Dances With Films 17 Announces Opening & Closing Night Alumni Gala Films, Powerhouse Panels And Family Friendly “Dances With Kidz”

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DANCES WITH FILMS (DWF), LA's largest discovery film festival of emerging talent, announced its opening and closing night festival galas as well as its 2014 Powerhouse Panels and Cocktails & Conversations lineup today as the festival celebrates 100+ independent films over 11 days from May 29th - June 8th at Hollywood's famed TCL Chinese Theaters. 
On May 29th, DWF will bring out the stars with DWF Alum, Riz Story's opening night film, A WINTER ROSE.  Paul Sorvino, cinema icon Theresa Russell, Robert Miano, Billy Zane, Taryn Manning, Edward Furlong and George Lazenby star in this triumphant drama about an incredibly talented young singer who must overcome all odds to realize her ultimate dream in life.  It is a story of love, friendship, the price of fame and following your dreams.  Set in the world of music, A WINTER ROSE features 20 original songs composed for the screen by the film's writer, producer, and director Riz Story. 
Winter Rose (Kimberly Whalen) was abandoned at birth and placed in an orphanage as an infant.  Years later, despite her profound gift as a vocalist and lyric writer, she is reluctant to pursue a career.  When her talent is discovered by a genuine music legend, Rachal Love (Theresa Russell), Winter must confront and overcome her past and find the courage to face her fears and realize her dream.  Produced by Riz Story, Robert Miano and Gary Alan Kauffman, the film is executive produced by JD Parsons and Jane Gehr.  To sample songs from the soundtrack and to learn more about the film, please visit: 
DWF closes the festival with THE TOY SOLDIERS, an 80's "retro" film from DWF Alum, Erik Peter Carlson, the writer/director who brought audiences the gritty, yet charming surprise hit TRANSATLANTIC COFFEE.  THE TOY SOLDIERS is an honest and unflinching look at the real life complexities and savageries faced by teens and their families.  Set in the 80's, the issues are current and familiar, bringing what is flashed in front of us on the news to a brutal, eye-opening realization.   Carlson states "I've been here(DWF) before with TRANSATLANTIC COFFEE, and what I can say is that I feel honored to be a part of this amazing group…it's an incredible place to discover, not only incredible talent, but also future business relationships."
"We are honored to have the caliber of talent that head up our panels and conversations each year.  Not only empowering to filmmakers, they have become an integral and important part of the Dances With Films story," Co-Founder, Michael Trent.  DWF creates a week of opportunities to learn from and engage with Hollywood's top Power Players.  The daytime panels include such industry veterans as Steven Friedlander (CBS Films EVP of Theatrical Distribution) and Zola Mashariki (Fox Searchlight SVP of Production), seminal Casting Directors Lisa Beach (Walk The Line, Wolverine) and Laray MayField (The Social Network, House of Cards), PR Executive Steve Elzer (former chief of media relations for Columbia Pictures and New Line Cinema) and Jay Cohen (Partner at The Gersh Agency).  In the evenings, attendees can sip wine during the more intimate Cocktails & Conversations, learning the art of pitching with Alcon Entertainment's Steve Wegner (The Blind Side, Prisoners), the ins and outs of producing with Don Murphy & Susan Montford (Transformers, Vampire Academy) or life inside the trades with Dana Harris (IndieWire Editor-in-Chief and General Manager).  Below is a list of all Panels and Conversations, and a full list with bios and photos are attached via pdf.

DWF is also thrilled to announce the 1st Annual DANCES WITH KIDZ, presenting the most creatively inspired, kid and family focused films on the indie circuit. "Films made for kids AND films made by kids."  The independent film scene has had a dramatic impact on mainstream entertainment for nearly two decades and yet there are relatively few independent venues championing family friendly films. DWF is ready to change all that as we bring on and introduce the next generation of media visionaries!  The first installment of DANCES WITH KIDS is programmed to run concurrently with DWF17!

Starting humbly in 1998, DWF was designed as a film festival dedicated to finding tomorrow's talent today.  With mostly World and West Coast Premieres, DWF provides a coveted first stop on the festival circuit.  Choosing films based solely on merit and discoverability, DWF remains the most devoted champion of fresh and creative voices, mandating that all competitive films have no known actors, writers, directors or producers.   For the past 17 years, DWF has proudly provided access and opportunity to hundreds, if not thousands, of films and filmmakers - from Hoboken, NJ to Xiang, China - that fight year after year to see their dreams realized.  Co-Founder Leslee Scallon says, "Giving these warriors the exposure that their talent, drive, and sacrifice deserve is what DWF has always been about and our belief in our filmmakers is rewarded year after year.  Just last year, 8 features were picked up for distribution at the fest!"  Now, with over 12,000+ festival attendees plus 2.5 million impressions per month on, DWF remains the indie heartbeat of Hollywood.
DWF appreciates the loyalty for independent filmmakers from its sponsors, Laemmle Theaters, Arena Cinema, Gravitas Ventures, Escape Artists, Ease Entertainment Services, CAA, The Lot, SagIndie, Final Draft, Movie Magic, VER, KPFK, OHM Night Club, Sephora, Burke Williams, Starbucks, Sweet, Trader Joes, Disaronno Liqueur, Cabotella Beer, Demidoff Vodka, Lucky Strike, Southern Wine & Spirits, Mel & Rose, Magical Blooms, Audio Rents, as well as the Loews Hollywood Hotel. 
DWF's impressive Panels and Conversations has earned the attention and respect of media.

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