Moondance film fest relocates to Mystic

Giancarlo Esposito, of TV's "Breaking Bad" and "Revolution," will appear at September's Moondance film festival in Mystic.
Giancarlo Esposito, of TV's "Breaking Bad" and "Revolution," will appear at September's Moondance film festival in Mystic. Lionel Cironneau/AP Photo

The Moondance International Film Festival, which has run since 2000 in Boulder, Colorado, is moving to a new home: Mystic.

Founder Elizabeth English, who lives in Colorado, had been looking for a new site and considered Mystic a potential location. Then, Stonington resident and filmmaker Hans Hartman contacted her via Linked In, seeking advice about starting a film festival in southeastern Connecticut. The two now are collaborating on Moondance's 2013 event, which will be held here Sept. 26-29.

Screenings will happen in Olde Mistick Village Art Cinemas. Workshops, networking events and other programs might be held at such venues as the Mystic Aquarium and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Hartman says.

English and Hartman say that expected to come to Moondance are Giancarlo Esposito, who starred as Gus on "Breaking Bad" and Tom Neville in "Revolution," and Linda Vilhjalmsdottir, line producer for "Game of Thrones," who will give a class line producing.

Hartman says there will be about 100 screenings of independent films and movies that are from "mini-major studios." Shorts and feature-length films will both be included. At this point, submissions have been received from 60 countries.

English says that one of Moondance's primary aims to "make the world a better place through film. I know that's an idealistic goal, but I know it can happen. I've seen a difference, how people watch films and television, and they have their perceptions changed and they take action, or they think about things in a different way."

Another goal, she says, is "bringing women to the forefront of the industry, both in front of and behind the cameras."

Asked why she wanted to move Moondance out of Boulder, English says she didn't want to say anything negative but noted she didn't have the support there that she's already seen in Mystic. After visiting and meeting a lot of people here who offered financial and personal assistance, she says, "I was just walking on air."

Hartman says, "Every single person I've spoken with has been so supportive of what we're doing and realizes this is not just an event - it's a community builder."

As for movies that have been screened at previous Moondances, Hartman mentions "Oil on Ice," a documentary about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; "Ruby Blue," which stars Bob Hoskins; and "As If I Am Not There," which is set in the Balkans.

This year's Moondance will feature, in addition to screenings, a film market, where people involved in movies can connect. Panel discussions will be held, too, on such topics as building film financing strategies; film distribution; and getting children into the movie business.

Hartman, by the way, happens to have gotten into show business when he was a child. His mother was a writer for the original "Star Trek," and he recalls hanging out on the CBS sets of "Get Smart" and "Family Affair."

"I learned a real appreciation for being on set," he says.

After acting onstage and in some TV and film projects, he decided, at age 17 or 18, that "there are a lot more jobs behind the camera, and it's a lot more fun for me."

He shot some of his own films in Florida in the 1990s and then moved to Stonington in 2002. He shot two movies here - "Crippled Creek" and "Profile."

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