27th Annual Dances With Films: LA concludes record-breaking edition of Los Angeles’ leading indie film festival and announces Filmmaker Awards

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The 27th Annual Dances With Films Festival: LA concludes a record-breaking edition of Los Angeles’ leading indie film festival and announces the Filmmaker Awards winners during a jubilant celebration at The TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood following the 27th edition of Los Angeles’ leading indie film festival. The Grand Jury Prize winners were led by Michael Groom’s Between the Lights (Best Narrative Feature): and Leon Lozano’s A Little Hope For Chicago: Heading the list of Audience Choice winners were Ori Yardeni and Emil Ben Shimon’s The Man Who Saved the Internet With a Sunflower (Best Narrative Feature): and Rebecca Corry’s Saving Jones (Best Documentary Feature): DWF’s coveted Industry Choice Awards went to Matthew Leutwyler’s Fight Like A Girl in the “Over 40 Minutes” category:  and Peter Decherney’s Is It Because I’m A Girl in the “Under 40 Minutes” category:The DWF: LA’s lineup of 232 films, included 117 making world, international, North American, or U.S. premieres in the heart of Hollywood. Three films (Etana Jacobsen’s Advanced Chemistry, Haroula Rose’s All Happy Families, and Verner Maldonado’s Best Man Dead Man announced distribution deals during the film festival.

Our News Team of Entertainment Today TV Producer: Steve Taylor, TV Show Host: Margie Rey, & News Reporter: Matt Segal at The Opening Night of the Dances With Films Festival in Hollywood, at The World Famous Chinese Theatre: Bookended by full house Gala screenings of Mahesh Pailoor’s Paper Flowers (Opening Night) and Terre Weisman’s Max Dagan (Closing Night), Dances With Films: LA kept both the theaters and the Chinese Theater’s lobby filled and hopping with filmmakers and film fans including seven Orange Carpet events over the course of the film festival’s ten days of screenings and panels. In addition to the award winners, crowd pleasers included Patrick VanZandt’s Addy Daddy, Nayip Ramos’ Almost Popular, Benjamin-Shalom Rodriguez’s America’s Next Top Immigrant, Stanley Wong’s Future Date, and Jean Barker’s Nobody Leaves ’til Jesus Comes. Additional crowd favorites among the documentaries included Alex Lamb and Max Well’s The Donn of Tiki, and Razieme Iborra’s How the West Was One. Iborra actually arrived at The Chinese Theater on horseback, making an entrance unmatched by any other filmmaker!

Dances With Films’ Founders Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent, said “In our 27th year, we were struck by the awareness of how our DWF filmmaker family continues to grow exponentially with such an amazingly diverse array of talented artists. As this film festival continues to be dedicated to the mission of supporting them with a singular focus on celebrating and promoting truly independently produced films and projects, we also continue to be humbled seeing all of them form such a tight-knit community too.”

Additional Audience Choice Award winners were Devin Lawrence’s The Disinvited (Fusion Feature), Christian Klein’s Bed By 9 (Downbeat), K.D. Chalk’s Survived By (Dances With Kidz Pro), and Reece Melber and Rachel Othon’s Exposed (Pilots). In the Short Film categories, Audience Choice Awards went to Craig Newman’s I Approve This Message (Narrative), Samantha Ramirez-Hererra’s El Regreso (Documentary), and Daniel Rashid’s Puppy Love (Fusion).

A new edition to Dances With Films this year was the Fever Pitch Short Script Challenge, which was won by Sean Cage’s pitch for his project “Judas Kiss”. Runner ups in the competition were Antjuan Ward’s “In The Pocket”, and Ed Lawrence Robinson’s “Merry Christmas, Colonel Shoup”. Cage received $500 for his winning pitch, while Ward and Robinson will each receive $250. In the Grand Jury Prize competitions, Honorable Mentions went to Jack McCafferty’s Dreaming of You, and Brendan Boogie’s Tallywacker (Narrative), as well as Bill Guttentag’s Spyral (Documentary).

Dances With Films will next return for its 3rd New York City edition in December. For more information about Dances With Films, please go to: https://danceswithfilms.com/.

The 2024 Dances With Films LA Filmmaker Award Winners:

GRAND JURY PRIZES

GRAND JURY – NARRATIVE FEATURES
BETWEEN THE LIGHTS
Director/Writer: Michael Groom
Producers: David Groom, Michael Groom

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
DREAMING OF YOU  Director/Writer: Jack McCafferty
Producers: Bridgett Greenberg, Jack McCafferty

TALLYWACKER Director/Writer: Brendan Boogie
Producers: Jeremy Dubs, Chris Goodwin, Brendan Boogie

GRAND JURY – DOCUMENTARY FEATURES
A LITTLE HOPE FOR CHICAGO
Director: Leon Lozano
Writers: Kevin Nichols, Leon Lozano
Producers: Garrett E.B. Thompson, Kevin Nichols, Leon Lozano

HONORABLE MENTION:
SPYRAL  Director/Writer: Bill Guttentag
Producer: Jennifer Hutchins

GRAND JURY PRIZE – NARRATIVE SHORTS
BLACK SILK
Director/Writer: Patrick Michael
Producers: Patrick Michael, Josh Akin, Tiffany Gist Samuel Skeen

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
KOI
Director/Writer: Taige Shi
Producer: Tianyu Yang

THE RUNT
Director/Writer: Christy Stratton
Story by: Christy Stratton, Mark Norberg
Producers: Katrina Rotondo, Daniela Inés Calvo and Christy Stratton

INDUSTRY CHOICE AWARDS

INDUSTRY CHOICE AWARDS (UNDER 40′)
IS IT BECAUSE I’M A GIRL
Director: Peter Decherney
Producer: Peter Gitau

INDUSTRY CHOICE AWARDS (OVER 40′)
FIGHT LIKE A GIRL
Director/Writer: Matthew Leutwyler
Producers: Anton Laines, Innocent Munyeshuri, Yvette Gayle Serge Ibaka

FEVER PITCH SHORT SCRIPT CHALLENGE

WINNER: JUDAS KISS by Sean Cage

RUNNER UP (TIE)
IN THE POCKET by Antjuan Ward
MERRY CHRISTMAS, COLONEL SHOUP by Ed Lawrence Robinson

AUDIENCE AWARDS

COMPETITION (NARRATIVE) FEATURE AUDIENCE AWARD
THE MAN WHO SAVED THE INTERNET WITH A SUNFLOWER
Directors: Ori Yardeni, Emil Ben Shimon
Writers: Oren Safdie, Izhar Har-Lev, Ori Yardeni
Producers: Kobi Hoffmann, Zehava Shekel

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE AUDIENCE AWARD
SAVING JONES
Director/Writer: Rebecca Corry
Producer: Stand Up For Pits Foundation with Angel Forever

FUSION FEATURE AUDIENCE AWARD
THE DISINVITED
Director: Devin Lawrence
Writers: Devin Lawrence, Matthew Mourgides
Producer: Matthew Mourgides

DOWNBEAT AUDIENCE AWARD
BED BY 9
Director: Christian Klein
Writer: Max Castillo
Producer: Olivia Isabel Comas

DANCES WITH KIDZ PRO AUDIENCE AWARD
SURVIVED BY
Director/Writer: K.D. Chalk
Producers: Nicole Crespo, Pinar Binay

PILOTS AUDIENCE AWARD
EXPOSED
Directors: Reece Melber, Rachel Othon
Writer: Hannah Merritt
Producer: Sina Crenshaw

COMPETITION (NARRATIVE) SHORTS AUDIENCE AWARD
I APPROVE THIS MESSAGE
Director: Craig Newman
Writer: Michael Barringer
Producers: Craig Newman, Michael Barringer

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS AUDIENCE AWARD
EL REGRESO
Director: Samantha Ramirez-Hererra
Producer: Sam Bathrick

FUSION SHORTS AUDIENCE AWARD
PUPPY LOVE
Director: Daniel Rashid
Writers: Daniel Rashid, Elizabeth Valenti
Producers: Reilly Anspaugh, Daniel Rashid, Elizabeth Valenti

Now in its 27th year, Dances With Films champions the unflinching spirit at the very core of the independent film scene. With most film festivals relying heavily on celebrity, DWF have relied on innovation, talent, creativity, and sweat equity that revolutionized the entertainment industry. And that reliance continues to prove successful with alumni moving on to write, direct, and produce celebrity-studded vehicles, star in blockbuster movies, and television series, produce multi-million-dollar film and create hot TV shows.

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.

The Dances With Films Festival is a Star-Studded 11 days, with Both A-List stars, and several recognizable faces and names that include: Norita” that is Executive produced by Jane Fonda, Russell Goldman’s Burn Out, which is executive produced by Jamie Lee Curtis and stars Tommie Earl Jenkins, 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, Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers), and Olivia Sandoval(Fargo), and Danny Farber’s Thoughts and Prayers, which is executive produced by Amy Poehler, Tim Travers & The Time Travelers Paradox” Stars: Samuel DunningFelicia DayDanny Trejo, and Keith David, Mindy Cohn the Co-Star on “The Facts of Life,” and finally: the World Premiere of “Max Dagan” which stars: Rob MorrowZachary GordonMichael MadsenRob BrownsteinLindsey DresbachLisa Roumain, and Comedians and Actors Jeff Ross and Jay Mohr! 

So stay tuned and thanks for watching Entertainment & Sports Today TV and Entertainment Today on Time Warner/ Spectrum. To watch other shows go to: EntertainmentandSportsToday.com  Celebrating 30 Years being Broadcast on TIME WARNER / Spectrum!

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