PROGRAM 13 / PROGRAM 36
SATURDAY, MAY 1 | THE MOUNTAIN THIEF | 12:30 PM | DGA 3
|THE MOUNTAIN THIEF
DATE: SATURDAY, MAY 1
TIME: 12:30 PM
VENUE: DGA 3
THE MOUNTAIN THIEF
(United States/Philippines, 2009) Dir./Scr.: Gerry Balasta
Video, 78 min., color, narrative, in Tagalog w/ E.S.
Haunted by childhood memories in Manila of the unbearable stench that wafted from nearby Payatas, where the country’s largest dump site stands, filmmaker Gerry Balasta vowed to himself to share the story of the nation’s most destitute, those who make the mountainous heap of trash their home and sole source of income. Several years in the making, Balasta’s THE MOUNTAIN THIEF depicts one of the world’s most horrendous living conditions in a touching motion picture that is not only a film, but an agent of philanthropy and a plea for change.
THE MOUNTAIN THIEF is a story of Julio and his handicapped son Ingo, both of whom have fled the war-torn region of Mindanao only to find no other option for survival than to seek refuge in a shanty village called Little Hope. They start a new life picking through the city’s garbage for cans, bottles and anything else they can sell in order to make enough money to keep themselves from starving. It’s an impossible situation, but they begin to make do, even making friends and finding love. Eventually, they get embroiled in the malicious business of one fellow villager and their existence, already teetering ever so precariously, gets a deadly jolt, and they are forced to flee once again.
In a decision that adds a considerable amount of weight and authenticity, the film had called upon the real life, trash-collecting inhabitants of Payatas. The production went so far as instituting acting workshops for those who’d eventually make up the cast. But, regardless of any acting aptitudes, the cast lends the film its genuine realism more than any professional thespian could have. This film has made a direct impact on its subject matter more than most films that deal with the plight of the disadvantaged and downtrodden. Acting workshops is one thing, but the filmmakers also created the Mount Hope Project to help raise funds for the scavengers who acted in the film. A positive change has already affected these people directly, and it is in the call for benevolence that this film’s impact will be felt. Balasta has created a dramatic and suspenseful film told with multiple perspectives, and an adventurous sense of a nonlinear narrative. However, he never loses sight on the human factor. A project of sincere intention and great passion, THE MOUNTAIN THIEF is a startling insight into a nightmarish world made more remarkable because of the slight glimpse of the ever-enduring human spirit.
— Joel Quizon
COMMUNITY CO-PRESENTER: Asian Pacific Health Care Venture