Dances With Films Festival runs May 28 through June 7 at TCL Chinese 6 Theaters on Hollywood Blvd.; Michael Clarke Duncan's last film "The Challenger" opens festival

by Oliver Carnay

DANCES WITH FILMS, the yearly film festival based in Los Angeles is all gearing up for its 18th anniversary edition, which will run from May 28th through June 7th. The 11-day festival will be housed at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters on Hollywood Blvd.

Different programs will showcase an array of emerging artists in some of the best indie films around the world, including 11 Fusion Features, 20 Fusion Shorts, eight Midnight Shorts, eight Documentary Features, five Documentary Shorts, and 10 Downbeat (music video). 65 films will include a record 65 premieres — 27 World, five North American, 16 West Coast, three Southern California, 13 Los Angeles, and one U.S. premiere.

Photo: Kent Moran stars, wrote and directed "The Challenger"

Opening Night film will be Kent Moran’s “The Challenger,” featuring Michael Clarke Duncan (his last film), which also stars. S. Epatha Merkerson (“Law & Order”) and Justin Hartley (“Smallville”) “The Challenger” is an inspiration tale of a man overcoming adversity. With the help of legendary boxing trainer Duane Taylor (Duncan), struggling Bronx auto mechanic Jaden Miller (Kent Moran) turns to boxing to save him and his mother (Merkerson) from living on the streets.

The festival kicks off with an opening night party on May 28 and culminates in the closing awards ceremony and afterparty on June 7, all located in the Hollywood & Highland complex.

DWF’s offers a diverse slate this year featuring high-profile talents such as Nick Offerman, Sam Trammell, Clea DuVall, Bryan Greenberg, T.R. Knight, Bruce Greenwood, Diane Farr, Brian Geraghty, Molly C. Quinn, Paget Brewster, Kyle Gallner, Jamie Chung, Frances Conroy, Olivia Thirlby, Marshall Allman, Matt Groening, Penn Jillette, and many others.
The festival’s competition films are selected from more than 2,000 film submissions annually, and were programmed entirely from blind submissions by the DWF filmmaking community based solely on their unique and powerful cinematic visions.

“This year’s theme, ‘Cinema Vortex,’ exemplifies the creative energy that has always been the epicenter of Dances With Films. So, whether you like documentaries, music videos, or a film of any length and genre, those and more can be found here,” said DWF co-founder Leslee Scallon.
“One of the reasons we created DWF is because of the level of exciting and innovative talent we champion to the film industry and Hollywood community at large. We represent those filmmakers and their teams who have taken limited resources and turned them into films you shouldn’t miss,” added festival co-founder Michael Trent.

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