“Growing up in a town in Manila, I still remember that when a strong wind blew from the west, we had to cover our noses. If I close my eyes today, I can still smell the sickening stench coming from the country’s largest dumpsite. To this day, I am haunted by this memory, because I knew back then that people were born, lived and died in those monstrous mountains of trash. After I moved to the US, I realized, that it is essential for me to share this disturbing yet ultimately hopeful story of man’s love for life and his ability to endure.”
-- Director Gerry Balasta
After having its world premiere in San Francisco March 2010, The Mountain Thief screening at festivals around the world and won the Special Jury Prize at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Amongst its accolades is the power of the film to create a movement to give back and improve the lives of the residents living on the largest dumpsite in the world in Payatas, Philippines.
During production, the filmmakers set up a micro-philanthropy project called THE MOUNT HOPE PROJECT to help the actors who worked on the The Mountain Thief. Some of the goals they want to fulfill are:
- Richard is a 9-year-old who was born in Payatas and considers the mountains of trash his playground. He was born with a medical condition called hydrocephalous which causes visual impairment. Richard dreams to read and write someday.
- Julio, who is the lead role in the film, has been scavenging for trash since he was 12 and hasn’t stopped working because this is how he supports his family. Julio dreams to see his 3-year-old son (who has a club foot deformity) walk one day.
By 2009, through the fundraising efforts of inspired supporters and fans, two children were able to receive medical treatment including surgery for Julio’s son. We hope this film inspires you too.
To watch a video about the residents who are being helped, visit Youtube.