Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
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First-Place Winner, November 2007 – April 2008
Screenplay Contest - Full-Length Series

"The Shanghailanders"

Written by Craig Rosenthal
Craig Rosenthal
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Craig Rosenthal is a screenwriter living in the Peoples Republic of China. He recently wrote and directed a short film called the "The Trainee" that was hit on the festival circuit garnering numerous awards around the world.

His latest project is called “The Shanghailanders”, which is inspired by just one of the many true stories he has stumbled across while living in Shanghai.

Over the next few years, he plans on discovering and developing more epic stories from China yet to be told to the world.

WEBSITE: http://thetrainee.blogspot.com
EMAIL: hellocraigrosenthal@gmail.com
CELL: +86 21 158 21 66 43 66

LOGLINE

This is the story of one man as he journeys almost 5000 miles to Shanghai. But then, ironically, he has to take an even bigger journey from intolerance to acceptance when his daughter falls in love with the culture of Asia and also a young man here.

SYNOPSIS

It’s 1939 and most countries have closed their borders to Jews fleeing Europe. Only one option remains open. But it’s a long shot and it is a long way away. Inspired by true events, this is the story of one man as he journeys with his family over 5,000 miles to Shanghai. Although he faces many challenges along the way, by far his greatest is with himself when his daughter falls in love with Asia and a young man living in Shanghai. Is it possible that a Jewish man can overcome the same kind of intolerance that he too was escaping from in Europe?

SCRIPT FOLLOWS

FADE IN:

EXT. VIENNA SKYLINE – BEFORE DAWN

A silhouette of the Vienna skyline circa 1939.

SUPERIMPOSE: BY 1939, MOST COUNTRIES, INCLUDING AMERICA AND BRITAIN, HAD CLOSED THEIR
BORDERS TO JEWS LOOKING FOR REFUGE.

A beat.

FEW OPTIONS REMAINED OPEN.

INT. CAR – BEFORE DAWN

A nervous hand wears the gold off a fob watch. This is the hand of MAX WEISMAN, 48, the man waiting behind the wheel.

He doesn’t look like the sort of man who would ever get into a fight, but his face shows fresh cuts and bruises.

EXT. WEISMAN HOUSE – BEFORE DAWN

SUPERIMPOSE: VIENNA, JULY 1939

In an affluent suburb, the front door of a house opens and Max Weisman’s FAMILY come down the stairs.

First MAYAN, 19, lugging a suitcase and a violin case.

Then his son KURT, 18, walks down with his luggage.

And finally, his wife ANNA, 39, quietly closes the front door and takes one last look at the family home.

Max gets out to load the luggage onto the already overloaded car. The trunk is full and inside the car the family members nurse their luggage on their laps.

A decision needs to be made on what should be left behind.

Max takes the violin case from Mayan.

             MAX
       (whispering)
I said pack only what you need.

             MAYAN
I need this.

             MAX
Leave it.

             MAYAN
       (quite loud)
No!

Max looks down the street to check if anyone has heard.

             MAX
Please. It will be here when we
return home.

Mayan hands her father the case.

Max walks back to the house with the violin and another case. Tellingly, half way up the front stairs he abandons it rather than putting it back inside.

INT. CAR – BEFORE DAWN

No one says a word inside the car.

EXT. VIENNA CENTRAL STATION – DAWN

The car pulls up near a Vienna Central Station sign.

GERMAN GUARDS can be seen patrolling the station.

As the family unloads their luggage, Max sees another FAMILY waiting across at the taxi stand.

He gets out the registration papers from the glove compartment and approaches this family.

             MAX
Good morning. Been waiting long for a taxi?

A price is agreed. Money and keys exchange hands.

The Weismans watch their car drive off. Max puts the money in his wallet.

INT. VIENNA CENTRAL STATION – DAWN

The family boards the train.

INT. TRAIN – DAY

The family is seated in the first-class compartment.

Max looks around and notices that most of the other passengers are also JEWISH FAMILIES much like his own. He nods politely to a JEWISH MAN.

Time passes on the train as the light changes from dawn to a bright summer day.

Little is said.

TITLE: THE SHANGHAILANDERS

A beat.

SUPERIMPOSE: BASED ON TRUE EVENTS

INT. TRAIN – DAY

A single Austrian banknote flutters outside the train window. Then another one is seen.

Max stands and leans out the window to take a closer look.

EXT. TRAIN – DAY

Max sees many hands come out of the train window and release banknotes.

He then turns his head the other direction and sees the train approaching a checkpoint.

INT. TRAIN – DAY

Max looks at another JEWISH MAN releasing money out the window.

             JEWISH MAN
If you are caught with more than 20 Austrian
Schilling they won’t let you cross.

Max takes his wallet from his pocket. It is stuffed with the banknotes from the earlier sale of the car.

He divides up the money between his family, leaving just 20 Schillings in his wallet.

EXT. TRAIN – DAY

Their hands reach out the window to release the banknotes.

INT. TRAIN – DAY

LEONG KAIMING, or KAI as his European friends call him, watches the Weismans throw away their money. He is a Chinese man in his early twenties.

EXT. TRIESTE TRAIN STATION, ITALY – NIGHT

The Weismans get off, followed by Kai carrying his violin case.

EXT. TRIESTE PORT, ITALY – DAY

Next day, the Weismans board a ship called the CONTE BIANCAMANO.

EXT. CONTE BIANCAMANO – SUNSET

The family is on deck as the ship leaves port. They watch their old life disappear as the sun sets on the horizon.

INT. DINING ROOM – NIGHT

An ITALIAN SHIP STEWARD escorts the Weismans, who are dressed for dinner, to their table in the first-class dining room.

Seated at this table is the ABRAHAM FAMILY. They look about the same ages as the Weisman family. The head of this family, WARNER, has a loud and generous personality.

             WARNER
       (standing)
Good evening. I am Warner Abraham. This
is my wife Ingrid. And our son Benjamin.

             MAX
And I am Dr. Max Weisman. My wife, Anna,
our daughter, Mayan, and Kurt, our son.

             WARNER
You are Jewish also?

             MAX
We are.

             WARNER
And you are going to Shanghai?

             MAX
Yes.

             WARNER
Very good! Now at least we can say that
we know people in Shanghai.

Benjamin smiles at Maya.

INT. MAYAN & KURT’S CABIN – DAY

Next morning in a first-class, twin-berth cabin, Mayan and Kurt are sleeping.

A violin is heard being tuned in an adjoining cabin.

Mayan’s eyes blink open.

INT. KAI’S CABIN – DAY

Kai tunes his violin and adjusts his sheet music.

MUSIC REFERENCE: As a guide there is violin piece called THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS CONCERTO by Chen Gang & He Zhanhao Shanghai Conservatory (copyright 1959).

He then begins the violin part of THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS CONCERTO. Kai is clearly very talented.

INT. MAYAN & KURT’S CABIN – DAY

Mayan sits up in bed and listens.

INT. MAX & ANNA’S CABIN – DAY

Max sits reading the newspaper, while Anna unpacks their trunks.

They both hear Kai practicing. Anna hums the melody as she unpacks.


INT. LOUNGE – DAY

Max and Warner sit playing chess. The peculiar thing about Warner is that he is wearing his overcoat inside the lounge.

             WARNER
       (looking at Max’s bruised face)
So you were arrested also?

Max doesn’t answer. He self-consciously touches his face.

             WARNER (CONT’D)
It’s none of my business. If you’d rather
not talk about it I understand.

Still, Max remains silent.

             WARNER
I hide mine better than you.

Warner leans forward, pulls back his hair and reveals a scar.

             WARNER (CONT’D)
My Ingrid and Benjamin took turns queueing outside the American and British embassies for visas so I could be released.

             MAX
But they would only take your children.

             WARNER
Britain would. But Benjamin was already too old.

             MAX
So Shanghai …

             WARNER
Yes. They’ll let anyone in. Even you.

They both laugh.

             MAX
Is it that bad? Maybe it would be better to stay in Europe and wait and see what happens.


             WARNER
I don’t know. The world won’t sit back and watch. I’m sure it will be over soon.

             MAX
Yes, surely.

INT. MAYAN & KURT’S CABIN – DAY

Another day, Mayan sits at a desk writing in her daily. Kurt lies in bed asleep.

Again the tuning of a violin begins.

INT. KAI’S CABIN – DAY

Kai practices THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS CONCERTO.

INT. MAYAN & KURT’S CABIN – DAY

Mayan stops writing and puts down her pen.

She leans back in her chair and closes her eyes.

INT. KAI’S CABIN – DAY

Kai finishes the piece, puts down his violin and leaves his cabin.

INT. MAYAN & KURT’S CABIN – DAY

Mayan hears the violin stop and then a beat later the sound of the adjacent cabin door opening.

She opens her own cabin door an inch and watches Kai walk down the corridor.

             KURT
       (sitting up in bed)
What are you doing?

             MAYAN
Shhh! Nothing. Just watching a
waiter deliver breakfast.

INT. CORRIDOR – DAY

Mayan leaves her cabin and knocks on Kai’s door.

No answer.

She puts her ear against his door.

Max walks around the corner.

             MAX
Mayan!

             MAX
Didn’t you hear the music?

             MAX
Not this morning.

             MAYAN
I think it was coming from this cabin.

             MAX
You better get dressed.

Mayan looks down and realizes she is still in her nightdress.

INT. CINEMA – DAY

Benjamin is sitting alone in the cinema. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (copyright 1935) is playing.

He notices Mayan walk in and take a seat. She doesn’t see him.

Benjamin gets up from his seat and sits next to Mayan.

They exchange a smile.

INT. CORRIDOR – DAY

Another day, Mayan is listening to the music outside Kai’s door. She knocks and waits.

Kai opens the door with one hand holding his bow, while the other balances his violin.

Mayan stares at Kai a moment too long.

             MAYAN
Wrong cabin. Sorry.

Shocked, Mayan can’t think of anything to do but run off down the corridor. Bewildered, Kai watches her go.

EXT. PROMENADE DECK – DAY

Mayan is sitting on a deck chair reading. Kai walks by looking for a free deck chair.

Mayan slides down in her deck chair and tries to hide behind her diary.

Kai sees a free chair at the far end of the deck so he walks towards it.

             FEMALE PASSENGER
       (German accent)
That chair is reserved.

Kai walks towards another deck chair closer to Mayan.

             MALE PASSENGER
       (British accent)
Occupied, I’m afraid.

Mayan pushes off the book from the occupied chair next to her and calls out to Kai.

             MAYAN
This chair is now free.

Some of the other passengers nearby give her sideways glances.

             KAI
(in perfect English)
Thank you.

Awkward silence.

             MAYAN
Yes.

             KAI
Yes?

             MAYAN
Yes, I’m embarrassed about this morning.

             KAI
I thought you were going to complain
about the noise.

They both smile.

             MAYAN
That’s quite beautiful noise you make.

             KAI
I was studying violin in Vienna.

             MAYAN
Are you going home?

             KAI
Europe’s no longer safe. So, my father thought I should.

             MAYAN
What about your music?

             KAI
I’ll continue at the Shanghai Conservatory.

             MAYAN
I play also. Not like you, more for, well … just when I feel like it.

Max returns to find his seat taken by a strange Chinese man talking to his daughter.

Mayan has given away her father’s seat to Kai, so she stands and gives him hers.

             MAYAN
Goodbye neighbor.

             KAI
I’m Kai.

             MAYAN
I’m Mayan.

             KAI
Goodbye.

Mayan leaves Max and Kai sitting together. They both exchange sideway glances.

INT. LOUNGE – NIGHT

Max enters and sees Warner having a drink. As usual, he is wearing his heavy overcoat.

             MAX
You must be hot.

             WARNER
Sit down. I’m just trying to acclimatize to the weather in the Far East.

             MAX
You know how to plan ahead.

             WARNER
(calling to the waiter)
Waiter … another.

             MAX
So what are your plans in Shanghai?

             WARNER
I used to own a store along KaerntnerStrasse.

             MAX
I know it well.

             WARNER
It was confiscated, then sold off.

             MAX
       (interrupting)
Stolen.

             WARNER
Yes. But I’ve smuggled some money out.

MAX
You’re brave.

             WARNER
This coat. See these buttons.

Max looks at the large cloth-covered buttons.

             WARNER
Under the cloth, well, it isn’t wood.

             MAX
That must be a very heavy coat.

             WARNER
I hear the winters there are cold.

             MAX
Looks like it’s heavy enough to keep your whole family warm through a few winters.

             WARNER
Hopefully. And enough for a small store or café. What about you doctor? You’ll practice?

             MAX
I’ve sent some money ahead to a bank in Shanghai. And I’d like to practice again at another hospital. Or maybe I’ll open a small practice.

             WARNER
There will always be sick people. Shanghai will have its fair share.

             MAX
I suppose so.

             WARNER
Whatever happens, let’s keep both our families close. We’ll all be better off together.

Max nods.

CONTINUED