Alibaba Pictures, Pasadena Community Foundation Announce Winners of the Big Heart Small Film Competition

Tom Seifert, left, Jennifer Devoll and Diane Philibosian pose for a picture during the Big Heart Small Film Awards CeremonyMelinda Stahlnix and D.J. CarusoActor Billy Zane a judge for the Big Heart Small Film festivalActor Billy Zane is interviewedEva Ye, left, Lauren Potter and Khalif BoydMayor of Pasadena Terry Tornek and his wife MariaBig Heart Small Film actors, directors and producers pose for a pictureTaro Wei, Angela Liu, Jia Yuan Liu, and Demi Zhong, all filmmakers for the Big Heart Small Film FestivalLucas Paz, Muqing Lildict, Rui Cui and Josh Litman, all filmmakers for the Big Heart Small Film FestivalActors, Producers and Directors pose for a pictureGuests sign their name on the Big Heart Small Film celebration wall.Guests sign their name on the Big Heart Small Film celebration wall.Guests pose for picturesActors and Producers pose for pictures.Kathryn Mgrublian, left, and Gisela Morales

9:39 am | November 17, 2017

Alibaba Pictures Group Limited and the Pasadena Community Foundation announced the four winners of their Big Heart Small Film competition at a premiere event on Thursday at the Huntington Library’s Rothenberg Hall.

All nine finalists created films to raise awareness of local non-profit organizations in the Pasadena community and the Greater Los Angeles area. It was announced that each of the nine non-profits received a $2,500 grant from the Pasadena Community Foundation. The event raised $200,000, which will be used to support Pasadena Community Foundation’s grant-making programs for Pasadena- and Los Angeles-area non-profit 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 non-profits,” 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 non-profits. 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 non-profits’ unique work in Pasadena:

Gold Prize

• DEAR MAMA – follows a man on a journey to re-enter society after incarceration.
• Filmmaker: Jiayuan Liu, USC School of Cinematic Arts
• Non-profit: Flintridge Center creates opportunities for individuals to become contributing and self-sufficient community members.

Silver Prize

• POINT & DREAM – explores the issue of homelessness from the eyes of a child.
• Filmmaker: Rui Cui, USC School of Cinematic Arts
• Non-profit: Union Station Homeless Services helps homeless individuals and families rebuild their lives, leading the way to end homelessness in our community.

Bronze Prizes

• THEM – gives a glimpse into the life of a girl with autism and her mother’s determination to ensure her child has opportunities.
• Filmmaker: Taro Wei, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
• Non-Profit: Professional Child Development Associates offers a range of specialized therapy services and programs for children, teens, and young adults who have autism or other developmental disabilities.


• HEADSHOT – shares the story of an aspiring actress and a printing professional, who look beyond their disabilities and learn they can do anything.
• Filmmaker: Eva Ye, USC School of Cinematic Arts
• Non-profit: AbilityFirst provides a variety of programs designed to help people with disabilities achieve their personal best throughout their lives.

The Awards Ceremony on Thursday, November 16 showed each of the four winning films. One judge gave “Dear Mama,” the Gold Prize film by Jiayuan Liu featuring Flintridge Center, 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 Steven 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”); President, Alibaba Pictures Group Limited, 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 (KPCC’s “The Frame”) was the emcee.

The participating Pasadena non-profits and filmmakers include:

• Arroyo’s & Foothills Conservancy – Angela Liu
• Five Acres – Dmitry Kharchuk & Xueru Tang
• Pasadena Playhouse – Xinxuan (Demi) Zhong
• AbilityFirst – Eva Ye
• Flintridge Center – Jiayuan Liu
• Huntington Senior Care Network – Muqing Li
• Pasadena Police Activities League (PAL) – Qingge Gao
• Professional Child Development Associates – Siyu (Taro) Wei
• Union Station Homeless Services – Rui Cui

For more information about the Big Hearts Small Film event and competition, please visit: