ST. GEORGE – The Heart Walk Foundation Gala Saturday night premiered Melynda Thorpe Burt’s documentary film, ‘The Heart of the Andes’ – an original story that was never before told as she did, bringing the people’s daily lives to a viewing and supportive crowd of some 240 guests.
The Heart Walk Foundation Gala
The Heart Walk Foundation 7th Annual Gala provided guests ways to help raise money for the young students and tribes of the Andes Mountains in Peru. These indigenous Q’ero people live in small remote villages with no roads or sewer plants as not much has changed for the past 50 centuries.
There were no beds, tables, chairs or toys in most villages until the Heart Walk Foundation provided the villages with schools, books, papers and pencils funded by generous donations. Many native people of the Andes Mountain’s have never held a pencil before. The gala provided an opportunity to not only learn about the Q’ero people but to help them learn and grow through funding the Heart Walk Foundation. A silent auction throughout the 3-course meal as well as a live auction after the evening’s special premiere were just a few extra ways money was raised during the gala.
Items such as two copies of Lynne Clark’s pictorial history book of St. George, Images of Faith, as well as a week stay at the Hyatt Place hotel in Salt Lake City and one of Matt Clark’s recycled metal sculptures were auctioned off, just to list a few.
The money that was raised on Saturday night will go to help the diets of the Q’ero people by building greenhouses and trout farms, much needed by them as the villagers have a lack of protein and vegetables.
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Videocast by Sarafina Amodt
The Heart of the Andes Documentary
Burt went to Peru looking to tell a story that was never told before. Her intentions were to tell the story of how the Heart Walk Foundation helped saved Andes Mountain tribes from death by starvation. After returning home and working side-by-side with audio engineer Keith Owen and videographer Myke Bush, Burt did not end up telling the story she had first planned to tell.
After 20 years of working on corporate videos Burt decided she would make her own video. She is a longtime writer and has been following the Heart Walk Foundation for a few years. When Burt found out that the Heart Walk Foundation has been helping the indigenous people and their desire to stay and survive up in the mountains she approached Penelope Eicher, co-founder of the Heart Walk Foundation, and told her a documentary on the people and the work of Heart Walk needed to be done.
Burt raised money from garage sales so she could go to Peru and tell this story. Burt had a script, a list of shots to take and a plan to tell a story. A few days into the filming in Peru, Burt knew that if she followed her outline she would miss the emotional side of the story – the heartfelt side she wanted people to connect with.
“Corporate video is one thing, but having the creative ability to tell this story as a storyteller,” Burt said, “as I perceived, was an incredible opportunity.”
“The Heart of the Andes” is Burt’s first step into filmmaking and she plans on making more. She said her documentary perfectly captures the essence of her experience and how connected to the mountains the Q’ero people are. The documentary narrowed in on one of the students of the Heart Walk School: Romario, an 11-year-old who lives alone and reads mathematics textbooks to himself as a bedtime story.
A good time and place to find out why Romario lives alone would be to attend the DOCUTAH International Film Festival where Heart of the Andes will be screened for public viewing. The DOCUTAH Southern Utah International Documentary Film Festival is a five day festival of documentaries on various subjects of interest. DOCUTAH originated at Dixie State College in 2010 and was designated one of the nation’s best “Small-Town Documentary Film Festivals for 2012” by the Public Broadcasting System. This year the festival dates are Sept. 3 – 7.
For a complete list of films and screen times head to DocUtah’s website.
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