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Arlington Lawyer Moonlights as Award-Winning Filmmaker

If you were to create a list of professions least likely to count an award-winning creator of abstract and experimental films among their ranks, lawyers would probably rank just below accountants.

But Clarendon resident H. Paul Moon is not your average government lawyer. He’s a composer, playwright and blogger who only recently added filmmaking to his list of side-projects. Earlier this month, he became an “award-winning” filmmaker at Arlington’s Rosebud Film and Video Festival.

Moon won the festival’s “Best of Show” award for El Toro, a short experimental film that seeks to make a visual connection between Spanish bullfighting and the passion of the Christ.

Armed with “modest” video equipment during a trip to Madrid, Moon attended a bullfight in the Plaza de Toros, a violent experience he says he does not want to repeat. Several months after returning home, Moon found inspiration and decided to turn his travel video into a film.

“I juxtaposed those bloody bullfighting scenes with carefully composed shots inside Madrid’s central cathedral, and heavily processed my edit with light manipulation and other visual effects to create a sort of dream-like meditation set to music,” he said. Then, one year after his trip, the Rosebud judges bestowed “an unexpected an encouraging honor” — the festival’s top prize.

“This was the first festival screening that I ever received since starting to make films 1-1/2 years ago,” Moon said.

It will almost certainly not be his last. Moon has continued cranking out experimental/environmental/landscape films inspired by his extensive international travels. In addition to the abstract and non-narrative, he has also been working on documentaries that profile performing artists.

Currently, Moon says he’s hard at work on a “biographical portrait of the American composer Samuel Barber.” The choice of documentary subject reflects the fact that Moon — a prolific creator of art — is also a voracious consumer of art.

“When something fascinates me, now I can’t stop myself from making a project out of it,” he said.

El Toro currently is not available online, but you can watch some of Moon’s other films here.

Photos from El Toro courtesy of H. Paul Moon

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