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'The Mountain and The Maiden' wins best documentary in Short Int'l Film Festival

LOS ANGELES (PRNewswire) -- Directors Shmuel Hoffman and Anton von Heiseler have taken home the Best Documentary award from this year's L.A. Shorts International Film Festival.

Securing another win for the short film, "The Mountain & the Maiden," the work is also a featured selection at the Cannes Independent Film Festival and won Best Documentary at the Munich Film Festival, as well as numerous winnings at the Los Angeles Cinematography Awards.

The directors hope the film will secure the support needed to help the impoverished family featured in the story.

"Although she lives, works, and sings in one of the worst places on Earth for a child to live - a literal mountain-range of garbage -- Aspiya's voice is ultimately one of hope and dignity," said director Hoffman.

"Like many poor children around the globe, Aspiya spends every single day in unbelievable conditions, the likes of which most of the world cannot fathom. Trapped by circumstance and by incredible poverty, Aspiya and her Muslim-minority family are immigrants with limited work and income opportunities. That's ultimately why we created this film: to shine a light on the quiet desperation surrounding the global garbage industry. We wanted to help Aspiya, and many other children just like her - before their hope runs out."

The "Mountain and the Maiden" follows 10-year-old Aspiya as she lives her life digging through scraps in a smoking, fetid garbage wasteland outside of India's capital.

The story contains little dialogue, but instead, is a brief and poignant glimpse into a life marked by abject poverty, juxtaposed with profound dignity.

Backed by a haunting musical score, young Aspiya wanders through a dangerous wasteland fed by garbage trucks that ran over and killed three of her brothers.

She ultimately hopes to find enough valuable scraps to pay for her family's living expenses, and one day escape the trash pits to return to her hometown of Bangalore.

"I am afraid of the trucks - my three brothers died here," Aspiya explains in the film.

Purple and red-scarved, she drifts through fields of endless trash like a surreal mirage. "There are spirits here. Spirits from the people who died here. Their souls wander around here and cry."

To learn more about the award-winning film, the directors, or how to help Aspiya and her family, please visit:

SOURCES: Shmuel Hoffman and Anton von Heiseler; PRNewswire

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