Now in its 21st year, Dances With Films is an original on the festival circuit, touted by the Huffington Post as "the future of Independent Film," "An innovator and leader in positioning raw and new talented directors," - 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 nearly 200 films each year to the LA Filmmaking and Film-going community.

Mission:
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.

Success!
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

Panels:
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 3rd 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 5 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 two short films 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

Awards & Prizes

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

Specific to shorts:

Every short film will be in competition whether in our Competition or Fusion series, for the Top Audience Award which will receive an Academy Award qualifying run via our sponsor - Laemmle Theatres.

Virgin Produced:
DWF now supplies a series of short films to Virgin Produced who in turn show these short gems on their Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia Airlines on a rotating basis under the Dances With Films brand!

Rules & Terms

GENERAL RULES
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. Music videos should be under 10 minutes. Films must have been completed after January 1st, 2015.

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.

Entries must be sent on DVD along with an online digital submission. Please check the individual categories for specifics.

Films cannot be tied to a domestic distribution deal.

Once selected, the filmmaker must make available a DCP (referred to as a "print"). Minimum format is Quicktime for projection. 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.

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 copywritten 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.

47 Reviews

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
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    Michael Canon

    DWF is the most genuine festival my film got accepted into. I left understanding my own film better, the industry better, and I immediately felt like a better filmmaker. Their communication is so strong that I felt like the festival was there for my own film individually. Not only that...I left the festival with a second film on my hands because of a contest they had. I later showed that to a manager and...it sparked his interest.

    The spirit is palpable, I felt like I was a part of a community of great people, with great vibes. So much so that I came back next year even though I didn't have a film in there. When my film got accepted, I understood my film better, and when I submitted again with a film that was rejected, they gave me feedback...which made me understand that film better too. Overall...it is worth submitting. 5 stars all around.
    P.S. Everyone on the staff manages to smile all the time, which keeps everyone else smiling too!

    November 2017
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    Jason Ragosta

    Dances With Films treats the filmmakers as the stars. I have never been to a festival that makes you feel more appreciated than DWF. Held at the TCL Chinese Theaters, the projection quality is top notch and the events and VIP room access was fantastic. They even have special industry panels in the VIP room with accomplished Producers and other guests. Met a lot of great people at DWF and hold many great memories from there. I highly recommend this fest!

    August 2017
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    Melissa Center

    Had a wonderful experience at Dances with Films. Such great people, great spirit, great venue. I learned a lot and forged some wonderful relationships.

    July 2017
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    Jason Honeycutt

    Had an amazing time at Dances With Films. LA festivals rarely cut through but this one did, a big turnout for our screening, especially on an early Saturday afternoon for the Dances with Kidz program.

    Just some quick feedback to make it even better... awards for Dances with Kids, even if it's one award. To me, it's a lot easier to make a gritty, cussing, dark film than one that can be entertaining to audiences including kids and adults. Every other category; features, shorts, music videos, web series, etc., gets awards... just not this one, which is surprising. But just getting into this great festival is an award in itself.

    I think it's such an amazing venue, Hollywood/Highland but there wasn't any signage at all for the general public. I rrrrreally think they could get a LOT more people off the streets, especially tourists, walking through there, if there would be some signs at the elevator and escalator areas. "Hey, I was in LA, went to a film festival!"

    That's just two minor ways to make this awesome festival even better. To me, in LA, there are literally only two festivals that are truly about "independent film" -- Dances With Films and Holly Shorts. The 'other' festival downtown is all about names, managers walking in films, politics, etc... but there are festivals like DWF still fighting the good fight for us truly independent filmmakers who don't have access to piles of money or A-list names... yet, they curate amazing films anyway. I honestly thought I didn't have a chance of getting in here, wasn't going to submit... but I did and holy hell, we got in. Give it a try!!

    June 2017
    Dwf brave
    Response from festival:

    Hellllooo Jason! Thanks for the kind words and the valuable feedback!

    We are definitely considering adding awards to the Kidz section. Your film was in our "pro section" of Kidz! As you know - Dances With Kidz! is primarily made up of young filmmakers (some as young as 6) ... and originally we were looking to have a "competition free" zone for them. (You know, everyone gets a blue ribbon.) That said - we hear you and are considering this for next year.

    With regard to signage at H&H... if only we had major corporate sponsorship... because the Chinese Theatres does not control any of that area and we're talking huge fees in order to advertise there. Would we like to?... Absolutely... American Express - are you out there? Yep... we hear you.

    Jason - we look forward to your next film!

    Cheers!
    Michael

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    Larry Ziegelman

    I've been to a number of great festivals, but "Dances with Films" tops them all. It's a well-run festival, with amazing filmmakers, incredible films and wonderful people running it. It's a "must enter festival" in my book.

    June 2017