After the screening of his feature film The Mountain Thief, director Gerry Balasta was a bit stunned by the silence inside the theater. Did the audience not like his film? Did they sneak out of the theater?
Turns out it was the opposite: They were so moved by his first feature film that some were wiping away their tears.
“I want to tell stories that move people, stories that show our humanity and our commonality as human beings. My intention is to make movies that has the possibility of inspiring change,” said Balasta, the 2010 winner of the George C. Lin Emerging Filmmaker Award.
The Mountain Thief revolves around a father and son who move to the garbage-collecting town of Payatas to seek refuge and redemption from war. The film’s cast are graduates of the town’s only acting workshop – a workshop founded by Balasta in December of 2004.
“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,” Balasta states on the film’s website.
The filmmakers decided to make a difference. They created the Mount Hope Project to help the scavengers who acted in the film. Thanks to the supporters and fans of The Mountain Thief, two of the children involved in the film received medical care, including surgery for one child with a club foot deformity. Balasta shows the compelling footage of his recovery as the end credits roll.
Balasta and The Mountain Thief reflect the spirit of adventure and inventiveness in filmmaking that George C. Lin admired so much.
“I was at a film festival in France and I was so thrilled when I got the news. It feels good when your work gets recognition, but this award is very special in that it is conceived in memory of a truly great man and it also recognized my possibilities as a filmmaker,” said Balasta.
The Lin Award was established in 2009 to recognize young and talented filmmakers that have shown an exemplary commitment to filmmaking within the Asian and Asian American film genre. The award commemorates the life of George C. Lin, who died on October 14, 2008, at the age of 37. From 2000 to 2003, George served as Founding Executive Director of D.C. APA Film.
“From what everyone told me, my impression is he’s a truly amazing man, for having accomplished so much in his life, especially in dedicating his life so that filmmakers like myself will have an opportunity to share their work,” said Balasta. “He is so well loved by everyone and I really wish, I had the privilege of meeting him. It really is an absolute honor to get the GCL award and Georgie, and I intend to honor him back with my work.”
The George Lin Memorial Fund
The George C. Lin Memorial Fund was established by the Lin family in October of 2008 in memory of George Lin (1971-2008). The fund provides charitable grants to students, educators and professionals in the non-profit media and arts industries. Additionally, the fund provides grants and other forms of support promoting Pheochromocytoma cancer research, education and awareness
To read more about The George C. Lin Memorial Fund, please click here.
The Georgie is a beautiful award sculpted by Chin Wen Chuang.