LA's Dances With Films Celebrates 26 Years at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood

The festival runs June 22-July 2.

By: Jun. 02, 2023
LA's Dances With Films Celebrates 26 Years at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood

Dances With Film aka DWF:LA is about to unleash its 26th annual independent film festival from June 22-July 2 at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood.  Always prioritizing important storytelling above all else, this year’s theme of “Peace, Love, & Celluloid” is a nod to some of its powerful programming that promotes healing, highlights social justice, and celebrates inclusivity and diversity.    

Festival Founders Leslee Scallon, Michael Trent state “Looking toward our next quarter century, with a 26th Annual slate highlighting more than 100 world premieres, we are proud to present a lineup of diverse voices that not only deliver new levels of entertainment and unique stories but focus on local and global social issues that impact everyone on our planet.  DANCES WITH FILMS has always been about true discovery, this year we challenge audiences to discover something about themselves.”

The festival will open with the World Premiere of Good Side of Bad, a powerful drama based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Beverly Olevin. Directed by Alethea Root and starring Jules Bruff (Zodiac), Lexi Simonsen (S.W.A.T.), (Alex Quijano (High School Musical: The Series) and Academy Award Nominee Tess Harper (Crimes of the Heart, No Country For Old Men), the film depicts a raw and intimate look into what it means to be a family navigating the waters of mental illness. Closing out the festival is Home Free by first time director Aaron Brown and writer Lenny Barszap, social impact Trojan horse disguised as a coming-of-age college comedy with a focus on homelessness.

To celebrate strong female voices in film, Dances With Films has curated a slate of features written, directed by and starring females. The world premiere of 7000 Miles, directed by Amy Glazer stars Wendie Malick (Hot In Cleveland), Emmy Award Winner Juliet Mills (The Rare Breed, Passions), Maxwell Caulfield (Grease 2, Empire Records)  and Ray Abruzzo (The Sopranos). Hot new supernatural thriller The Unseen, written and produced by neurodiverse filmmaker Jennifer Goodman under her banner Lakefront Pictures, also stars in the film alongside R.J. Mitte (Breaking Bad). Katie’s Mom, by first time female director Tyrrell Shaffner, a comedy inspired by The Graduate, stars Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers, Saw) and Aaron Dominguez (Only Murders In the Building). Escaping Ohio, a coming-of-age drama written, directed, produced and starring Jessica Michael Davis features Emily Bergl (The Rage: Carrie 2) and Adam Pascal (Rent).

Speaking of Broadway’s iconic show Rent, documentary Meet Me Where I Am directed by Grant Garry,  explores the topic of grief through individual stories of loss, love and hope and features Anthony Rapp (Rent) and John Farley, brother of late comedian Chris Farley. Other documentary highlights include Hollywood’s Finest, directed by Claire Collins and produced by the Los Angeles Times, gives a searing, unflinching and raw portrait of a young female addict struggling to survive on the streets, get help, and get clean in order to provide for her newborn baby. Her nomadic mom, and social worker Leslie offer emotional support and guidance to attain housing, but ultimately McKenzie’s demons get the best of her.  The film offers a hard look at homelessness and housing insecurity in LA. Mama! Is a powerful documentary by first time filmmaker Sofia Drai that highlights the wrongful deaths of 3 young black men at the hands of police.  The film focuses on the mothers and families that are left behind to deal with the unbearable and senseless loss.  It takes a village rings true here, and these mothers come together to fight for social justice and reform.

Short films include comedy Chicken, starring world famous magician Criss Angel and comedian Courtney Karwal. Animus, the story of a Nobel Prize-winning physicist suspected of murdering three husbands, stars Angela Sarafyan (The Twilight Saga, Westworld) and Nancy Travis (Three Men and a Baby, The Bill Engvall Show).

Dances with Films prides itself on celebrating inclusivity, diversity and different and unique perspectives on social issues. Additional titles dealing with important issues include Daruma, which features disabled leads and is the recipient of the Project ReFrame stamp of approval from Women in Film and The Sundance Institute. Baldy For The Blind, is an inspiring story of a group of blind hikers as they attempt to summit Mount Baldy, the most dangerous mountain in LA County towering at over 10,000 feet. The Monks, a heartbreaking documentary detailing Russian attacks on killings on peaceful religious individuals in Ukraine, was shot on location at a Ukrainian Orthodox Monastery. 



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