The 20th edition of the fiercely independent film festival Dances With Films (DWF) concluded on Sunday evening (June 11) with a closing night celebration at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood where the excitement was electric throughout the arena. Filmmakers and VIP guests enjoyed the festival's signature green carpet, awards ceremony, and a party featuring live music by Daniel Morris & Saizon Trio. Screening as the closing night film was the world premiere of AUSTIN FOUND from filmmaker Will Raée, starring Skeet Ulrich, Ursula Parker, Patrick Warburton, Matt Jones, Jon Daly, and Reza Sixo Safai, all of whom were in attendance. The film also stars Linda Cardellini, Jaime Pressley, Kristen Schaal, Craig Robinson, and Chris Parnell.
The unstoppable festival, for two decades a champion of independent filmmakers, is widely recognized as the premiere showcase of innovative independent cinema in the U.S., presenting amazing, undiscovered talent to an industry audience in Hollywood as the always jam-packed TCL Chinese Theaters.
ONE LESS GOD, a searing and intense drama about a terrorist takeover of a hotel in India based on true events, written and directed by Lliam Worthington, took home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature. The feature Eliza Sherman's REVENGE was given an Honorable Mention. The Grand Jury Prize for Best Short was awarded to LA SIRENA with Honorable Mentions given to WOMAN WITH AN EDITING BENCH and CONFECTION.
"ONE LESS GOD is one of the most masterful works we've seen come out of the Australian independent scene," said DWF co-founders Michael Trent and Leslee Scallon. "It is powerfully relevant considering today's headlines and we were honored to have the opportunity of presenting it to the world at this year's festival."
The prestigious 2017 Features Jury was comprised of past DWF winners Zack Bennett (The Ataxian), Clay Riley Hassler (Homeless), Tiffany Hassler (Homeless), and Michael David Lynch (Victor Walk). The Shorts Jury included DWF alum Kimberly Browning (Diamonds In The Rough), Romell Foster-Owens (Shake Oil Sam), and Mikeal Kreuzrigler (Sway).
The DWF Industry Choice Award is judged by industry powerhouse executives and all films in the festival (whether in competitive or fusion sections, features or shorts) are eligible. This year's judges included feature producer Debbie Vandermeulen (Braham Naman), television producer Hilton Smith (Super Girl, Deadwood), and President of Production at Ivanhoe Pictures Kilian Kerwin who awarded the films RED (under 40 minutes) and ONE LESS GOD (over 40 minutes).
The Audience Awards were given in numerous categories, including Downbeat (music videos and dance-themed films), Web Series, and TV Pilots, in addition to shorts and features. The full list of audience award winners is below.
The final lineup featured more than 193 titles, chosen from a record 2,100 submissions from all over the globe. The juried narrative competition section included 16 features, 14 of which were world premieres, and nearly three-dozen shorts. DWF also has categories for groundbreaking short and feature documentaries, provocative genre fare in the Midnight section, and the most exciting music videos and dance-themed films from the indie scene in the Downbeats section. The Fusion section brings together a multitude of additional features and shorts.
The festival also features the popular DANCES WITH PILOTS, which features the hottest new television and web pilots and the unique DANCES WITH KIDZ!, which screens films by and for kids.
GRAND JURY AWARDS
Best Feature: ONE LESS GOD
Honorable Mention - Feature: Eliza Sherman's REVENGE
Best Short: LA SIRENA
Honorable Mention - Shorts: WOMAN WITH AN EDITING BENCH and CONFECTION
INDUSTRY CHOICE AWARDS (ICA)
ICA Under 40 Minutes: RED
ICA Over 40 Minutes: ONE LESS GOD
Competition Feature: HOLDEN ON
Competition Short: ALL THE MARBLES
Fusion Feature: BEING BLACK ENOUGH OR (HOW TO KILL A BLACK MAN)
Fusion Short: WINK
Documentary Feature: RESISTANCE IS LIFE
Documentary Short: MIRACLE IN MALIBU
Web Series: DOUCHEAHOLICS
TV: NO PLACE TO FALL
ABOUT DANCES WITH FILMS
In 1998 DWF began as a film festival dedicated to finding tomorrow’s talent today and continues to carry on this mission today. With many World and West Coast Premieres, DWF provides a coveted first stop on the festival circuit. With a vast number of submissions, the selection process is based solely on merit and discoverability. DWF continues its dedication to and is a devoted champion of fresh and creative voices, mandating that all competitive films have no known actors, writers, directors, or producers. For the past 20 years, DWF has proudly provided access and opportunity to thousands of films and filmmakers from across the globe that diligently work year after year to see their dreams realized. With more than 12,000+ festival attendees and 2.5 million impressions per month on www.danceswithfilms.com, DWF is loyal and dedicated to the indie filmmaker and is considered their champion in Hollywood.
DWF’s Advisory Board includes: Steve Tisch, Cindy Cowan, Jonathan Dana, Steve Elzer, Kevin Kasha, Eriq La Salle, Michael Lehmann, Mike Macari, Valerie McCaffrey, Mark V. Olsen, Joel Ordesky, Mark Ordesky, Melissa Orlen, Will Scheffer, Hilton Smith, David Spiegelman, andSteve Wegner.