Beam Me Up

Ever hear of something called the Sundance Film Festival, a little gathering that Bob Redford started up in the hills of Utah a few decades ago?

It caught on, and now everyone who can afford a fringed buckskin jacket and a private jet heads to Sundance in hopes of hightailing it from there to Hollywood.

Elizabeth England took note of Sundance's success, too, and what she saw concerned her. Year after year, the festival's winners were always men. Not to knock the old Sundance Kid and his posse, but female directors deserved a place, too, she decided. And so five years ago, England introduced the Moondance International Film Festival in Boulder.

"At first I just wanted to showcase women's films," she remembers. And there was also that emphasis on "non-violent conflict resolution." (Sorry, Quentin T.) After a couple of years, though, England found that guys wanted to crash the party. So she opened the competition to men's works, also.

This year's Moondance festival, which runs from Thursday, May 27, through Sunday, May 30, features screenings of more than fifty flicks -- documentaries, features, shorts and animation -- from around the globe, as well as workshops and parties. And just because films by testosterone types are now included doesn't mean that Moondance has strayed from its roots; "non-violent" is still the watchword. But the lack of gore hasn't hampered the festival's success: Many of the films that earn Moondance awards make their way into the hands of distributors. "We've become recognized as very high-quality," England notes.

While she won't tip her hand about this year's hot prospects, she admits that she's excited about Phantom, a ninety-minute feature made by a female director in Slovenia that's a gripping exploration of death -- sans dialogue. The R-rated work (alas, frontal nudity) screens at 9 p.m. Friday, May 28, at the Flatirons Theater, 1089 13th Street.

Just don't come expecting the hoity-toity scene of Cannes, the glitz of a Hollywood premiere or even the hustle of Sundance. "Dress is very casual," England says. "It's Boulder."

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Ernie Tucker
Contact: Ernie Tucker