DANCES WITH FILMS LA Announces Film Lineup Including 117 World, North American, And U.S. Premieres

Los Angeles' leading independent film festival  returns stronger than ever with largest lineup yet.

By: May. 30, 2024
DANCES WITH FILMS LA Announces Film Lineup Including 117 World, North American, And U.S. Premieres
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Dances With Films: LA announced the film lineup for the return of Los Angeles' largest indie film-focused film festival (June 20-30) for its 27th edition. Adding a new co-presenting partnership with Outfest for additional LGBTQIA+ programming, a beefed-up Midnight Horror and Genre section, as well as continuing the celebration of music, dance, and family friendly programming in the Downbeat and Kidz sections, all will contribute to the most robust film schedule DWF has produced to date. That packed schedule will be bookended by the world premieres of Mahesh Pailoor's heartfelt drama Paper Flowers as the Opening Night selection and Terre Weisman's Max Dagan on Closing Night. All screenings will take place at the TCL Chinese Theatre (6925 Hollywood Blvd).

Among DWF: LA's lineup of 232 films, including 38 narrative features, 17 documentary features, 25 television and streaming pilots, and 152 short films (101 narrative and 20 documentaries, 13 KIdz section, 18 Downbeat/Music), are an impressive number of films (117!) making world, international, North American, or U.S. premieres. That number includes 24 narrative features, 10 documentary features, 69 narrative shorts, 22 documentary shorts (including Downbeat), and 15 pilots which will have world premiere screenings at Dances With Films. 

Narrative features making their world premieres include: Patrick VanZandt's Addy Daddy, Nayip Anthony Garcia's Almost Popular, Benjamin-Shalom Rodriguez' America's Next Top Immigrant, Nida Chowdhry's Anxious., Verner Maldonado's Best Man Dead Man, Rich Ronat's Culprit, Alec Wry, Sam Slade, and Kevin Mix's Death Perception, Matt Warren's Delicate Arch, Jack McCafferty's Dreaming of You, Parker Brennon's Hauntology, Emily Moss Wilson's Inheritance, Ori Yardeni and Emil Ben Shimeon's The Man Who Saved the Internet With a Sunflower, Jeff Wolfe's Mourning Rock, Jean Barker's Nobody Leaves ‘Til Jesus Comes, Kerry Ann Enright's Nobody Wants to Shoot a Woman, David Beck and Jennifer Bobbi's Regarding Us, Aaron Inman's Shepherd, Nicholas Giuricich'sSpark, Carter Ward's Step Back, Doors Closing, Craig Ouellette's Straight On Till Morning, Jessica Boss' Unnamed, Alonso Alvarez-Barreda's The Wingwalker. 

Devin Lawrence's The Disinvited, Ryan Barton-Grimley's Listen Carefully, and Meg Rickards' Snake will make their North American Premieres, and Matthew Leutwyler's Fight Like a Girl will make its U.S. Premiere at Dances With Films LA.

Feature-length documentaries making their world premieres at DWF: LA include Leon Lozano's A Little Hope for Chicago, Ryan S. Porush's A School Grows in Watts, Christopher Riel's The Big White House, Eryl Cochran's Dance As You Are, Razieme Iborra's How the West Was One, Jayson McNamara and Andrea Tortonese's Norita, Rebecca Cory's Saving Jones, Meredith Yinger's Scars Unseen, Alec Goldberg and Boson Wang's Sitting in the Fire, and Bill Guttentag's Spyral. 

In the light of a challenging landscape for film festivals around the country, Dances With Films' Founders Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent are happy to not simply be continuing the important work of being the leading platform for independent film in Los Angeles, but to actually expand their reach to include an additional thriving film festival in New York City as well.

Regarding that fact, they said, "And the beat goes on! This year's lineup is another perfect example of wonderful, imaginative, challenging, and always entertaining work: narrative features, documentaries, pilots, shorts, and music videos that rarely have stars in their casts and almost never have big production companies footing the bill. We're thrilled to be the film festival that introduces them to audiences and industry in the heart of Hollywood.” 

Thursday, June 20 features the World Premiere Opening Night presentation of Mahesh Pailoor's Paper Flowers. Based on a true story, the film follows the poignant and inspirational journey of an ambitious USC graduate whose dream of making a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer is halted by a cancer diagnosis. Forced to return home and undergo treatment, he is immediately faced with the question “What is the true meaning of life when faced with limited time?” The international cast includes Kapil Talwalkar, Olivia Liang, Karan Soni, Faran Tahir, Meera Simhan, and Tom Everett Scott.

Sunday, June 30, DWF offers another world premiere as its Closing Night selection, Terre Weisman's Max Dagan. The film follows the title character's efforts to race against time to free his terminally ill father from prison following hisconviction for the manslaughter of a California State Trooper. To do so, he'll need to uncover the truth about what really happened, open old wounds, and somehow get the help of his estranged uncle and the daughter of the dead trooper, to find evidence that could set his father free. The impressive cast includes Rob Morrow, Zachary Gordon, Michael Madsen, Rob Brownstein, Lindsey Dresbach, Lisa Roumain, and Jay Mohr. 

Additional narrative feature films making their world premieres are Nida Chowdhry's surreal dark comedy Anxious. about a woman whose anxiety attack sends her down a rabbit hole where she meets versions of herself who take over her life. Verner Maldonado's dark comedy Best Man Dead Man takes place during a bachelor party in the middle of nowhere which quickly turns into a night of murder and mystery when the best man ends up with a knife in his head. Everyone is a suspect and only an eccentric private eye can solve the crime. Kerry Ann Enright's Nobody Wants to Shoot a Woman is a stark, intimate, yet unsentimental portrait of a mother marginalized by society who embraces a violent crime spree as a means to survive. Another title to look for will be Stimson Snead's Tim Travers & The Time Travelers Paradox. Making its Southern California premiere, the Sci-Fi comedy is about a reclusive mad scientist who creates a time machine to kill his younger self to create the paradox over his ability to exist in a mission to stand alone with God at the end of time and tell the bastard off. The film features a cast of favorites including Samuel Dunning, Felicia Day, Joel McHale, Danny Trejo, and Keith David.

On the LGBTQIA+ programming front, David Beck and Jennifer Bobbi's Regarding Us is an Outfest co-presented selection about a transgender woman who has a profound impact on the lives of two children after losing her teaching career. Nayip Anthony Garcia's Almost Popular follows two high school juniors who go on a quest to fulfill their dream to become part of the elite POP Girls who rule the school. Parker Brennon's queer horror anthology Hauntology is framed by a young woman taking her 12-year-old sister with runaway aspirations (on a journey around town, where she tells supernatural tales in which characters have more in common with the youngster than they first realize.

Once again, Dances With Films will please fans of horror and genre fare with its Midnight section of films led by four features making their world premieres. In Kevin Mix's Death Perception, a group of college students at a screening party for a short film made by an aspiring filmmaker begin to get picked off one by one by a mysterious masked killer. Matt Warren's Delicate Arch centers on four young friends who take a camping trip to Southern Utah in order to escape an ecological disaster. Alone in the desert, they soon realize they're being observed by a mysterious cosmic force. Jeff Wolfe's psychological thriller Mourning Rock stars Billy Burke as a state park ranger who, along with his wife, struggles to come to terms with their missing teenage son while dealing with a local mystery that questions their relationship. Craig Ouellette's Straight On Till Morning follow a young couple falling for each other on a romantic road-trip — until they cross paths with a pious couple who have something much, much darker in mind.

Highlights among the feature-length documentaries making world premieres include Sarah Schoellkopf, Jayson McNamara, Francisco Villa, and Melissa Daniels Norita, Executive produced by Jane Fonda, the film takes viewers on a gripping journey through Argentina's tumultuous history, where Norita's personal tragedy becomes a catalyst for change. Featured in the Downbeat section, and filmed almost entirely on iPhones, Eryl Cochran's Dance As You Are is a playful documentary following 100 strangers from around Los Angeles as they come together to form adult dance teams for a recital. Razieme Iborra's How the West Was One focuses on three unconventional cowgirls as they reshape our vision of the American West. Rebecca Cory's Saving Jones looks at the filmmaker's dedication to educating, advocating, and saving the lives of pit bulls, who are arguably the most abused, discriminated against and murdered dogs on earth. Oscar-winner Bill Guttentag's latest, Spyral, tells the tragic true story of the toll that bipolarism and drug abuse takes on a woman's life and her family via a decade of home videos, diaries, and social media.

Notable in the film festival world for the screening and promotion of television, web series pilots, and episodics, Dances With Films also has a healthy number of world premieres in this section. Elizabeth Cox and Kirill Yeretsky's animated entry Ada focuses on the title character as she heads to the first day of her new job at the public library. She's got A LOT on her mind, but soon realizes her daily reality–mundane duties, grumpy boss–is completely at odds with the urgency she feels about the pressing problems facing humanity. Dave Seger's George of Tujunga introduces us to a small-town moron who has his perfectly meaningless life upended when his eight-year-old niece shows up at his door with nowhere else to go. Noah Benjamin Miller's Popped is about a washed-up ex-boyband member more famous for rehab stints than making music, who becomes mixed-up with the drug cartel that forces him to create a new album and world tour through which they intend to launder cartel money. Jason Lee Courson's Seeking… centers on the growing pains of becoming a “chosen family” when three roommates (2 gay men, 1 straight man) all from different backgrounds, learn to cohabitate and navigate love and life in the big city. Brian Wallace and James Longley's World Twistories explores eccentric people and their offbeat ideas throughout history. Presented by Tik-Tok sensation Paul Longley, the pilot episode looks at a coffee shop that opened in London in 1703 where you were required to speak Latin to get your coffee.

Along with a lineup of films overflowing with invention and innovation, Dances With Films' short films also are spiced with several recognizable faces and names, including Russell Goldman's Burn Out, which is executive produced by Jamie Lee Curtis and stars Tommie Earl Jenkins (Wednesday), Eli Vidis Newman's Concrete, which stars four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris, Kestrin Pantera's Dr. No Means No, which stars comedy duo The Sklar Brothers, and Breeda Wool (The Walking Dead), Mike Harris' Mecánica, which stars Haley Joel Osment, and Olivia Sandoval(Fargo), and Danny Farber's Thoughts and Prayers, which is executive produced by Amy Poehler.

For more information about the Dances With Films LA film lineup, events, passes, and tickets, go to:


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