To Live and Write in LA

Dances with Films Festival: Music, Movies, and Amazing Entertainment

(Originally published on Blogcritics.org)

One of the amazingly enjoyable aspects of film festivals is the opportunity to see short films you might never otherwise see. This year’s Dances With Films (DWF) Festival, which took place May 28 through June 7 in Hollywood, did not disappoint.

Stacy and Don Fergusson

Stacy and Don Fergusson of Vanaka at Dances With Films

Short films are usually shown in blocks, often with a theme. The first of these at DWF was entitled “Down Beat: A Collection of Musical Stories.” The block contained one documentary, one performance music video, and nine concept music videos. All were good, and some were exceptional. My three favorites were Silver Girl, Dance with Me, and Alive to Possibility.

Silver Girl

Feature film makers should wish they could be as good as the creators of music video Silver Girl. The music is from the band Vanaka and was written by Stacey Fergusson, the band’s co-founder,  and JR Richards. Inspired by a friend’s battle with breast cancer, Fergusson’s goal was to help us look for the silver linings in life.

Scotland

The rugged terrain of Scotland was the background for ‘Silver Girl’.

The video goes from small details – a match lighting a candle in the darkness, a tear falling on a diary – to a breathtaking, grand scale ending. Along the way we see epic, beautiful sights in the highlands of Scotland. The video focuses on Oriana Sanders, the lead singer in Vanaka, who is also a cancer survivor. Silver Girl was directed by Min Reid and can be viewedhere .

Dance with Me

Sarah Dashew

‘Dance with Me’ was written and performed by Sarah Dashew

The song Dance with Me was written and performed by singer/songwriter Sarah Dashew. The video, directed by Christopher G. Ciccone (Madonna’s youngest brother), is a performance video of surprising impact. The cinematography is lush and colorful.

 Dashew’s performance is sweet and sensual. The message ofDance with Me is both universal and highly personal – it is about the risk of asking someone to love you.

The music had another surprise. As it started, I thought, “Wow, a country song!” (Yes, I do own a Miranda Lambert t-shirt), but it didn’t stop there. It flowed seamlessly into a Mexican language verse and added some mariachi sounds. Tex-Mex is not only food, it’s music, too, and Dashew did a beautiful job. The video can be viewed at her website .

Alive to Possibility

Benjamin Zander

Conductor Benjamin Zander found new possibilities in life.

As a UCLA grad, I don’t often say nice things about USC students. So when I say that the USC film-student-produced Alive to Possibility is worth seeing, you know it’s got to be good.

The window washer wanted to be a musician, but gave it up to support a family. The symphony conductor was successful, but felt something was missing from his life. The third man wanted to be a magician, but that career crashed when he lost a competition to Lance Burton. How they dealt with these detours is inspiring.

The film is cinematically impressive as well. It opens on a wine glass with wine up to the mid-point. Is the glass half empty or half full? What happens to the glass next, and the people in this film, will draw you into new possibilities.

To find out about future showings, connect with the film’s Facebook page.

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An exploration of film and filmmaking