Dances With Films Festival to Open With Michael Clarke Duncan’s Last Movie ‘The Challenger’

Los Angeles-based film festival Dances With Films has announced the Fusion, Midnight, Documentary and Downbeat (music video) programs for its 18th edition, which runs May 28-June 7.

The DWF showcase of emerging artists includes 11 Fusion Features, 20 Fusion Shorts, three Midnight Features, eight Midnight Shorts, eight Documentary Features, five Documentary Shorts, and 10 Downbeat selections. These 65 films include a record 65 premieres — 27 World, five North American, 16 West Coast, three Southern California, 13 Los Angeles, and one U.S. premiere.

This year’s opening night film will be Kent Moran’s “The Challenger,” which is the last film featuring Michael Clarke Duncan“>Michael Clarke Duncan (“The Green Mile). S. Epatha Merkerson (“Law & Order”) and Justin Hartley (“Smallville”) also star in the film, which 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.

 

Also Read:Michael Clarke Duncan, 'Green Mile' Actor, Dead at 54

 

DWF’s diverse slate also includes projects featuring high-profile talent such as Nick Offerman“>Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”), Sam Trammell (“True Blood”), Clea DuVall (“Argo”), Bryan Greenberg (“Bride Wars”), T.R. Knight (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Bruce Greenwood (“Star Trek”), Diane Farr (“Numb3rs”), Brian Geraghty (“The Hurt Locker”), Molly C. Quinn (“Castle”), Paget Brewster (“Criminal Minds”), Kyle Gallner (“American Sniper”), Jamie Chung (“Sucker Punch”), Frances Conroy (“Six Feet Under”), Olivia Thirlby (“Dredd”), Marshall Allman (“Prison Break”), Matt Groening (“The Simpsons”) and Penn Jillette (“Penn & Teller”), among others.

A number of breakthrough films from newly emerging filmmakers that tackle a wide variety of subjects will also premiere for Los Angeles audiences at Dances With Films this year. “Superbob” explores superpowers; “Superior” examines the Vietnam War and the vast Northwoods; a record-breaking high jumper and winner of the show jumping Triple Crown is the subject of “Harry & Snowman”; and “Monkeys” chronicles toxic relationships.

 

See photos:11 Outrageous Ron Swanson Lines From 'Parks and Recreation'

 

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.

 

Also Read:Dances With Films Announces 2014 Lineup, Distribution for Award Winners

 

2015 marks continued expansive growth for DWF as they celebrate their 18th “fiercely independent” festival season. 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.

OPENING NIGHT

THE CHALLENGER (West Coast Premiere)
Writer/Director: Kent Moran
Producers: Adam Hawkey, Ellyette Eleni, Kent Moran
Cast: Kent Moran, Michael Clarke Duncan, S. Epatha Merkerson, Justin Hartley, Frank Watson, Stan Carp, Ernie Sabella
Synopsis: With the help of legendary boxing trainer, Duane Taylor (Michael Clarke Duncan), struggling Bronx auto mechanic Jaden Miller (Kent Moran), turns to boxing to save he and his mother (S. Epatha Merkerson) from living on the streets.

MIDNIGHT FEATURES

21 DAYS (Los Angeles Premiere)
Writer/Director: Kathleen Behun
Producers: Kathleen Behun, Jessica Villegas Lattuada, Fernando Barreda Luna
Cast: Max Hambleton, Whitney Rose-Pynn, Mickey River
Synopsis: Three filmmakers embark on a paranormal challenge by barricading themselves in a house so haunted, no one has been able to live in more than 21 days, in order to film the supernatural phenomena which presumably occur… but nothing can prepare them for the evil that lies in wait…

BAD EXORCISTS (Southern California Premiere)
Writer/Director: Kyle Steinbach
Producers: Kyle Steinbach, Louie Sloss, Zach Shivers
Cast: Sean Roney, Alex Knapp, Julian Master, Claire Berger, Suzanna Akins, Suzanne-Owens Duval, Mia Schauffler
Synopsis: Charlie, Matt and Dana are about to finish high school with little fanfare. In a last-ditch effort to earn their classmates’ respect, the trio aims to win the local horror film festival. Things might finally be going their way–until their attempt to film an exorcism scene results in the demonic possession of their lead actress. The boys are in for a raucous and hilarious weekend as they try to save the girl and somehow finish their film, all while navigating the treacherous world of high school.

THE HORROR (World Premiere)
Director: Jerry J White III
Writer: Raymond Creamer
Producers: Kyle Mattocks, Jerry J White III, Raymond Creamer, Sarah Carman
Cast: Raymond Creamer, Callie Ott, Lexi Moeller, Chris Oliver, Schell Michael
Synopsis: After their parents’ death, Malcolm and Isabel Rademacher travel to Michigan to shutter their family’s lake house for winter. While there, they discover that they aren’t alone and are made to fight for their survival; a fight that will continue long after the violence ends.

MIDNIGHT SHORTS

BLOOD TRUST (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Alberto Di Troia
Producers: Laura Faulkner
Cast: Margherita Peluso, Frank Fazio, Enzo Mercadante
Synopsis: A murderous Italian mama must protect her snake-obsessed son from brutal school bullies and dark family secrets.

THE DARK COMES QUICK (World Premiere)
Director: Chris Martens
Writers: Pablo I. Castrillo, Chris Martens
Producers:Chris Martens, Chase Mohseni
Cast: Johnathan Brugal, Garrett Marchbank, John Kyle Sutton
Synopsis: When a group of PHD students break into an abandoned mine in Mexico in search of an underground Aztec temple and find evidence of a dangerous force deep in the mine, they must decide whether or not to continue and face the consequences.

LARRY GONE DEMON (West Coast Premiere)
Writer/Director: Matthew John Lawrence
Producers: Matthew John Lawrence, Michael Lawrence, Kristina Berger, and Nicholas Santos
Cast: Charles Parker Newton, Jeffrey Riddle, Kristina Berger, and Ryan Conrath
Synopsis: A frenetic, punk-rock nightmare centering on one asshole of a roommate. When three twenty-somethings must deal with the incorrigible and incredibly demonic Larry, they risk life and limb in an attempt to save the soul of their once-kind-and-unassuming friend while also procuring his five-hundred dollars in back rent. Black metal, excrement, Russian gangs, bowling priests, and aborted fetuses collide in this riotous horror-comedy.

LIFELINE (West Coast Premiere)
Writer/Director: Jeffery Wang
Producers: Heather Wagner, Erica Meredith, Jeffery Wang
Cast: Kathleen Gati, Mark Gantt
Synopsis: When an enigmatic traveler with an unusual lifeline pays a visit to Madame Golorio’s psychic parlor, the ailing palm reader is compelled to take the future into her own hands. Lifeline is a darkly comedic exploration of the depths one person will sink to save herself and the lengths another will go to in order to lose himself. The brainchild of director Jeffery Wang, it’s a slapstick, bloody battle between mortality and immortality.

LUNA & LARS (Los Angeles Premiere)
Director: Anna Zlokovic
Writer: Lia Woodward
Producers: Simona Kessler, Anna Zlokovic, Lia Woodward
Synopsis: Forgotten relics confined to an attic shelf, Luna and Lars lay dormant by day and awaken by night to dance in their toy theater home. The blissful waltz proves the sustaining ritual for the otherwise inanimate puppets, uniting them in an ardent love-trance. One night, Lars discovers a large mirror cloaked in the dusty recesses of the theater. Entranced by its mystical allure and a newfound hypnotic waltz, he at once departs into a dark world that Luna cannot penetrate. This mournful romance awakens the possibility that within great loss, hope still remains.

THE PERIPHERAL (West Coast Premiere)
Writer/Director: JT Seaton
Producers: Kris Brown, JT Seaton
Cast: Lynn Lowry, Randy Frank
Synopsis: When a patient, Kenny, shows up at her home unexpectedly, Dr. Joanna Redding attempts to help him overcome his “irrational” phobia of the creatures that he sees in his peripheral vision. Of course, the creatures that terrify Kenny are very real – and very deadly. It is a horrifying discovery that Dr. Redding uncovers all too late.

SAID AND DONE (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Gabriel Younes
Producers: Andrew Cummings, Gabriel Younes
Cast: Tavis Balkin, Whitney Moore, Bob Guck, Kinsey Diment, John Kviklys, Jenna Morrison, Samantha Desman, Mike Nikolla, Joshua Crenshaw, Ryan Matheson, Jacob Solano, Shane Lincoln, Robert Guck
Synopsis: A group of rowdy twenty-somethings, who are enjoying a sun drenched joy ride are kidnapped by a mysterious group of masked killers after car troubles leave them stranded.

SOCCER MOMS IN PERIL (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Damian K. Lahey
Producers: Christie Cole, Craig Moorhead, Christian Skelley
Cast: Tarah DeSpain, Robyn Ross, Robert Ross
Synopsis: After a night out, a suburban soccer mom wakes up tied to a chair in a dark basement.

FUSION FEATURES

ACTOR FOR HIRE (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Marcus Mizelle
Producers: Marcus Mizelle, Jillian Longnecker
Cast: Jesse O’Neill, Joel Hogan, Hollie Shay, Jandres Burgos, Greg Perrow, Najee De-Tiege, Jesse C. Boyd, Brittany Finamore, JT Alexander
Synopsis: A bald, out of work actor finds immediate and overwhelming success when he discovers the power of persona in the form of a cheap wig.

THE AFTERMATH (World Premiere)
Director: Tim McCann
Writer: Tim McCann, Shaun Sanghani
Producers: Shaun Sanghani, Benjamin Bickham
Cast: Sam Trammell, Vanessa Ferlito, Missy Yager
Synopsis: Sonny, a heartbroken man who has fallen into drug addiction, becomes obsessed with returning a necklace to his estranged wife for their anniversary. When the necklace is stolen by a gang of criminals led by a tough small-town madame named Franki, Sonny risks his life to navigate the seedy underbelly of his small Louisiana town to get it back.

THE AMATEUR: OR (REVENGE OF THE QUADRICORN) (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Carlton Sugarman
Producers: Lauren Schneider, Tara Jane
Cast: Joey Baldwin, Carlotta Elektra Bosch, Jere Burns, Jeannetta Arnette
Synopsis: “The Amateur” is a gritty, naturalistic musical drama exploring the chaotic journey of artistic pursuit in contemporary Los Angeles. Joey takes his music very seriously. The rest of his life, not so much. “The Amateur” tells the tale of a broke — and sometimes broken — artist navigating the LA music scene. Riding the highs and nursing the hangovers, his journey leads him through various experiences, both personal and professional, that shed a new light on the things that really matter.

A YEAR AND CHANGE (World Premiere)
Director: R. Stephen Suettinger
Writer: Jim Beggarly, R. Stephen Suettinger
Producers: Emily Ting, R. Stephen Suettinger
Cast: Bryan Greenberg, Claire van der Boom, T.R. Knight, Marshall Allman, Jamie Chung, Jamie Hector, Kat Foster, Natasha Rothwell, Drew Shugart, Dan Thiel, Kate Sanford, Woody Schultz, Cruz Kim, Alison Whitney, Cassidy Thornton, Gene Ferrick, Laurie Folkes
Synopsis: After drunkenly falling off the roof at a New Year’s house party, Owen decides that it’s time to make some wholesale changes in his life. Over the next year, he re-enters his estranged son’s life, reignites old friendships, quits drinking, and falls in love with Vera, a bank teller and fellow divorcee…all in an attempt to surround himself with a family – subconsciously replacing the one he’d lost prematurely. Owen, a vending machine proprietor, soon finds that sometimes in life, you just need a little change.

DEVIL IN DISGUISE (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Guillaume Campanacci
Producers: Yphan Chhang, Jonathan Haylock, Magen Mattox, Alain Fabian, Pierre Antoine Tissot, Guillaume Campanacci
Cast: Magen Mattox, Montanna Gillis, Guillaume Campanacci, Tad Brown, Laura Walker, Ed Feldman, Vedrana Egon, Christopher Shin, Kelsie Macray, Mike McCarthy, Pilar Arias
Synopsis: “Devils in Disguise” centers around two flatmates, Leila (Magen Mattox) and Sandy (Montanna Gillis), who conspire to take revenge on Leila’s sadistic boyfriend (Guillaume Campanacci). It is underlined with violence and told through strong, non-linear structure, with poetic and sensual imagery. In essence, it’s a meditation on friendship, love, trust, and murder, presented to us as a perfect blend of reality and dream-like fantasy sequences.

DIG TWO GRAVES (Los Angeles Premiere)
Director: Hunter Adams
Writer: Hunter Adams, Jeremy Phillips
Producers: Claire Connelly, PJ Fishwick, Hunter Adams
Cast: Ted Levine, Samantha Isler, Troy Ruptash, Danny Goldring
Synopsis: A young girl’s obsession with her brother’s mysterious death leads her on a nightmarish journey where she is faced with a deadly proposition to bring him back.

DIRTY BEAUTIFUL (LOS ANGELES PREMIERE)
Writer/Director: Tim Bartell
Producers: Justin Hogan, Cameron McIntyre, Tim Bartell
Cast: Ricky Mabe, Jordan Monaghan, Conor Leslie, Darin Heames, Zoe Chao, Stu James
Synopsis: In a comically nightmarish mash-up of opposites attracting, a struggling writer brings a shiftless young beauty into his L.A. apartment, where her bad habits crash head-on with his orderly life. Just as they’re about to completely destroy each other, fate throws them an unexpected curve.

HELLO, MY NAME IS FRANK (Los Angeles Premiere)
Director: Dale Peterson
Writer: Margaret Kerrison, Christine Bartsch
Producers: Chris Pluchar, Wendy Peterson
Cast: Garrett M. Brown, Rachel DiPillo, Hayley Kiyoko, Mary Kate Wiles, Travis Caldwell, Wayne Duvall, Brent Briscoe, Tess Harper
Synopsis: After his caretaker dies, a sweet and lovable hermit with severe Tourette Syndrome is thrust into the world when he is dragged along on a road trip with three teenage girls.

HONEYGLUE (Los Angeles Premiere)
Writer/Director: James Bird
Producers: Anya Remizova, Adriana Mather, James Bird
Cast: Adriana Mather, Christopher Heyerdahl, Jessica Tuck, Booboo StewartAmanda Plummer, Zach Villa, Fernanda Romero
Synopsis: After learning she only has three months to live, Morgan flips her conservative protected life upside down. That is where she meets Jordan, a purse snatching cross-dresser art school dropout, who takes her on adventure of a lifetime.

WELCOME TO HAPPINESS (Los Angeles Premiere)
Writer/Director: Oliver Thompson
Producers: Bay Dariz, Kyle Gallner, Molly C. Quinn, Oliver Thompson
Cast: Kyle GallnerOlivia ThirlbyNick Offerman, Keegan-Michael Key, Brendan Sexton III, Josh Brener, Molly C. Quinn, Paget BrewsterFrances Conroy
Synopsis: A children’s book author, Woody Ward, is the gatekeeper to a mysterious door in his closet that only allows certain people to enter. One such person, a suicidal artist, is led down a rabbit hole of bizarre coincidences that ultimately bring him to Woody’s doorstep. Though he has no idea where the door leads, Woody happily shepherds people through until he finds out the truth and his life is forever changed.

WILDLIKE (Los Angeles Premiere)
Writer/Director: Frank Hall Green
Producers: Joseph Stephans, Julie Christeas, Schuyler Weiss, Christine Vachon
Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Ella Purnell, Brian Geraghty, Ann Dowd, Nolan Funk, Diane Farr
Synopsis: In Frank Hall Green’s riveting directorial debut, compelling performances set in breathtaking Alaskan landscapes deliver a taut, emotional story.  Troubled 14-year-old girl Mackenzie is sent by her struggling mother to live with her uncle in Juneau, Alaska.  At first he seems a supportive caretaker, but when he takes advantage of her, she must flee.  Lost with no one to turn to, she shadows a widowed older backpacker (Bruce Greenwood) into the Alaskan interior where she forms an unlikely friendship in the spectacular wilderness. Together they must confront her predicament despite the outdoor sanctuary of America’s last frontier.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

2E: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL (West Coast Premiere)
Director/Producer: Thomas Ropelewski
Synopsis: 2e: Twice Exceptional focuses on Bridges Academy, a school in Los Angeles dedicated exclusively to understanding and educating students who have been identified as “twice exceptional” – highly gifted or talented individuals with learning disabilities or differences. These students are our next-gen geniuses, mavericks and dreamers – Malcolm Gladwell’s budding “outliers.” They may grow up to change the world… if they can survive the American school system and their own eccentricities.

THE ATAXIAN (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Zack Bennett, Kevin Schlanser
Producers: Zack Bennett, Kevin Schlanser, Nate Adams
Synopsis: Confined to a wheelchair due to the progressive neuromuscular disorder, Friedreich’s Ataxia, Kyle Bryant and a team of friends attempt the most grueling bicycle race in the world, The Race Across America. The Ataxian is a feature length documentary about a man whose will and determination carry him and his teammates across a continent under almost impossible conditions. Stunning cinematography in The Ataxian exposes raw, unfiltered emotions juxtaposed against the most inspiring landscapes across America. With purity and grace The Ataxian examines the life of a man aggressively living every moment.

F R E E (Los Angeles Premiere)
Directors/Producers: David Collier, Suzanne LaFetra
Synopsis: F R E E is a documentary that follows five teens through a year in a dance program in Oakland, California. In a city infamous for violence and high drop out rates, Destiny Arts provides an oasis. Each year 20 diverse students are selected for the Youth Performance Company, where they will create a performance based on their own lives. When the youth have a chance to move their bodies and share their stories, things change for them. Their journey reveals how collaborative art can be a foundation for personal discovery, illuminating a path to freedom

HARRY & SNOWMAN (Southern California Premiere)
Director: Ron Davis
Producers: Ron Davis, Karin Reid Offield, Paul Winston Blavin, Clay Westervelt, Nancy Stanton Talcott
Synopsis: Dutch immigrant buys broken down Amish plow-horse off a slaughter truck bound for the glue factory for $80 and names him Snowman. The horse gives him his heart and turns out to be a record-breaking high jumper and winner of the show jumping Triple Crown, an unprecedented two years in a row. Their Cinderella love story has endured for more than sixty years even under difficult circumstances.

STILLPOINT (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Penny Peyser
Producers: Penny Peyser, Doug McIntyre
Cast: Tom Lodge, Patricia Lodge, Safi Ahbeeti, Kareem Elbasty
Synopsis: I hadn’t seen my sister in years. She had joined a cult, changed her name, become a disciple of a Zen master called “Umi” and cut off most contact with our family. Why anyone, let alone my sister, would make this radical choice was a mystery – and she offered few clues. I realized if I was ever going to reconnect, I’d have to cast off my prejudices and enter her world . While “Stillpoint” isn’t about my sister – it’s because of her.

THE BIG LONELY (World Premiere)
Director: David Manougian
Producers: David Manougian, Troy Gambee, David Kamens
Synopsis: Sometimes courage comes in the form of heroic feats, other times it can take enormous courage to pick up the pieces of a broken life. After becoming homeless and penniless, rather than live under a bridge, Michael and his dog Tic moved into the middle of a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, and secretly built a cabin on government land. In this uniquely filmed documentary you are immersed in Michaels world. You feel hungry as he fights starvation, shiver when he’s cold, cry when he relives a life gone wrong, and celebrate with him the simplest of life’s beauties.

THEORY OF OBSCURITY: A FILM ABOUT THE RESDIENTS (Los Angeles Premiere)
Writer/Director: Don Hardy
Producers: Don Hardy, Barton Bishoff, Josh Keppel
Cast: Matt Groening, Les Claypool, Penn Jillette, Gary Panter, Jerry Harrison, Chris Cutler, Homer Flynn, Hardy Fox, John Kennedy, Jay Clem, Molly Harvey
Synopsis: THEORY OF OBSCURITY tells the story of the renegade sound and video collective The Residents. A story that spans over 40 years and is clouded in mystery. Many details surrounding the group are secret, including the identities of its members.

YOU SEE ME (World Premiere)
Director: Linda J. Brown
Producers: Linda J. Brown, Rebecca Louisell, James Crawford
Cast: Don Hardy
Synopsis: Filmmaker Linda Brown’s father embodied 1960s masculinity. But when a devastating stroke leaves him vulnerable and dependent, Linda decides to confront the silence surrounding his troubled and violent past. Drawing on home movies, family photos and interviews, she reveals secrets, uncovers lies, and discovers a redeeming treasure in a lost family video. The result is an engrossing journey about the danger of carrying unresolved grief to our graves. You See Me is a brave, inspiring and empowering film that documents the essence of the human condition and seeks to face the past with courage in order to change the future.

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

CZAPPA (World Premiere)
Director: Ric Serena
Producers: Ric Serena, Jen Serena, Odessa Boyadjian De Souza
Cast: Bill Czappa
Synopsis: Bill Czappa is a television repairman, however his real passion is sculpture based on found objects. Bill’s repair shop doubles as his gallery and supplies materials to build his art, but as consumers are more inclined to replace electronics rather than repair, Bill reassesses the expense of his creative endeavors.

MAN IN THE CAN (West Coast Premiere)
Director/Producer: Noessa Higa
Cast: Ronald Burton, T.C. Long, Aaron Enget
Synopsis: Man in the Can chronicles the personal journey of a minor league rodeo clown trying to make it to the major leagues before he gets taken out by a bull. Rodeo clowning isn’t just Ronald’s job; it’s his calling. The film not only provides an inside look at the tight-knit rodeo community and small-town America, but is also a universal story about following your dream, second chances, and the sacrifices that come with pursuing your passion.

SKATEBOARDING’S FIRST WAVE (Los Angeles Premiere)
Director: Don Bugrerss
Writer: Ed Buhr
Producers: Don Burgess, Jennifer Calbi, Genevieve Farrell
Cast: Barry Blenkhorn Williams, Scott Blenkhorn, Colleen (Boyd) Turner, PhD, Lt Col, USAFR, Retired, Peter Burg, Don Burgess, Ric Burgess, Donna Cash Harris, Jerry Giancola, Kevin Jones, Terry Keller, Tim Keller, Chris Picciolo, Rick Purcell, Suzie Rowland Levin, Burke Murphy & Shane Murphy
Synopsis: A look at the early days of skateboarding culture in Southern California, and the group of kids that would shape its role in the media and in society.

WENTZEL (World Premiere)
Director/Producer: Amanda Macchia
Cast: Barrie Wentzell
Synopsis: Wentzell: A Short Documentary captures the work of Barrie Wentzell, a photographer who casually took a job at Britain’s Melody Maker magazine in the 1960s after a chance encounter with Diana Ross, and ended up creating timeless portraits of legendary musicians from Hendrix to Clapton and the Beatles to the Stones for ten years.

WILDMAN ATHLETICA (LOS ANGELES PREMIERE)
Director/Producer: Erin Brown
Cast: Troian Bellisario, Christa B Allen, Mark Wildman, Chanon Finley, Babar Peerzada, Erin Brown
Synopsis: “A physical trainer illuminates how his unconventional exercise techniques better enhance both mind and body.” Documentary profile on celebrity trainer Mark Wildman. Wildman engages his clients with unique circus arts such as aerial silks, along with full-armored combat, clubbells, real machete duels, and tactical fitness. Included are several of his clients: Troian Bellisario (PRETTY LITTLE LIARS), Christa B. Allen (REVENGE), Chanon Finley (MAD MEN), Babar Peerzada (LIONS FOR LAMBS), and director Erin Brown.

FUSION SHORTS

A MAN WAKES UP (West Coast Premiere)
Director: Voki Kalfayan
Writer: Amos Glick
Producers: Amos Glick, Andy Bobrow, Betty Glick, Thomas F. Glick, Peach Grodsky, Saville Kellner, Corina MacLean, Todd VonBastiaans
Cast: Amos Glick, Jimmy Slonina
Synopsis: The story of a man immersed in a life of habit and routine who, though lonely to the outside eye, seems content to live his stark existence. One morning he awakes to discover an unexplained change in his routine, his apartment, his life!

AXIOM (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Ashley Eberbach
Producers: Philip Jessen, Andrew Montanez
Cast: Hannah Landberg, Aqueela Zoll, Kaley Victoria Rose, Patrick Barnitt, Edward Sarkisov, Chris Kinkade
Synopsis: “Axiom” is a high fashion action/sci fi film set in the near future when advances in technology and robotics are not just threatening society but also humanity. Lead protagonist Ari’s childhood love for her own robot has led her to rebel against her father and declare allegiance to her robot-trafficking cousin. Now, her cousin’s robots are destroying peace-loving communities and killing innocent people, including a group her father started called Free Street. As Ari races to save her father and brothers, she is forced to determine whether technology has become a savior or a killer.

BLUFFING (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Tegan Shohet
Producers: Christina Dow, Anne Sawyier
Cast: Lester Keefe, Jonny Jay, Rachelle DiMaria
Synopsis: A down-on-his-luck poker player tries one last bluff to save his marriage.

CALL YOU LATER (World Premiere)
Writer/Director/Producer: Adam Zielinski
Cast: Alexandria Lee, Ben Gaskell
Synopsis: A guy looking for love

COMING TO (West Coast Premiere)
Director: Lindsey Haun
Writer: Nick Roth, Lindsey Haun, Tony De Marco
Producers: Nick Roth, Joe Rubinstein
Cast: Jacob DeMonte-Finn
Synopsis: A man wakes up in a Koreatown hallway, naked except for a cock ring and a frilly scarf. Shot in one continuous five-minute take, Coming To follows the true story of a young man who wakes up from a meth relapse, as he puts together the pieces of how he got there. Ultimately, he faces a difficult decision in where he’s going next. Coming To is a story about loneliness, the search for identity, and the difficult choice between comfort and happiness.

THE DANGLE (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Michael E. Ravich
Producers: Michael E. Ravich, Victor Solis
Cast: James Liebman, Michael Keeley, Shannon Lee Clair
SYNOPSIS: The year is 1975, and Tom Ryder has made too many mistakes. This American spy is given one last chance in Moscow to prove his worth to the agency when Boss reluctantly assigns him a mission of the utmost importance. He must complete a routine exchange with a known enemy operative… But she is The Red Mantis, the world’s greatest mercenary, and she has plans of her own.

DEATH TO CUPID (World Premiere)
Director: Joe Gonzales
Writers: Joe Gonzales, Bradford N. Smith
Producers: Joe Gonzales, Bradford N. Smith, Jennifer Alva, Amy Smith, Mickey Casab, Ben Boles
Cast: Matthew Swanson, Nicole Dambro, Donovan Scott, Suzanne Cotsakos, Carlos Alazraqui
Synopsis: A lifetime of failed relationships leads one man down a dark path of revenge as he hunts down the person he blames for his misfortune. Death to Cupid tackles the darker side of love and what it can lead the broken hearted to do.

DRONE (West Coast Premiere)
Director: Justin S. Lee
Writer: Tony Rettenmaier
Producers: Abi Damaris Corbin, Jess Gordon Maldaner
Cast: Daniel Sharman, Michael Trucco
Synopsis: A rookie Air Force drone pilot finds himself increasingly attached to a target he watches from halfway around the world.

HELP YOURSELF (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Sean Eisele
Producers: Sean Eisele, Brian Overend
Cast: Connor White, Jesse Wiza
Synopsis: A disgruntled telemarketer struggles to keep his composure at work after he discovers an outlet for his rage by disguising himself as a ranting homeless man on his lunch breaks.

INTERRUPTED (World Premiere)
Director: Andrew Brown
Writer: Ryan Elkins
Producer: Nerris Nassiri
Cast: Pavle Kujundzic , Greg Lucey
Synopsis: A thief steals from the wrong house.

JAM (North American Premiere)
Writer/Director: Sandy Garfunkel
Producers: Lanie Zipoy,  Allan Michie
Cast: Dina Ann Comolli, Allen Enlow, Zachary Mackiewicz
Synopsis: When an extraordinary superhero appears in her car, Principal Hodes finds that helping him is the only way to get out of the jam she’s in.

MUSE (Los Angeles Premiere)
Writer/Director: Christopher Leps
Producers: Christopher Leps, Alex Madison, Victoria Alexander
Cast: Dave Engfer, Ashley Platz, Corey Rieger, Lauren Reeder, Kerry Hennessy
Synopsis: It’s a day like any other. A cafe bustles with activity; the perfect environment for an impassioned artist to find inspiration. And like so many days before, the girl of his dreams is only a few tables away. However, on this day, our artist finds the fortitude to turn the dream into reality… but the outcome is not at all what he expects. “Be careful what you set your heart on, for it will surely be yours.”

MY BEST FRIEND’S DEATH (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PREMIERE)
Director: Eric McCoy
Writer: Sam Miller, Justus Meyer
Producer: Justus Meyer
Cast: Mitch Lerner, Max Lesser
Synopsis: A comedy about a guy who tries to kill himself, and when the Grim Reaper arrives, the two discover they went to high school together.

PAPER PLANES (North American Premiere)
Director: Leslie Brockett
Writer: Jennifer W. Long
Producers: Jennifer W. Long, Josh Babich, Leslie Brockett
Cast: Jennifer W. Long, Brooke Lenzi, Nichole Funicelli, Chad Ridgely, Madeline Hamer
Synopsis: A short film about the crazy little things we do for love….

THE RING THING (World Premiere)
Wrtier/Director: Friederike Jehn
Producer: Sandra Seeling Lipski
Cast: Sandra Seeling Lipski, Daniel Dorr, Emily Behr, Ed Mattiuzzi
Synopsis: A couple, a pool, a ring.One misunderstanding leads to the next, pushing this relationship to the edge. A couple finds an engagement ring setting in motion a silly game which starts to questions their playful bond. Who stands where? Who wants what? How serious is this, or is it all just a game? Their un-troublesome piece-of-cake relationship is being reassessed by the constant question: What are you afraid of?

SELLING ROSARIO (LOS ANGELES PREMIERE)
Writer/Director: Michael Winokur & Iana Simeonov
Producer: Emily Miller
Cast: Mia Xitlali, Robert Renderos, Cristina Valle, Alma Martinez, Julieta Ortiz
Synopsis: A family of migrant workers send their 12-year-old daughter and her outlaw cousin into the night on the promise of a stranger. It’s a risky plan, expect to be surprised.

SHELTER (West Coast Premiere)
Writer/Director: R. J. Daniel Hanna
Producers: Ian Ward, Elizabeth Barnes, Marlane Barnes
Cast: Clea DuVall, April Grace, Steven Lee Allen
Synopsis: At a county animal shelter, Petra (Clea DuVall), a women’s prison trustee, works to socialize a dog deemed too aggressive for society. As tensions build between herself and her hardened supervisor (April Grace), Petra will have to make a choice between what is best for her parole and what she feels is right.

STARMAN (West Coast Premiere)
Director: Josema Roig
Writer: Derek Ustruck
Producer: Jo Henriquez
Cast: Travis Myers, Frank Clem, Kym Jackson
Synopsis: Still living in the past, a has-been daredevil struggles with who he is now that the world has left him behind. Despite all warnings from his friends and family, Wyatt Star sets out to undertake the greatest jump ever made, in a desperate attempt to once again become the great STARMAN.

TRACTION (West Coast Premiere)
Writer/Director: Rory Uphold
Producers: Lije Sarki, Rory Uphold
Cast: Rory Uphold, Ahmed Bharoocha, Baron Vaughn, Jackie Singer
Synopsis: Traction is a dark comedy about an awkward first date.

WAITING FOR YOU (North American Premiere)
Writer/Director: Susan Matus
Producers: Jeremy Jed Hammel, Susan Matus, Michael Irby
Cast: Ralph Michiel, Dalit Berkowitz, Catherine Grace Espinoza
Synopsis: An old man finds himself alone and emotionally lost while struggling with the perplexities and the finality of his existence. After a year of absence, his daughter, returns to help him move through his uncertainty and fear by leading him to a simpler and more forward place of acceptance. “Waiting for You” is about living for love, dying with love and the subtle space between the two. Inspired by true events “Waiting for You” methodically leads you on an unexpected journey.

DOWNBEAT

ALIVE TO POSSIBILTY (World Premiere)
Director: Jonathan Keijser
Writer: Jonathan Keijser, Dingwen Mei, Naomi Iwamoto
Producers: Daniel Beresh, Haley Geier
Cast: Todd Brown, Jorge Millan, Benjamin Zander
Synopsis: Can one’s perception of a situation change the situation itself? “Alive To Possibility” is the uplifting story of three men from vastly different backgrounds and how each has chosen to be “alive to possibility” when facing the road bumps in life.

ALL SEASONS BECOME ONE (West Coast Premiere)
Director: Shannon Michael Terry
Writers: Diana Shui-Iu Wong, Shannon Michael Terry
Producers: Mike Freze, Shannon Michael Terry, Demitra Tsioulos
Cast: Diana Shui-Iu Wong
Synopsis: An unconventional narrative with no dialogue: driven by music and sound.
An artist paints the four seasons as her alter ego travels thru a realm of inspiration. Once the artist has realized the final season, the alter ego arrives at the completed painting. What happens next is a reflection of humanity’s relationship to nature and the never-ending power of creativity.

CARRY (North American Premiere)
Director: Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore
Cast: Travers Ross, Yukino McHugh
Synopsis: Carry is a song about being there for someone, helping them and loving them through hard times. We are all affected in one way or another by hardship at some point in our lives. We want to celebrate the people, the animals, the communities that are carrying and caring for those that are needing help, love and support. Dedicated to the lost boys club all over the world, the ones that we lost, the ones that we save, the ones that we love.

DANCE WITH ME (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Christopher G. Ciccone
Producer: Carmen Quiros
Cast: Sarah Dashew
Synopsis: Music Video for song

HIGH (U.S. Premiere)
Writer/Director: Guro Ekornholmen
Producers: Guro Ekornholmen, Anne-Brit Soma Reienes
Cast: Rebekka Garden, Jonathan Duek
Synopsis: She wants him and he wants her, but still the misty, young, Norwegian love between them isn’t enough.

RED: JADUDAH (North American Premiere)
Writer/Director: Maida Hals
Producers: Odd Levi Paulsen, Julev film AS
Cast: Kari Simonsen, Per Tofte, Andrea Rosli, Benjamin Lønne Røsler
Synopsis: A wedding photo captures the love for a short moment, a strange moment that might last an eternity.

SILVER GIRL (West Coast Premiere)
Director: Min Reid
Writers: JR Richards, Stacey Fergusson
Producers: Min Reid, JR Richards
Cast: Oriana Sanders, Don Fergusson, Stacey Fergusson, Jon Payne
Synopsis: Silver Girl is a beautiful music video shot in the stunning Highlands of Scotland, taking the audience on a journey finding the silver linings in life…The lyrics of Silver Girl were written by co-founder of the band ‘Vanaka’, Stacey Fergusson, when she was inspired by the courage and strength of her close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Oriana Sanders, the Featured Lead Singer in Silver Girl is herself a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer Survivor. Director Min Reid conceptualized the story, taking the viewer on a journey starting with the simplicity of a match strike through to a tremendously uplifting ending. Breathtaking aerial footage of ‘Old Man of Storr’, Eilean Donan Castle and other majestic Highland beauty adds to the depth of this film.

SO WHAT (World Premiere)
Director: Maria Capp
Writers: Raffaela Capp, Jason Letkiewicz
Producers: Cappricielli, Inc., John Caffera/EUE Screen Gems, Gargoyle Films
Cast: Raffaela Capp
Synopsis: A wildly colorful, beat-driven pop song about the only thing you can really say to iffy guys and mixed messages: “So what?”

STILL BEAUTIFUL (West Coast Premiere)
Director: Min Reid
Writer: JR Richards, Stacey Fergusson
Producers: Min Reid, JR Richards
Cast: JR Richards, Don Fergusson, Stacey Fergusson, Jon Payne, Spud The Piper, Kate Kadow, Ryan Camou
Synopsis: The lyrics of ‘Still Beautiful’ emerged after the ‘Sandy Hook Tragedy’, as songwriter Stacey Fergusson reached to explain the tragedy to her 10 year old child. Director Min Reid felt the only way to personify such deep emotion with respect was through the stunning art form of ballet. ‘Still Beautiful’ is performed by Vanaka, featuring JR Richards (Original Lead Singer / Songwriter of ‘Dishwalla’) on vocals, whom also produced and co-wrote the song. The Sandy Hook Promise have both embraced and endorsed ‘Still Beautiful’ and now incorporate some of the lyrics within their speeches… those words being ‘Let Love Lead’.

STOP ALL JERK! (World Premiere)
Writer/Director: Armel Gourvennec
Producers: Nicolas Meliand, Sam Magal
Cast: Joffrey Platel, Enzo Zumaglini, Greg Gohou, Lucien Lefebvre, Michel D’oz, Toussaint Burelli, Aliénor Seydoux, Chris Orlandi, Henri Costa, Gabriel Martin
Synopsis: Are you one of those ? Do you remember the fifties? No?, So please stop it and go for a ride!

WIRED MONKEY: BY LINCOLN’S BEARD (World Premiere)
Director: Johnny Winningham
Writers: Brandon Chrisopulos, Johnny Winningham
Producers: Johnny Winningham, David Alonzo
Cast: Joey LeBard
Synopsis: The music of Lincoln’s Beard visually comes to life in this quirky tale for one stressed out ‘wired monkey’ and his quest to escape a world out of balance to one where he can finally reveal his true self.

Andrew Cummings