Heart of the filmmaker, ‘Heart of the Andes,’ shared at Heart Walk gala; STGNews Videocast

Myke Bush, Melynda Thorpe-Burt and Keith R. Owen at the Heart Walk Foundation 7th Annual Gala at the Dixie Convention Center, St. George, Utah.

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.

 Story continues below

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.

Related Posts

Local businesswoman appointed to Heart Walk Foundation board of directors

Heart Walk Foundation bringing worlds closer through ‘Handprint Communication

Heart Walk Foundation Gala premieres ‘Heart of the Andes

Unpacking ‘Pieces of the Soul’ with sculptor Matt Clark and DocUtah filmmaker

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Myke Bush, Melynda Thorpe Burt and Keith R. Owen at the Heart Walk Foundation 7th Annual Gala at the Dixie Convention Center, St. George, Utah. | Photo by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News. Jan. 9, 2013

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  • Penelope Eicher February 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

    What a well written story by Sarafina Amodt about this sold-out event. it is uplifting to see how so many people of Southern Utah have been partnering with Q’ero villagers in the Andes in their endeavors to build food security and schools for their children. All eyes in the house were riveted on this beautiful film, and our hearts were touched by the compelling stories of hope and connection between the people of the north (eagle) and the people of the south (condor). Thanks to editor Joyce Kuzmanic for the support and coverage of the power of our community to make a difference in this world.

  • Tim Eicher February 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks, Sarafina, for covering this event and generously donating your time. I am glad you were able to share some of the passion we feel in our work in Peru. Melynda’s documentary beautifully captures a piece of the work the foundation has been doing for many years now with several communities of the Andes. Tim Eicher, Heart Walk Foundation

  • David Jamieson February 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

    This was my second Heart Walk Foundation Gala and last September I was able to travel with Melynda to Peru to be present during her filming of Heart of The Andes. What a remarkable experience my involvement with Heart Walk has been and how I have struggled to share with others the magical synergies happening. I’m from Seattle and at times have stumbled in conveying to the ‘outside world’ the incredible magic that is being created by the good folks of Southern Utah and the wonderful Q’ero people of Peru under the auspice of Heart Walk Foundation. Then comes bang on, to the point, and of the heart media coverage like Sarafina’s review of the Gala under the tutelage of Joyce as editor. I can now just point to such articles and video clips and folks as far away as Washington State, Toronto, and Northern California are intrigued and impressed. We ‘outsiders’ are captivated, as much by the Q’ero in Peru as we are by the good hearts of and notable journalism happening in St. George. Well done each and all.

  • Melanie Kimbel February 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Thank you so much to reporter Sarafina Amodt and editor Joyce Kuzmanic for this outstanding coverage of our gala this year. I’ve been a volunteer on the Board of Directors of Heart Walk Foundation since 2008, doing much of the fundraising alongside the HWF founders for the critical mission of providing sustainability projects and hope for the forgotten people of Peru. I’ve attended four HWF annual galas. I live in N. California, but I wouldn’t miss this event for the world. This year’s event was by far the most successful. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the St. George community. We exceeded our fundraising goals this year because Melynda and her crew had a magnificent film message to share, and she worked hard to get a sell-out crowd to receive it. We have a healthy foundation for the programs we’ll bring to the villagers this year. Thank you from me and thank you from the Q’ero people.

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