Since 1998 DANCES WITH FILMS has grown from presenting a handful of films to nearly 200 each year… from only narrative features and shorts to include the top documentaries, music videos tv & web on the circuit today.  In 2007 DWF brought new commitment to the indie world with the advent of the 2 Minute, 2 Step Short Film Challenge where we actually shoot 10 films during the festival and present them to enthusiastic audiences.  In 2012 the festival moved to its current location – the famed Chinese Theatre in the heart of Hollywood.  From there it has expanded to 11 days with ever increasing sold out theatres.  


It comes down to dreams.

DANCES WITH FILMS was formed in 1998 by a group of filmmakers who envisioned a festival where “who you know” didn’t matter, only the quality of the work. Our name, DANCES WITH FILMS, was actually a play on the plethora of ‘dance’ film festivals that cropped up left and right at the time – Slamdance, Digidance, Nodance, TromaDance. Truth be told, it started out as a rebellious joke. Originally the fest had the long title of “Dances With Films: Festival of the Unknowns” – something of a send up to all the ‘Dance’ Festivals that seemed to spring up over night. Then, after a battle with Orion Pictures, it became a symbol… of our irreverence and commitment to challenge the system. It’s actually a pretty funny story.

Check out this great article from FilmThreat.

Coming up in 2018… 

2018 marks continuing expansion for DWF as Year 21 will (once again) be presented over 11 days, culminating in the closing night awards ceremony. Dances With Films has become known as a discovery festival as unique as its mission. Some have referred to it as a “summer camp” for filmmakers because of its friendly spirit and continual efforts to help filmmakers forge relationships that will last long after the glimmer of the fest is over.

Dances With Films has been held each year in the heart of Los Angeles. Year 18 brought even greater audiences as we returned to the Chinese Theatres in the heart of Hollywood, arguably the most famous theatre in the world. DWF is one of the highest attended film fests in Southern California with more than 20,000 attendees each year. Additionally the festival is regularly tracked by industry in Los Angeles with deals made each year.


At the core of DWF is the narrative competition section, comprising both features and shorts. Our normal schedule contains 16 competition features and more than 3 dozen competition shorts. Additionally we present around a half dozen of the most groundbreaking documentaries and about a dozen cutting-edge music videos from the indie scene.  A few years back we added DANCES WITH KIDZ! – a side bar festival that celebrates films made FOR kids and films made BY kids.  Last year we introduced DANCES WITH PILOTS, encompassing the incredible indie creations for television and web.  All of this on top of our Fusion series, which brings together a multitude of amazing additional, features and shorts.

Unlike Digidance, Nodance, TromaDance and even Orion – DWF is still going strong as is our commitment to indie films. Our belief in our filmmakers is rewarded year after year – as we watch our DWF Alumni move on to produce, write, direct and/or star in blockbuster movies and TV shows.
We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the film stars of tomorrow.
Leslee Scallon & Michael Trent
Founders, Dances With Films
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