Described as “fiercely independent,” Dances With Films (DWF), now in its 20th year, is set to screen 75 world premiere feature films including documentaries, narratives, and shorts beginning June 1-11, 2017. This festival, always a favorite for fans and filmmakers alike, doesn’t cater to the “celebrity” aspect of filmmaking. This festival relies “… on the innovation, talent, creativity and sweat equity that revolutionized the entertainment industry. ” And now, in its 20th year, this is as evident as ever with the calibre of films that will screen over the 11 days at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Los Angeles.
DWF is open to the public with tickets priced at $13 prior to June 1 and $15 after that date. With so many great films, it’s hard to choose, but after careful examination, I have several recommendations. But don’t limit yourself to these! Use them as a guide and be sure to take a few chances—you just might find that hidden gem before a big distribution company does!
Narrative Feature Films include 27 uniquely creative films.
There are 27 uniquely creative films, but “D-Love” written by Dave Rogers and directed by Elena Beuca, should be tops on your list. This real-life husband-wife couple take their own life-changing experience, cast themselves in the lead roles, and create an amazingly emotional and powerful film capturing hope in relationships and our connections with others—no matter how random they seem. When a film leaves you speechless, with tears rolling down your cheeks, and you find your hand over your heart as you watch the final scene fade to black, you know you have just seen a masterpiece. Read the review here
If supernatural dramas are more your cup of tea, put “Inheritance” on your list. (Read the review here) Tyler Savage writes and directs this dream come true/nightmare of any adult adoptee. Ryan (Chase Joliet) has just inherited a $2 million beach home from his biological father he thought was long-dead. This blessing soon is evident to be a curse, but is it too late to fight nature or can nurture win out? It’s an intense thriller that will make you gasp, jump, and think as you put the pieces of this generational puzzle together.
Another thrilling film is “The Midnighters” which focuses on the crime genre as Victor (Leon Russom), a 35 year ex-convict and expert safe-cracker and Gregory Sims, his long-lost son are reunited to pull of one last and very profitable bank heist. Filled with unexpected twists and turns, this cinematically gorgeous film will leave you guessing until the bitter end. Read the review here
This category also has an animated feature “Chance,” depicting the brutality of dog fighting. Chance, a pit bull puppy, is taken from his happy home and placed into the world of underground dog fighting. This little guy challenges his own kind to stand up for what’s right and put a stop to this brutal and cruel “sport.”
Additional Anticipated Highlights: “Tomorrow, Maybe,” “Austin Found,” “Being Black Enough,” “Eliza Sherman’s Revenge” ((read review here) “Game Day,” “Tater Tot & Patton,” “Imitation Girl,” “Jimmy the Saint,” “The Man from Earth: Holocene,” and “The Scent of Rain & Lightning”
DWF offers 59 Short Films! Ranging anywhere from 6 to 33 minutes, most around 15 minutes, short films can pack a lot of punch into a very short time period. And many short films can go on to become full-length feature films.
“Panic Attack!” is a vibrantly animated short film depicting a typical morning for one woman. We get inside her head, listening to the mental rabbit hole that she finds herself falling into as she questions whether or not she turned off the coffee maker. Where this leads is simply extraordinary, spinning out of control. And I’m guessing that I’m not the only one that is going to laugh out loud because I could completely relate to what happens!
“Wink” creates another vibrantly colorful world in the routine day of a housewife, bored and lacking attention. Dialogue-light, this inventive short film puts a spot light on what happens when our emotional needs are not met. It’s surprisingly playful and simple, yet hits some rather complex tones.
“Tonight and Every Night” brings us into the world of a man with dementia as he interacts with a young boy on a beach who is lost and lonely. It’s a film that will help us all understand this “fractured mind” and our own humanity.
Additional Anticipated Highlights: “Miriam’s Balloons,” “All the Marbles,” “The Candidate,” “Supermom,” “Effie,” and “Lemon”
“To The Moon and Back” is incredibly relevant given today’s political uneasiness with Russia. As the adoption laws from Russia changed, filmmaker Susan Morgan Cooper depicts the coinciding murder of a Moscow lawyer and the accidental death of an adopted Russian child here in the U.S. as they intersect giving us insight to what happened behind the Iron Curtain. It’s a heartbreaking and nail-biting documentary allowing you to see the facts and come to your own conclusions.
“Melting Stars” takes us on an aquatic journey to find out why there is an epidemic of starfish deaths.
A young 8 year-old girl named Evlin lives in a refugee camp on the Turkish-Syrian border where boldly stands up to ISIS. She and others like her are resilient as typified by her resistance and spirit. “Resistance Is Life” is sure to be an empowering and enlightening new film.
If music is in your veins, you’re in luck with DWF’s “Downbeat” Section. Featuring short films as well as full-length features with an underlying musical beat, this category has every genre represented.
“Alientologists” is a futuristic sci-fi story that promises to give us an introspective chuckle as we meet futuristic space “paleontologists.” Finding garbage in orbit from the now-defunct Earth, these scientists attempt to make deductions about the creatures that inhabited that planet.
“Don’t Feed the Party Animal” takes us back to the 1950’s with the band Miracles of Modern Science’s music video. A wallflower wants nothing more than to win the heart of the popular girl across the dance room floor, but how will he overcome his dreaded fears and win her over?
“Red” takes Taylor Swifts’ song of the same name and puts a meaningful and profound story behind it. Told from a caregiver’s perspective, we delve into the world of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. This looks to be a sincere and unique story that will capture your heart and your mind.
That brings us to the Midnight selection. This category also gives us a selection of shorts and features—a perfect array. From “2AM” to “G-4,” and “How2Kill” to “Paul’s Bad Day,” there’s a movie for everyone’s darker side.
Check back for more full reviews of many of these films as well as interviews with the filmmakers! For a complete schedule and ticket information, go to DancesWithFilms.com/schedule