To Live and Write in LA

Dances With Films: Opening Night Full of Dreams and Zombies

(First published on blogcritics.org)

Fun on the red carpet

Fun on the red carpet

“Dare, Dream, Do” is the mantra of the Dances with Films independent film festival, May 31 through June 7 at the Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood. On opening night they lived up to their slogan for the year, “Dream Big or Go Home,” with the biggest red carpet parade I’ve ever seen. My photographer complained about her shoulder hurting when the procession of filmmakers and actors finally ended. I became more sympathetic when I realized she’d taken more than 600 photos.

Who are all these people?

The Dances With Films festival, now entering its fifteenth year, attracts an amazing array of talented indie filmmakers, bringing with them shorts and features spanning the entire spectrum of what you can do on film, from music videos, comedy shorts, documentaries and feature length dramas and comedies.

Worth the Weight

Worth the Weight

As I spoke with filmmakers as they exited the red carpet, I was impressed with their excitement and enthusiasm. Their films range in subject matter from Chinese entrepreneurs, explorations of family relationships, time travel, and, of course, zombies.

According to festival founders Leslie Scallon and Michael Trent, at this festival no one is selected because of who they are or who they know. Their only criteria is “…how entertaining their film is for as many minutes as it is on the screen.” Past years alumni of Dances With Films include Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer who went on to create HBO’s series Big Love, Jesse Eisenberg who portrayed Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, and Paul Bock, Grammy Nominated for Cee Lo Green’s music video Forget You.

Some of the films on my must see list during the festival include:

 

In Heaven

In Heaven

Liars, Fires, and Bears, a world premiere from writer/director Jeremy Cloe, about a nine-year old neglected foster child who talks a near-do-well from the neighborhood to accompany her on a cross-country search for her estranged brother.

Transatlantic Coffee, a West Coast premiere from writer/director Eric Peter Carlson, holds to the rule that a good movie must have memorable characters.This is a boy-meets girls tale, but the boy is a 41-year-old clown and the girl is a teenage stripper from London. What could go wrong?

Worth the Weight by writer Dale Zwanda and director Ryan Sage puts a new spin on the standard television transformation shows like Biggest Loser. When the protagonist, a former NFL football star whose career ended with a blown knee and who has blown up to 413 pounds, finds a personal trainer to help him, he finds acceptance in unexpected places.

 

The Olivia Project

The Olivia Project

Detention of the Dead, from writer Rob Rinow and writer/director Alex Craig Mann, tells the tale of a group of oddball high school students who discover that while they were in detention, all their schoolmates turned into zombies. I told you there were zombies.

Disorientation, another world premiere, from writer Charles Price and director Russell Whaley, tells the story of two unlikely college roommates who conduct a war of revenge on the goons who dominate the campus. Hey, I think this is about me.

More information on the extensive range of features and shorts playing at the festival are available at the Dances with Films website.

(Photos by Leia Sopicki)

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An exploration of film and filmmaking