofits received a $2,500 grant from the Pasadena Community Foundation. The event raised $200,000, which will be used to support PCF’s grant-making programs for Pasadena- and Los Angeles-area nonprofit organizations.
“We are excited to have been able to be a part of this event and celebrate these powerful stories of ‘doing good’ in Pasadena. Our films give the community a unique perspective on the missions of our incredible nonprofits,” said Jennifer DeVoll, CEO of Pasadena Community Foundation. “We are proud of our collaboration with Alibaba Pictures and look forward to seeing these stories shared.”
“Giving back to the communities we serve is a shared priority of Alibaba Pictures and PCF,” said Wei Zhang, president of Alibaba Pictures Group Limited. “These filmmakers have shown a true dedication to telling the compelling stories of Pasadena-area nonprofits. Our hope is that this project inspires others to find their philanthropic passion and make an impact in their communities. As a local resident of the Pasadena area, I’m proud of the stories being told due to this partnership and to positively contribute to all of the great organizations involved.”
“I applaud the filmmakers for their creative contributions to the goals of “Big Heart Small Film,” said Steven Spielberg, one of the industry’s most successful and influential filmmakers and competition judge. “Their variety of stories expressed not only their talent, but also their desire to make a personal impact on viewers here and around the world. It is terrific to see a partnership between Alibaba Pictures and the Pasadena Community Foundation designed to turn a light — and a lens — on the good work all around us.”
These winning films exhibited a mastery of storytelling and creatively addressed their nonprofits’ unique work in Pasadena.
The Gold Prize was awarded to “Dear Mama,” a film that follows a man’s journey to re-enter society after incarceration, by Jiayuan Liu, and highlights the nonprofit Flintridge Center, which creates opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals to become contributing and self-sufficient community members.
The Silver Prize was awarded to “Point & Dream,” which explores the issue of homelessness from the eyes of a child, by Rui Cui, and highlights the Union Station Homeless Services nonprofit, which helps homeless individuals and families rebuild their lives, leading the way to end homelessness in our community.
There were two Bronze Prizes awarded. One was given to “Them,” by Taro Wei, about a glimpse into the life of a girl with autism and her mother’s determination to ensure her child has opportunities, representing the nonprofit Professional Child Development Associates, which offers a range of specialized therapy services and programs for children, teens and young adults who have autism or other developmental disabilities.
The other Bronze was awarded to “Headshot,” by Eva Ye, which shares the story of an aspiring actress and a printer, both who look beyond their disabilities and learn they can do anything. The film highlights the nonprofit AbilityFirst, which provides a variety of programs designed to help people with disabilities achieve their personal best throughout their lives.
The awards ceremony showed each of the four winning films. One judge gave “Dear Mama,” a perfect score, commenting that the concept of the film was “imaginative and well-executed.”
The competition was judged by a group of prominent entertainment industry leaders, including directors Spielberg (“Jaws,” “Jurassic Park”); John Lee Hancock (“Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Founder”); and D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia,” “Eagle Eye”); producer Don Hahn (“Beauty & the Beast”); actor and entrepreneur Billy Zane (“Titanic”); Alibaba Pictures Group Limited President Wei Zhang; head of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s Producers Program, Denise Mann; chairman and CEO of East West Bank, Dominic Ng. John Horn from KPCC’s “The Frame” was the emcee.
The other participating Pasadena nonprofits and filmmakers include: Arroyo’s & Foothills Conservancy — Angela Liu; Five Acres — Dmitry Kharchuk and Xueru Tang; Pasadena Playhouse — Xinxuan (Demi) Zhong; Huntington Senior Care Network — Muqing Li; Pasadena Police Activities League — Qingge Gao; and Professional Child Development Associates — Siyu (Taro) Wei.
For more information about the Big Hearts Small Film event and competition, visit: bigheartsmallfilm.org.