Alibaba Film Studios charity partnership a win for Pasadena


By locating their American headquarters in Pasadena rather than Santa Monica, Hollywood or Beverly Hills, Alibaba Pictures have gone against the grain in a big way.  

If the company’s Big Heart, Small Film competition is any measure, the move will pay huge dividends — not only for the Chinese film studio, but for Pasadena itself.  

On Thursday locals got to attend the premiere of four short films created by the winners of the Big Hears competition. Each highlighted a Pasadena-based charity. The films were made essentially as a fundraiser for the Pasadena Community Foundation. A genius move, since the event raised $200,000 for PCF and resulted in $2,500 grants distributed to nine area non-profits. 

“We are excited to have been able to be a part of this event and celebrated these powerful stories of ‘doing good in Pasadena,” said Jennifer DeVol, CEO of the Pasadena Community Foundation. “We are proud of our collaboration with Alibaba Pictures and look forward to seeing these stories shared.” 

Among the judges was filmmaker Steven Spielberg. He applauded the partnership between studio and charity and praised the young filmmakers. 

As for Alibaba President Wei Zhang, she said she hoped the event would inspire others to do their part for local non-profits. 

“These filmmakers have shown a true dedication to telling the compelling stories of Pasadena-area non-profits. Out hope is that this project inspired 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 the partnership and to positively contribute to all of the great organizations involved.” 

Speaking for myself here, I loved the films I saw at the event Thursday. It seemed most of the sold-out crowd at the Huntington Museum did too. Let’s hope that this is the beginning of many good things to happen in Pasadena now that Alibaba has settled in.  


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Frank C. Girardot is the CEO of Pegasus Communications and publisher of The Hub. Reach him via email at


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