Dances With Films Celebrates 15 "Defiantly Independent" Years - May 31st - June 7th at Grauman's Chinese Theatre

"Here you will find more genuinely encouraging vital signs from the American independent film movement than could be detected in all of Park City." --LA Weekly

This 15th year of LA's "Defiantly Independent" fest, DANCES WITH FILMS (May 31st-June 7th at the infamous Grauman's Chinese) is quite a milestone.  Beyond the films, there will be 4 strong Lunchtime Panels with great Industry luminaries (see list below) as well as top industry jurors for their Entertainment Choice Award.


Check out these links to their full list of over 80 films:





Industry Choice Award Jurors

Mark Ordesky is a founding partner in Amber Entertainment. Previously, Ordesky spent 20 years at New Line Cinema and acquired or executive produced over 60 films, including the company’s first Best Picture nominee ("Shine") and its first Cannes Palme d'Or ("Dancer In The Dark") as well as "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. Current productions include: "The Frozen Ground" with Nic Cage, John Cusack, "Exists" from Haxan Films, creators of "Blair Witch Project" and "Lovely Molly," just released by Image Entertainment.

Steve Wegner is Executive Vice President at Alcon entertainment.  A graduate of USC School of Cinema-Television, Steve has served as a producer of such films as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Insomnia, Racing Stripes, The Blind Side, Book of Eli and Dolphin Tale.

Tracey Bing has 16+ years in the entertainment industry. Formerly VP Production & Acquisitions at Warner Independent Pictures (March of the Penguins (2006 Best Documentary,) Good Night and Good LuckA Very Long Engagement and Before Sunset). She was Director of Acquisitions & Co-Productions at Paramount Classics (Bloody SundayMostly Martha and Man on the Train). Currently, Bing produces and consults for Warner Home Video, Fox International, the Kenyan government (developing film industry initiatives,) WNET/PBS NYC (programming Reel 13 films without distribution,) and an East African Pay TV venture creating and programming branded channels and a Pay-Per-View Platform.

Mike Macari is partner in Macari/Edelstein and producer of The Ring I and II as well as The Invisible, Amusement and Shelter with Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyer. Formerly an Executive at Fine Line Pictures Mike supervised production of The Anniversary Party. Currently in pre-production of Temple which will shoot in Japan.

This is a listing of the Panels:


-David Crockett - EVP GKFilms, Producer Bad Santa, Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Executive Producer Hugo

-Eric Garfinkel - Motion Picture Literary Agent, The Gersh Agency

-Priscilla Ross - Vice President, International Sales, Tricoast Worldwide: Bernard Rose's Two Jacks (Sienna Miller, Danny Huston) and Mike Magidson's INUK, winner of 28 worldwide festival awards

-Scott Shooman - Executive Vice President, Acquistions, CBS Films: The Mechanic, Beastly, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen



-Jeff Begun - Partner, Co-Founder Film Incentives Group 

-David Gale - Executive Vice President, MTV New Media

-Darrien Michelle Gipson - National Director, SagIndie

-Jane Fleming - Co-Founder, Amber Entertainment, Producer, Exists, The Frozen Ground, Lovely Molly...and President Emeritus, Women In Film



-Dama Claire - Partner, Co-Founder Film Incentives Group 

-Michael Fey - Shoot the Noise Productions Music Supervisor/Executive: Snow Dogs, Sweet Home Alabama, A Year On Earth, The Pixar Story

-Laura Lewis  - CAA Feature film packaging and financing.Formerly director of development at Ed Saxon Productions and a creative executive at Twentieth Century Fox 

-Steve Wegner  - Executive Vice President Alcon Entertainment, Co-Producer Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Insomnia, The Blind Side, Dolphin Tale



-Jay Cohen - Partner, Head of Film Financing & Packaging, The Gersh Agency

-Cindy Cowan - Owner, Cindy Cowan Entertainment: Red Lights starring Robert DeNiro, Sigourney Weaver and Vanished pre-production with Pierce Brosnon's Irish Dream Time

-Jeff Kleeman - Formerly EVP MGM/UA, Producer: Change Up for Universal, Jack The Giant Killer for New Line and developing numerous films including The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

-Melanie Miller - Vice President, Acquisitions Gravitas Ventures: 16-Love, American Teacher, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, The Perfect Family, A Warrior’s Heart  


Known as the fest for "championing the unknowns", DWF Alumni filmmakers include:  Dan Harris (X2, SUPERMAN RETURNS writer),  Mark Olsen & Will Scheffer (BIG LOVE creators),, Hilton Smith (HBO's HUNG and DEADWOOD producer), Lauren Meows (CABIN FEVER producer), Donovan Cook (Disney TV and Feature Animation director), Paul Bock (2011 Grammy nom for Best Music Video) and Aaron Downing (HESHER co-producer).  


The fest for "discovering tomorrows stars", DWF's acting Alumni include: Jesse Eisenberg (THE SOCIAL NETWORK), Melissa Leo (2010 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in THE FIGHER), John Hawkes (2010 Oscar Nominee for WINTER'S BONE), Ellen Pompeo (GREY'S ANATOMY), Bryan Cranston (3x Emmy Winner for BREAKING BAD), Kathryn Morris (CBS's Cold Case), Alexander Skarsgard (TRUE BLOOD), Dianna Agron (GLEE) and Margo Martindale (2011Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in JUSTIFIED).

Opening Night Features


ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS – This 2000 DWF Audience Award Winner, has been revived from a long lost fan, and will now be having it’s theatrical release in 2012. WRITER/DIR: Kelly Greene
PROD: Kelly Greene, Mark Spacek
CAST: Michael Dalmon, Maurice Ripke, Fred Ballard

JEREMY FINK AND THE MEANING OF LIFE - When twelve year old Jeremy receives a mysterious box marked "The Meaning of Life," he and his best friend Lizzy search high and low throughout Manhattan for clues to finding the missing keys. Based on the book by New York Times best selling young adult author Wendy Mass. Writer/Director Tamar Halpern won the 2005 Dances With Films Juried Best Picture for her movie Shelf Life  WRITER/DIR: Tamar Halpern
PRODS: Lauren Bullock, Ken Keller
CAST: Maxwell Beer, Ryan Simpkins, Mira Sorvino, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Urie


Closing Night Feature (and Fusion Entry)

EYE OF THE HURRICANE - Set in the majestic but dangerous Florida Everglades, EYE OF THE HURRICANE is told through the perspectives of a determined child, a troubled adolescent, a wounded parent, and a loyal friend, all struggling to put their lives back together after a devastating hurricane. Amelia waits at an Air Force base for word of her husband whose plane has disappeared, while her teenage daughter Renee deals with her crush on a FEMA worker. Nine-year-old Homer scours the 'Glades' for the eye he lost in the storm, while local fisherman, Bill deals with the tremendous damage left behind. WRITER/DIR: Jesse Wolfe
PRODS: Susan Johnson, Giovanni Lovatelli
CAST: Campbell Scott, Melanie Lynskey, Jose Zuniga, Nicola Peltz, Brian Doyle Murray, 
Gregory Cruz, Colin Ford, Grant Collins, Wendi Motte


Competition Narrative Films

3 DAYS OF NORMAL - A lonely small town cop and a reckless Hollywood starlet find each other and themselves during a long weekend in rural New Hampshire. WRITERS: Jared Parsons, Jace McLean
DIR: Ishai Setton
PROD: Jared Parsons
CAST: Mircea Monroe, Jace McLean, Ajay Naidu, Alex Anfanger, Lin Shaye, Richard Riehle

BLISSESTRASSE - Blissestrasse follows the story of a group of Christian fundamentalists on mission to Berlin to bring the Germans back to Jesus. Part thriller, part coming-of-age story, part Berlin travelogue and 100% farce, the mission goes sharply off the rails when the group's homophobic pastor loses control to the gay devil that lives inside him. WRITER/DIR: Paul Donovan
PRODS: Hannes Nothegger, Tom Ehrhardt, Paul Donovan
CAST: Michael McManus, Alex Goode, Meredith Autry, Beate Malkus

DEAD DAD - When their dad dies unexpectedly, estranged siblings Russell, Jane and their adopted brother, Alex, come home to tend to his remains. Though a stubborn and proud bunch, they are able to agree on one thing: nobody wants to keep the ashes. With little guidance and mounds of resentment among them, the three must work together to achieve a proper goodbye. The man who split them apart brings them closer together as the siblings learn what it means to be a family without their dad. WRITERS: Ken J. Adachi, Kyle Arrington
DIR: Ken J. Adachi
PRODS: Kelly Calligan, Ben Hethcoat
CAST: Kyle Arrington, Jenni Melear, Lucas K. Peterson, Allyn Rachel, Ben Hethcoat, Brett Erlich, Fred Stoller

DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR - "Where there are dreams, there is always an illusion." San Francisco is known as the home of progressive liberals and the free-spirited; so it only makes sense that after quitting her depression medication, Lulu, a voluptuous, rebellious, grungy girl moves there to live with her transgender fairy godmother, Illusion. Bored by her job at a local coffee shop, Lulu leaves no stone unturned when it comes to her sexual lust. Meanwhile, Illusion searches for someone to love and Lulu's friend Mario turns on her intrigue for a psychedelic trip on peyote. With its avant-garde perspective, Delusions of Grandeur, is a bright and colorful presentation of the struggle from adolescence into adulthood. Enjoy this spin on the coming-of-age tale for a new generation. WRITERS: Iris Almaraz, Gustavo Ramos
DIR: Iris Almaraz | GUEST DIR: Gustavo Ramos
PRODS: Joey Mendez
CAST: Leana Chavez, Salvador Benavides, Ronnie Alvarez, Rina Fernandez

FRAY - Justin, a young war veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, finds that coming back home is filled with many unforeseen challenges. As a financial crisis and inadequate post-war veteran services conspire against Justin healing his physical and emotional scars, he maintains complicated relationships with his employer and teacher, at once accepting and rejecting their help. WRITER/DIR: Geoff Ryan
PROD: Jodi Redmond
CAST: Bryan Kaplan, Marisa Costa, Wes Harris

FUZZ TRACK CITY - Murphy Dunn, a down and out private detective, is hired by a sultry woman from his past to find her missing son. Murphy soon finds himself embroiled in a mystery of betrayal, music and murder surrounding an obscure 1970's rock record. "Fuzz Track City" is a comic neo-noir thriller fueled by an eclectic retro-rock soundtrack. WRITER/DIR: Steve Hicks
PRODS: Steve Hicks, Maile Baird-Hicks, Megan Zakarian-Adell, Marcus Wagner
CAST: Todd Robert Anderson, Dee Wallace, Tarina Pouncy, Abby Miller

INTO THE WAKE - Exploring themes of revenge, family and the cyclical nature of violence, Into The Wake is a psychological thriller that follows a man lured from the city to the remote river banks of his youth by a cryptic phone call. Caught again in a violent clan war that he ran from years ago, his life unravels rapidly behind him as he descends further into his past. WRITERS/PRODS: Tim Miller, John Mossman
DIR: John Mossman
CAST: Tim Miller, Kristin A. Anderson, John Gray

LIARS FIRES AND BEARS - Eve, a 9-year-old hardened by time as a neglected foster child, is accustomed to taking life seriously. So when she meets Dave, a drunk thirty something who forgot to grow up, she sees an opportunity. Liars, Fires and Bears finds these two on an unlikely cross-country road trip after Eve hatches a plan to reunite with her absent brother, and laid-back Dave suddenly finds himself on the run from both the cops and the robbers. With a precocious kid behind the wheel and a man-child navigating, they may find the quickest route to their destination is through each other. WRITERS: Jeremy Cloe, Lundon Boyd
DIR: Jeremy Cloe
PROD: Constanza Castro | CO-PROD: Rachel Amanda Alterman
CAST: Megli Micek, Lundon Boyd, Luke Jones, Melody Melendez

SMALL CREATURES - Coggie is 14 and at a crossroads in his life. How does he know which way to turn? When he ignores the advice of his sister, mum and the police, Coggie finds himself out of his depth and face to face with Ste, a volatile and troubled bully. For a while now, Ste and Coggie have been ‘friends’ but there’s something not right about it. Ste is jealous of Coggie. Coggie is afraid of Ste. When Coggie refuses to try out Ste’s hunting knife, a new line is drawn between the boys and a deeper, darker tension takes over. WRITER/DIR/PROD: Martin Wallace
CAST: Michael Coventry, Tom Pauline, Paul Bamford

THIS IS OURS - Life is all about the choices we make. What if we chose wrong? Beaten by the American Dream, Will and Karen take a final trip to their once-beloved vacation home, which is now in foreclosure. While there, they unexpectedly befriend a pair of iconoclastic vagabonds, embarking on a strange journey of discovery, heartbreak and hope. THIS IS OURS is film about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness... and the power to break free. WRITERS/DIRS/PRODS: Kris & Lindy Boustedt
CAST: Karie Gonia, Ernie Joseph, Wonder Russell, Mark Carr

TRANSATLANTIC COFFEE - “Transatlantic Coffee” is a tale of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl ...only the boy is a 41 year old clown, the girl, a teenage stripper from London. Alex Howard (Kevin Pinassi), is battling bleak circumstances within his version of a hostile world. However, his outlook evolves with the emergence of the young, sharp and adventurous, Mandie (Rachel Marie Lewis). The oddball duo embrace each other for who they are, until Alex’s secret trauma bubbles to the surface, leaving for a climax that should not be missed. WRITER/DIR: Erik Peter Carlson
PRODS: Erik Peter Carlson, Kevin Bar, Yoko Lytle
CAST: Kevin Pinassi, Rachel Marie Lewis, Marcel Torres

WORTH THE WEIGHT - Sam is a former college football star whose chance to play in the NFL abruptly ends with a blown out knee. Seven years later, he finds himself alone, working a minimum wage job and weighing a deadly 413lbs. The time has come for some change! The time has come for some weight loss! Enter Cassie, a personal trainer who not only helps him lose weight but find love. Steering clear of the standard transformations formula seen on many current television shows such as, "Biggest Loser," Sam finds acceptance - and love - in unexpected places. WRITER: Dale Zawada
DIR: Ryan Sage
PROD: Kristina Denton
CAST: Robbie Kaller, Jillian Liegh, Tommy Snider


Competition Documentary Features

FACE 2 FACE - After major surgery, filmmaker Katherine Brooks was feeling isolated and alone. Although she had 5,000 friends on Facebook, she hadn’t had a hug in over a month. Struck with the idea that it takes more than a friend request to be a friend, she posted the following status update: the first 50 people who say YES...I'm coming to your city to meet you face to face. Within 9 minutes, Katherine had her 50. Face 2 Face is a feature-length documentary that follows Katherine on an 11,000-mile cross-country journey that would change her life and the lives of those around her. DIR: Katherine Brooks
PRODS: Katherine Brooks, Cynthi Stefenoni
FEATURING: Katherine Brooks

CROCODILE IN THE YANGTZE - Crocodile in the Yangtze' follows China's first internet entrepreneur and former English teacher, Jack Ma, as he battles US giant eBay on the way to building China's first global Internet company, An independent memoir written, directed and produced by an American who worked in Ma's company for eight years, 'Crocodile in the Yangtze' captures the emotional ups and downs of life in a Chinese Internet startup at a time when the Internet brought China face-to-face with the West. DIR/PROD: Porter Erisman
FEATURING: Jack Ma, Meg Whitman, Jerry Yang

IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO BEER - The story of the Los Angeles "Kiss or Kill" music scene (2002-2007). Fed up with the Sunset Strip pay-for-play policies and "too cool for school" trendiness of the Silverlake scene, the bands that made up Kiss or Kill forged their own scene based on great music, cheap booze, and a mid-western sense of community. At it's peak, Kiss or Kill had more than 60 bands in its roster and 1,000 L.A. fans. But as Kiss or Kill grew, it eventually became the very thing it was fighting against. DIR/PROD: Dave Palamaro
FEATURING: Bang Sugar Bang, The Dollyrots, Silver Needle, The Randies, King Cheetah, The OAOTs, The Letter Openers

EXQUISITE CORPSE PROJECT, THE - Director Ben Popik brings together five comedy writers, and surprises them with a challenge: to each write fifteen pages of a movie, having read only the previous five pages of the script. They agree with one stipulation: if they write the movie, he has to make it. It's a comedy, a love story, a psycho-sexual thriller, and a supernatural adventure all in one. Meanwhile, documentary footage of the writing process provides an inside-look into the often-hilarious creative process, as well as the group dynamics that make collaboration between friends difficult. WRITERS: Chioke Nassor, Joel Clark, Adam Conover, Dave Segal, Raphael Bob-Waksberg
DIR: Ben Popik
PRODS: Margaret Laney, Ben Popik
FEATURING: Caleb Bark, Megan Raye Manzi, Julia Frey, Trevor Williams

CODE 2600 - CODE 2600 documents the rise of the Information Technology Age as told through the events and people who helped build and manipulate it. The film explores the impact this new connectivity has on our ability to remain human while maintaining our personal privacy and security. As we struggle to comprehend the wide-spanning socio-technical fallout caused by data collection and social networks, our modern culture is caught in an undercurrent of cyber-attacks, identity theft and privacy invasion. Both enlightening and disturbing, CODE 2600 is a provocative wake-up call for a society caught in the grips of a global technology takeover. DIR/PROD: Jeremy Zerechak
FEATURING: Bruce Shiener, Jennifer Granick, Marcus Ranum

ABOUT US:  DWF is dedicated to the truly Independent films and the people behind them, priding itself on finding tomorrow's talent today.  DANCES WITH FILMS was formed in 1998 by a group of filmmakers who envisioned a festival where “who you know” didn’t matter, only the quality of the work.  The name, DANCES WITH FILMS, was actually a play on the plethora of ‘dance’ film festivals that cropped up left and right at the time - Slamdance, Digidance, Nodance, TromaDance. Truth be told, it started out as a rebellious joke. Originally the fest had the long title of "Dances With Films: Festival of the Unknowns" - something of a send up to all the 'Dance' Festivals that seemed to spring up over night. Then, after a battle with Orion Pictures, it became a symbol... of our irreverence and commitment to challenge the system. It's actually a pretty funny story. Check out this great article from FilmThreat.  Unlike Digidance, Nodance, TromaDance and even Orion - DWF is still going strong as is our commitment to indie films. Our belief in our filmmakers is rewarded year after year - as we watch our DWF Alumni move on to produce, write, direct and/or star in blockbuster movies and TV shows.  We hope you'll join us in celebrating the film stars of tomorrow.


With over 8000+ festival attendees plus 2.5 million impressions per month check out the Dances With Films website!

To purchase tickets go to Dances With Films Website Schedule

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