By Michael Gavino
If you are disgusted by the problems in the world today, but believe one person can’t make a difference, you need to meet Elizabeth English. With little more than a dream to build a film festival that improves the world, Ms. English has built the Moondance International Film Festival into one of the most important festivals in the world. If you ever get the chance to talk to Ms. English, you would see how this is possible. This weekend on September 7,8, and 9th you can see the fruit of Ms. English’s efforts as The Moondance International Film Festival comes to Universal Studios City Walk Cinemas.
I had the honor of talking to Ms. English as she was driving through Nevada heading towards LA. The story of how Moondance started is almost as amazing as Ms. English herself. Originally an interior designer for high worth individuals (including Saudi Royals), Ms. English got to meet Kevin Costner. Impressed with her knowledge of Native American culture, Kevin hired her to be a technical consultant on a little film called Dances with Wolves.
When the film was released, Ms. English was impressed with how the film helped combat negative stereotypes of Native America. She realized film could help combat other negative stereotypes as well. Seeing too many negative portrayals of women, Ms. English decided to create a film festival dedicated to improving the image of women by entertaining, informing, encouraging, and educating.
As there was already a Sundance, she decided to call her festival Moondance. She sent a call for women filmmakers to send in their films and Moondance was born.
From those humble beginnings, Moondance has grown exponentially. In fact one online poll of industry professionals placed Moondance third after Cannes and Sundance in a list of the most important film festivals.
As Moondance has grown it has evolved. In addition to it’s original goal of helping women, the festival also seeks films that encourage non-violent conflict resolution and environmental responsibility. The festival now accepts submissions from both men and women, as long as they don’t run afoul of the festival goals.
Two years ago, the continued growth of the festival caused Ms. English to move Moondance from her beloved Boulder, Colorado to Los Angeles. Last year it was held at Raleigh Studios, but once again it outgrew it’s venue. This year it will be held at Universal Studios City Walk Cinemas.
This year’s festival promises to be the best one yet. There are films and filmmakers from all over the world dealing with topics ranging form the death penalty to the role of women in modern society. There will also be a slew of workshops taught by some of the top professionals in the industry, including workshops on developing scripts, navigating Hollywood, and opportunities to pitch your projects to industry professionals. In addition, there will be parties at some of the top restaurants in LA.
On top of this, there will be many celebrities walking around the festival including Robert Culp form the groundbreaking I Spy series, Barry Corbin, and Tristan Rogers from General Hospital.
If you are serious about films, make it a point to incorporate the Moondance International Film Festival into your weekend plans.
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Written by Staff Writer