A TOP 10 NORTH AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL by USA Today - and the only one in Los Angeles.

Having just completed our 27th year in Los Angeles, DANCES WITH FILMS (DWF) is now looking towards its 3rd year in NYC! With a truly successful foray into the NYC scene, Dances With Films is excited to announce a second year in the 'city that never sleeps'.

DWF is an original on the festival circuit (and the largest indie film festival in Los Angeles), hailed by Indiewire as "widely recognized as the premiere showcase of innovative independent cinema, presenting amazing undiscovered talent to an industry audience in Hollywood," "the future of Independent Film," by Huffington Post and as "An innovator and leader in positioning raw and new talented directors," by CNN and voted one of Moviemaker Magazine's Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals on the planet (and the only one in Los Angeles to make the list in the only year it was actually voted on by filmmakers across the globe), Dances With Films presents more than 250 films each year to the LA Filmmaking and Film-going community.

Dedicated to giving opportunities to creative talents who may not be considered 'Names', DWF stands out from the crowd with not only the community we've built, but by the success of our alumni and the shared loyalty of DWF relationships.

This year's EMMY AWARDS, had a sparkling amount of DWF alums, from presenting to sitting in the audience, including 2011 & 2012 alum, Gina Rodriguez presenting on stage to 2006 alum Alexander Skarsgard winning Best Supporting Actor to 2007 & 2012 alum Joel Watson, nominated for editing SHARK TANK. DWF has had many filmmakers go on to create series, such as the highly rated THE LAST SHIP, created by 2000 alum, Steven Kane. HBO’s critically acclaimed and hit series ‘Getting On” and “Big Love” were created by DWF Alums Will Scheffer and Mark Olsen after screening their feature film "Easter" at DWF 2004. Our TV/Web division, premiered TREADING YESTERDAY in 2016, which in now in development for a series. Jeremy Cloe, 2015 alum & ICA winner, recently won a student ACADEMY AWARD.

2008 actor alum Jesse Eisenberg was nominated for Best Actor in "The Social Network" for the 2011 Academy Awards. 2010 Audience Award winner "Go For It!" received a nationwide theatrical release through Lionsgate in 2011. Betsy Brandt "Breaking Bad'' & “Parenthood” was seen early on in her career in the Grand Jury Winner of 2005, "Shelf Life." And her co-star in “Breaking Bad” Bryan Cranston premiered his directorial debut with us in 2000! 2010 feature "Cost of a Soul" was seen nationwide at AMC Theatres in conjuction with Relativity Media's Rogue. - Just a few examples of our alumni accomplishments.

Some quotes:

"Dances with Film is an incredible film festival filled with a ton of hot, new talent. It's what Sundance should be and SXSW is – but it’s in our own backyard! They put on top notch industry panels and events which sync sponsors together with the filmmakers as well as other VIPs. Their events are well attended and are extremely well organized. It's a great platform for a sponsor to promote their own projects and enhance their profile in the Hollywood and Indie film community while picking up material and making new connections."

- Chris Charalambous, Head of Acquisitions, Freestyle Media

"Dances with Film is a great film festival. They treat their supporters and sponsors incredibly well, put on fantastic industry events and is an enormous wealth of new talent. Gersh has signed 3 new clients since becoming involved with DWF. We couldn't recommend it more highly."

- Frank Wuliger, Partner The Gersh Agency

As you can see, DWF provides great exposure to the decision makers of the film industry. In fact past year's panels and 'conversations with' series rocked it with Producer, Stephanie Allain (DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, HUSTLE AND FLOW); Casting Director, David Rubin (TRUMBO, GRAVITY); EVP, Worldwide Distribution, Paramount Pictures, Syrinthia Studier; Packaging Agent, Gersh Agency, Gergen Crochet; SVP, Acquisitions and Co-Productions, Miramax, Rosanne Kortenberg; EVP, Theatrical Distribution, CBS Films, Steven Friedlander... just to name a few. Every year brings out industry stars, the caliber of which - you will rarely find at other fests.

Dances With Pilots!
In addition to narrative and documentary features and shorts (not to mention music videos!), DWF is thrilled to bring back the 4th installment of Dances With Pilots! as we present TV and Webisodes as a sidebar to the big fest.

Dances With Kidz!
We are pleased to present year 6 of Dances With Kidz! This program consists of films created for kids and most importantly... created BY kids. There is a pro section along with the kids section (18 and below).

2 Minute Short Film Challenge
And on the creative side, DWF also produces up to ten short films during the week of the festival. The 2 Minute Short Film Challenge has become an exciting favorite program at the festival. Utilizing the latest digital technology and pure filmmaking ingenuity, submitted scripts are shot, edited and screened in front of evening competition films during the festival.

Academy® Qualification:
We also qualify a slate of shorts for Academy Award® consideration through our friends at Laemmle Theatres and Double Exposure in Los Angeles. Short films that premiere with us actually have a higher possibility of being Academy® qualified than most any other short film competition in the country.

The Family:
Finally, the community of Dances With Films that has evolved since 1998 is a strong and loyal one. DWF offers the opportunity for filmmakers to strengthen and expand connections that will endure for years to come.

For more information on all the above statements, head over to www.danceswithfilms.com

The awards vary depending on the category, however our prize packages in the past have included:

Industry Choice:

Every film in the festival is eligible for the 'Industry Choice Award (ICA)'. The winning film will have been viewed by and chosen and receive meetings with Industry Heavy-hitters, such as Producer Mark Ordesky (Lord of the Rings); Steve Wegner (The Blind Side, Dolphin Tale); EVP of Acquisitions and Co-Productions, CBS Films, Scott Shooman (American Assassin, Hell or High Water) and the priceless prize of a meeting with one of the judges.

Best of Fest Award:

Although our awards package is currently being developed for the season, in the past we have presented winners with: Distribution Deal with Gravitas Ventures * Canon 5D SLR Camera * Movie Magic Budgeting & Scheduling * Final Draft Software * Showbiz Software Producer Packages * FilmTracker from Studio System * Panavision Production Package

Audience Choice Award:
Although our awards package is in being developed for the season, in the past we have presented winners with: Movie Magic Budgeting & Scheduling * Final Draft Software * Showbiz Software Producer Packages * FilmTracker from Studio System

Feature films (narrative & documentary) should be over 40 minutes with a maximum of 200 minutes. Short films (narrative & documentary) should be under 40 minutes with a minimum of 1 minute. Films must have been completed after January 1st, 2022.

Filmmakers understand that their entry cannot have any known individuals within their given project.** No known directors, actors, producers, writers, or monies from known sources (i.e. Imagine or Scott Free Productions). We do not discriminate against 'working' actors & crew. **IMPORTANT NOTE -- DWF will present DWF: UNLEASHED! - a new division (since 2020) that will include name talent. This isa non-competitive division as the competition sections will always remain true to the original DWF design.

Films cannot be tied to a domestic distribution deal.

Once selected, the filmmaker must make available a DCP* (referred to as a "print"). DWF does not screen discs (Blu-ray/DVD) due to quality concerns. Failure to produce such print one-week prior to the screening date will result in a liability to DWF in the amount of $500. *Please note that DWF regularly finds amazing deals on DCPs through sponsors each year.

At least one representative (producer or director) of each competitive project are required to be part of a Q&A session immediately following their screening(s).

Participants agree that clips from their film and all other material related to their project may be used and/or published in the event program, DWF website and for any promotional purposes which DWF deems appropriate.

No screeners and/or promotional materials will be returned to the filmmaker, unless arranged in advance with the festival office.

If selected, all commercial/private property including all trademark/copyrighted materials shown or recorded on the project is the responsibility of the filmmaker. DWF will NOT take responsibility for any infringement of copyright materials.

The cost of delivery and pick-up of all materials is the responsibility of the filmmakers.

DWF holds no responsibility for lost or damaged prints. While the utmost care will be taken with regard to prints, it is solely up to the filmmaker to take full responsibility (i.e. insurance).

Rules are subject to change at any time with or without prior notice.

Overall Rating
  • Stephen Purvis

    Dances With Films is one of the best festivals I have attended. They are extremely helpful to filmmakers. The festival runs smoothly like a Swiss clock. The panels are excellent. Plus there are numerous opportunities to network with other filmmakers and Hollywood pros. The best part is seeing your film screen in the Chinese movie theater complex in Hollywood. It is fantastic to see your film in a real movie theater with stadium seating and state of the art projection and sound. It was a fabulous experience for me and my team.

    October 2023
  • Shane Bannon

    Dances With Films was the perfect place for the premiere of our film. The short film blocks in particular were stellar as were the industry panels. The festival is very organized and the team always makes you feel welcome. There were countless opportunities to mingle with other filmmakers and we left the festival with plenty of new friends.

    August 2023
  • Brendan Beachman

    Absolutely loved my experience at DWF. I have been to many, many festivals in my career, and I have NEVER been to one that consistently sold out screening after screening like Dances With Films did, and in theaters as large as the Chinese. The audiences were incredible (and i'm not just saying that because my short won the audience award). Communication was amazing and you can truly feel the passion that the whole team has for the festival. I am excited for any filmmaker who can go to DWF because I know they will get the same treatment myself and the entire "A Wedding Day" team had. Thanks so much for everything

    August 2023
  • Heidi Nyburg

    What an amazing experience. We feel so lucky to have had the West Coast premiere of our film FIVE AND A HALF at Dances with Films. This festival is run by people who truly care about independent filmmakers. We are honored to have screened among such incredible work. Dances with Films always made us feel welcome and valued for our point of view. The communication and the production were top notch. I highly recommend this festival. And I love that they have an area set up to promote your film. I found so many great films to watch and met some really talented filmmakers all because of the promotion table they have set up for post cards and swag. Love it! Great panels and events too! Thank you Dances with Films! <3

    July 2023
  • Night Owls Productions

    DWF is an amazing festival - we were treated with great warmth and respect. The venue was brilliant - our film looked and sounded epic. We could not have asked for more. With gratitude to Michael and Leslee. Richard Kilroy.

    July 2023