May the stars shine upon you; 
may nature fill 
your heart with beauty; 
may hope forever be in your heart; and, 
and above all
, may this new year be wonderful for you. The new year is the time to 
reach toward new horizons & realize your  dreams, 
to rediscover the strengths & talents within you, 
to rejoice in simple pleasures, and to gear up for new challenges. 
Wishing you a truly fulfilling, prosperous, healthy, peaceful  and happy 2014! ~ Elizabeth


Happy New Year, and may 2014 be your best year ever! Thank you for your continued support of Moondance, and may all your New Year’s wishes come true!


S C R O L L  • O N  • D O W N  • T O •  R E A D  • A B O U T :











(in order of preference)








JUNE 30, 2014

Thanks a million for all the fine early-bird submissions! 


M O O N D A N C E  •  2 0 13 •  Y E A R – E N D  • W R A P – U P :

The year started off with a bang, while working on Moondance 2013, our 14th season, and as I was invited to tour lovely Chaing Rai, Thailand for two weeks and a visit Singapore for a few days in January, in order to research and experience (for writing a commissioned feature screenplay, THE WAYFARER) the different aspects of the two countries, the people, traditions, food, temples, cultures, landscapes, and to study Buddhist philosophy. With my gracious and generous guides in Bangkok and Chiang Rai, I was able to visit a vast tea plantation and learned how to pick tea by the mountain folks, plant rice in a rice paddy, ride in a traditional Thai long-boat on the Mekong River between Thailand and Laos, play with elephants and an 8’ white python. I visited many Buddhist temples and was given a blessing by a Thai monk at the Golden Temple, gathered sacred Bodhi tree leaves, ate delicious Thai food every day, watched Thai dancers and traditional music, learned some of the language, and to appreciate cultural differences in various regions of this beautiful, peaceful country.


 In Singapore, a huge, bustling and modern metropolis, much different from peaceful, rural northern Thailand, I visited the marinas and country clubs of the very wealthy, high-rise downtown, and rode the speedy monorail over the harbor to the Disney-esque aquarium and entertainment park on an island.

In April, while still working on Moondance submissions, and finishing the Buddhist screenplay, I received a commission to research and write a feature screenplay about the homeless people and their culture and lifestyles. Next, I visited the historic seaside village of Mystic, Connecticut in June, to see if it was a good fit for the Moondance film festival events. While there, I toured Old Mistick Village, the cinema, various venues for the event, Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport, the local vineyards, ate lots of fresh, local seafood, and spent a lovely day in the nearby old seafaring village of Stonington and its historic lighthouse. Meanwhile, our talented webster, Kelly B., who lives in Buenos Aires, built us a new and state-of-the art Moondance website. 

In mid-September, right after celebrating my mother’s 99th birthday with her, and as I was preparing to leave for New York and Connecticut the next morning, Boulder experienced its disastrous “100-Year Flood”, with torrential rains and major flooding and damage, and 18-24 inches of rain in only a few hours, with many people and whole towns evacuated, downtown Boulder shut down, roads closed, rivers and creeks over their banks, electricity out, and some homes and lives lost in the disaster. It took a week for me to get the water out of my basement, dry it out, throw out damaged items, and clean up the mess, thereby delaying my trip to Mystic until just a day before the film festival began. But Moondance 2013 took place in Mystic in September, many Moondancers attended and enjoyed the films, workshops and networking parties, and new friends were made, especially Jim & Leslie S., Wendy V. B., and Daniel D., and others. I was very happy to meet old friends, too: Joseph & Sandra C., Marc & Marla H., and Sam R., all of them award-winning filmmakers. I took a week’s relaxing vacation on Long Island, NY, after the event, and had a wonderful visit there with my three sons, their wives, and my four grandchildren, and going to the beaches as often as possible.

Back in Boulder in early October, I continued to work on the homeless screenplay story, and was then contacted by a Moondance-winning filmmaker, Chris N., about holding an adjunct Moondance event in China in 2015. Plans were made, emails and phone calls exchanged, proposals put together, official invitation and travel visa received, tickets sent, and in December, I went to Tongxiang, China, via Shanghai. I was met there by the Moondance filmmaker, as well as by my official “minder”, translator and guide, and spent 10 days in meetings and gatherings with many Chinese officials in various departments, such as tourism, cultural exchange, the top men in the local government, and so on.


EE & Mr. Lu at Official banquet

EE & Mr. Lu at Official banquet

Every evening, large and small banquets were held in my honor, with strange and unusual (to me) Chinese foods and teas. Eating with chopsticks at every meal can certainly be an adventure, but the whole turtle I was served at one banquet was refused, in disgust. I was treated like a queen by everyone I met, calling me “Madame”, and with much bowing and deference, which was very unexpected in this Communist country.

A day-long visit to the ancient town of Wuzhen, also known as the “Venice of China”, because of the many canals and wooden boats for transportation, was a highlight of my trip, and very much enjoyed. In Wuzhen, I was shown how they make patterned indigo cloth in traditional ways, visited a traditional apothecary for ancient herbal teas for medicines, how silkworms spin silk, and how it’s cleaned and spun into cloth, bought a hand-painted fan from a master Chinese fan-maker, and had green tea in a garden by a 1000 year-old stone arched bridge over a canal. There is a fabulous, state-of-the-arts theater in the town, and many classic, elegant hotels and old, traditional inns right on the canals.

A typical canal in Wuzhen, China

A typical canal in Wuzhen, China

An award-winning Chinese film director-producer’s acquisitions partner requested two of my feature screenplays, IN THE REALM OF EMERALD LIGHT and MEN OF STONE, for possible adaptations of them for Chinese locations and characters. And a pleasant and informative visit to a couple of old Buddhist temples, as well as multiple caves with 1000+ year-old stone statues of the Buddha, an afternoon leisurely boat ride and lunch on a lovely lake, and a traditional tea ceremony with a smiling and serene monk, rounded out my fascinating stay in China, even though I didn’t get to fly a kite from the Great Wall of China, after all. I’m happy to say that I made several new friends in China, especially my Chinese women guides, assistants, and translators, Amy, Angela and Scarlett. The visit to China for Moondance was subsequently featured In an article in the Los Angeles-based China Biz News, by the owner-publisher, who also accompanied us in China.

Guide, Chris, EE & Amy, Wuzhen, China, photo: Barry Su

Guide, Chris, EE & Amy, Wuzhen, China, photo: Barry Su

Back in Boulder, once again, I completed the screenplay for the homeless story, QUID PRO QUO, and handed it in to the client, who loved it. A local entrepreneur and businessman plans to co-finance a Boulder café just like the one in the script, and my agent is currently actively promoting it to producers for film and television. So…wish me luck in this new year, the Chinese Year of the Horse (my Chinese Zodiac sign is the Water Horse)!

Meanwhile, the 2013 year-end holidays have come and gone, and Moondance 2014 submissions are coming in, I’m enjoying previewing the films and reading the screenplays, and look forward to many more. Plans are in the works for the next Moondance International Film Festival. Moondance has been warmly invited to hold the 2014 festival in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tongxiang, Wuzhen, several different towns in Connecticut and on the North Shore of Long Island, but will most likely take place, once again, in beautiful Boulder, Colorado

Cheers & Best Wishes for a Very Happy New Year to All!~~ Elizabeth

SMALL STARFISH O F   • I N T E R E S T :  W O M E N •  I N  • F I L M

Best Women-Directed Films of 2013



Women and Hollywood will run our own “Best of” lists to honor and celebrate the year’s best women-directed and women-centric movies and TV shows. See our previous posts on the “Best Women-Directed Documentaries of 2013,” the “Best Women-Centric Films of 2013,” and the “Most Popular Women and Hollywood Posts of 2013.”

Yes, 2013 was another terrible year for women directors, which makes the commemoration of great work by female filmmakers all-the-more important. We’ve compiled below seven great films from women this year, as well as five honorable mentions. Noteworthily, six of the seven films are about women — a sign that the gender of the person behind the camera is pretty damn important when it comes to what kind of protagonists and stories we see on screen. Also worth mentioning is that only two of the seven are American films — a reflection of the ongoing, entrenched sexism in Hollywood. But we also must note that another two films came from fairly repressive societies — Saudi Arabia and the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel — an indication of the feminist progress that goes around the world every day. Here are our favorite women-directed films of 2013 in alphabetical order: 

Enough Said – Nicole Holofcener

Fill the Void – Rama Burshtein

Hannah Arendt – Margarethe von Trotta

In a World… – Lake Bell

Love is All You Need – Susanne Bier

The Selfish Giant – Clio Barnard

Wadjda – Haifaa al-Mansour

SMALL STARFISH W R I T E R S :  • W R I T E  • W H A T  • Y O U •  K N O W !

By Elizabeth English

“A good writer needs to know what it’s like, and “it” can be just about anything. We have far too many writers today who have never ridden a horse, or fired a gun, or sharpened a knife, or fought with their fists, or been shot at. And so on and so on.” ~ Gene Wolfe, science fiction & fantasy writer, interview in a Barnes & Noble book review

“Write what you know” is the vital, traditional message for all fiction and non-fiction writers, screenwriters, playwrights and journalists. You need to know the details, the visuals, the emotions, the reactions to events, and the totality of the experience, in order to write coherently about a subject, and action, a character and his or her dialog, and for your reader, or audience to relate to the story, the character, the emotions, and the action.


“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.” ~ William Shakespeare

If you don’t know anything, or very little, about a subject, do deep research, learn about it from others, ask an expert, read about it online or in books, go experience it yourself, pay attention as you go through your daily life, listen and look, remember what you’ve seen, heard, learned and experienced with all five (or six) of your senses, then use it in your writing. It’s a vital element of your “job” as a writer. You would never be hired by any company, if you didn’t know anything about the job and had no experience in the work required!

Ernst Hemingway in Key West, FL

Ernest Hemingway in Key West

Expand your knowledge and your experiences beyond your desk and computer. Go on out there and see the real world, watch and listen to other people, experience other events than you usually do. Learn to tango, ride a horse, go to a rodeo, cook a foreign dish, go for a long hike in the woods, join a political group, plant an organic garden, build a snow sculpture or sand castle, ask elderly folks to tell their stories, surf the waves, write a song, swim with wild dolphins, visit with the elderly in a nursing home, learn how to paddle a canoe, practice yoga, learn to meditate, go fishing, shop at a farmer’s market, volunteer to work with an environmental group or at the Humane Society, attend a lecture, go to a museum, a circus, an art gallery or a zoo, study improv acting, travel to a foreign country, play hide-and-seek with a child, listen to teenagers to learn their lingo, sit in on an Al-Anon meeting, pick apples from a tree, chat with some homeless folks, go on an archaeological expedition, and, above all, remember and watch, listen and learn, use your past experiences, discover your roots. Don’t just rely on movies, TV, social media and the Internet for your writing…that’s not necessarily real life!


Screenwriters absolutely need to know how movies are made, what goes into the project, the budget considerations, and how and why scripts are selected by agents, investors, producers, directors and actors. You also need to know what story, style and subject matter different potential clients want to see. A script is merely a story, a blueprint for a film. Imagine an architect designing a building properly, if he or she knows nothing at all about what the client wants, the details, the budget, and how the blueprint is ultimately selected by the client, is paid for, and how it’s built by the contractors!

To learn how and why a script is selected and made into a movie, a TV show, or a stageplay, you can volunteer to work as an intern at a production company. Read scripts that have been rejected or successfully produced, or have won Oscars®, and pay attention to why they work or don’t work. You can audition for a part in a film or show, even as an extra, or apply for work on the crew. Produce and direct your own short film! Attend professional workshops and seminars on writing and filmmaking. Attend film festivals.  Networking is another very important method of learning about the film business from all aspects, and for getting your work and talents noticed.

 Most importantly, keep writing and experiencing as many varied aspects of life as you can! Write in different genres to expand your knowledge and talents. Are you a writer of drama? Write a great comedy! Romance writer? Write a scary mystery or an action story. Sci-fi writer? Write a contemporary romance or drama. Have at least 3 to 5 completed, edited and polished screenplays to show. Create fabulous titles, loglines and one-page synopses for all of them. And get an agent, any agent. How to get an agent? Look for the article on this subject in the next Moondance news-blog!


M O O N D A N C E  •  R E C O M M E N D S :


Birds are important indicators of the overall health of our environment. Like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, they send an urgent warning about threats to our water, air, natural resources, climate and more. Audubon’s unprecedented analysis of forty years of bird population data from Christmas Bird Count and Breeding Bird Survey reveals alarming declines for many of our most common and beloved birds.

Since 1967 the average population for the common birds in steepest decline has fallen 68 percent, from 17.6 million to 5.35 million. Some species have nose-dived as much as 80 percent, and all 20 birds included in the Common Birds in Decline report have lost at least 50 percent of their population – in just four decades. More than 800 bird species occur within the United States. With limited time and resources available to protect them, it is vital to know which species are at greatest risk.

It is especially important to identify at-risk bird species before their populations become so small that protecting them from extinction is costly, in every sense of the word. One quarter of U.S. birds need our help to keep them from slipping toward extinction. Read more




A  • M O O N D A N C E R  •  W R I T E S  • U S :


BOLD NEBRASKA is a group of farmers, ranchers, doctors and homemakers fighting to preserve their landowner rights, water, ecology, and plain old pride, against the megacorp behind the Keystone XL pipeline project. The TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline proposes to run it through hundreds of Nebraska homes, farms and ranches, crossing the delicate Sandhills, and putting the critical Ogallala Aquifer at great risk. They are fighting the good fight to oppose a pipeline that will carry – and spill –  some of the most polluting fossil fuel known to humankind! If everyone donates even $5.00, the Bold Nebraska support-base will triple. (http://boldnebraska.org/build) ~ Earl James, Moondance 2013 feature screenplay finalist

Sandhill Cranes, Nebraska

Sandhill Cranes, Nebraska


S O M E   • T H I N G S   •  T O  • T H I N K  •  A B O U T :


“When we see the land as a community to which we all belong, we may begin to use it with more love and respect.” ~ Aldo Leopold


“Every moment of your life is infinitely creative, and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you.” ~ Shakti Gawain, author, “Creative Visualization”


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