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Mystic - Every good movie needs coming attractions, so here's a preview for today's Moondance International Film Festival:
Workshops on everything from child acting to editing.
A talk by Keith Dorrington, one of the screenwriters of "The Fighter."
A networking party at Bravo Bravo.
And, of course, lots and lots of movies. All day, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Olde Mistick Village Art Cinemas. With some of those releases, the directors will be on hand to take questions afterward.
On Friday, Olde Mistick Village Cinemas already was buzzing with activity. On one screen popped an animated film, with a futuristic robot searching for water. On another, a live-action drama delved into a story of children caught up in the tumult in Zimbabwe.
In the cinema's lobby, filmmaker Sam Roberts - whose film "a fish story" is tonight's main feature - was picking up tickets.
Across the street at The Boathouse restaurant, filmmaker Ari Gold and his twin brother, composer Ethan Gold, were being interviewed on camera for a festival press kit. Their movie, "Adventures of Power," was set to screen later Friday at the Olde Mistick Village cinemas.
It was all in a day's movie-appreciation experience at Moondance.
Moondance has been in existence for a dozen years, out in Boulder, Colo., where founder Elizabeth English lives. She began contemplating relocating Moondance - and had considered Mystic. What sealed the deal was when Stonington resident and filmmaker Hans Hartman happened to contact her, asking for advice on starting a festival here. They both worked to bring Moondance to Mystic this year. It runs through Sunday.
Roberts' "a fish story" will be screened at 7 p.m. today.
Roberts, who wrote, produced and stars in the piece, said, "It's the end of our festival run, and I can't think of a more fitting ending to our festival run than to finish where it all started. In 2008, I was honored with the best screenplay (at Moondance), and this year, we're being honored for best film."
The storyline: A father dies unexpectedly, and he searches for heaven - a journey that brings him back to his family and their lakeside cabin. He returns, though, in the body of a wanted man.
Roberts wrote the first draft back in 1986 but then put it aside for a while. He's been working consistently on the project since 2007. "a fish story" won the best film, actor and actress awards at the Burbank International Film Festival and the best director and best foreign (Canadian) film at the International Family Film Festival in Hollywood.
"It's a healing movie - it's about love and family and hope and faith and redemption," Roberts said. "It's based on a true story about my father, with a little 'wouldn't it be wonderful if' thrown in - how wonderful would it be to bring him back? So I do."
In addition to honoring his father, Roberts wanted to tell a story that had a moral compass. He said "a fish story" has no blood, no sex, no violence, no bad language and no nudity.
Roberts, who will lead a workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. today and do a Q&A after tonight's screening, said that he believes that festivals are a great way to get a true filmgoer's reaction.
"a fish story" is one of about 100 films featured in the 2013 Moondance fest, chosen by English from 500 submissions.
In addition, several works are being shown outside of the official Moondance competition. Among them is Ari Gold's "Adventures of Power," about a guy striving to win an air-drumming contest. Its official website describes it as "Rocky for everyone who ever wanted to play music.'
Interviewed by Wayne Soares for Moondance, Gold said that he finds air drumming funny but that the movie is more than that.
"I think 'Adventures of Power' is a perfect metaphor for the struggle to make something out of nothing in life," he said.
The idea of the film is, he said, that "music and the heartbeat of life is inside you, and you don't need externals to let music flow through you, let life flow through you."
He also discussed the laborious process of making a movie. It can take two to four years of seven-days-a-week work. "No one outside the business knows how insanely hard it is. ... You have to be masochistic and incredibly persistent," he said.
Workshops on screenwriting and casting had been planned Friday at the Velvet Mill in Stonington, but Rabbi Moshe Mones, who was scheduled to lead both, was hospitalized, according to English. He is, though, expected to be at Sunday's 2 p.m. screening of his movie "Dovid Meyer: The Orphan from Jerusalem."