Co-founded by Kelly Hargraves in 2001 Dance Camera West (DCW) will present the 21st edition of its annual film festival January 19-21, 2023 at Barnsdall Art Park in its historic Gallery Theatre and beautiful hilltop campus. DCW 2023 will include the premiere of 60 plus national and international films selected from 350 submissions. Also, making its Los Angeles premiere is filmmaker Bridget Murnane’s documentary film BELLA (Trailer), honoring one of the country’s modern dance pioneers Bella Lewitzky. Located at 4814 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 the Barnsdall Art Park campus overlooks the greater Los Angeles area and includes the iconic Hollyhock House built between 1919 and 1921 as an ode to California by Frank Lloyd Wright for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, and later inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List along with seven other Wright sites. Tickets for DCW are on sale now.

Exterior view of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House in Los Angeles' Barnsdall Art Park

Exterior view of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles’ Barnsdall Art Park

With this in mind, in addition to screenings taking place inside the Gallery Theatre the festival has added outdoor screenings in case there is another upsurge in Covid cases. The festival includes a Filmmaker Luncheon, workshop, and discussion with dancer/filmmaker Gabri Christa, Visibility Program, and a tour of the Hollyhock House that will add to the sense of kinship and a return to community.

Kelly Hargraves - Photo courtesy of the artist.

Kelly Hargraves – Photo courtesy of the artist.

“People are coming back!” Kelly Hargraves said during our interview. “We have a lot of filmmakers attending and saying that they are bringing cast and crew, so it feels like it is going to be a real back to community.” With 60 films screening, this would be exciting for everyone.

As someone who has not had an opportunity to visit the Gallery Theatre, I asked Hargraves to describe it to me.

“Having spent most of my LA life in Silver Lake, it’s kind of in our backyard” She said. “Most of us in that area have sent kids to classes at the Junior Arts Center, been up there for wine tastings, and movies on Friday nights. The Silver Lake Music Conservatory has their concerts there, so for me it is a neighborhood. It’s a beautiful space up on a hill so that you have this panoramic view of the city. In one view you get the observatory and the Hollywood sign and a beautiful sunset on the other hillside. Beyond its location, there is the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture of the Hollyhock House and the theater.”

Wright was the architect for the Hollyhock House and Residence Artist but it was Rudolf Schindler who actually finished these buildings. Schindler also designed Dance Theater founded by Lester Horton, Bella Lewitzky, Newell Reynolds and William Bowne. The Gallery Theater is owned and operated by Performing Arts in the City of Los Angeles’s Department of Cultural Affairs. It is a 299-seat proscenium space and organizations or individuals can rent it at nominal fees for live theatre, dance, music, spoken word, lectures, films, and other events.

While DCW is proud of its focus on highlighting the new-now-next filmmakers, Hargraves wishes to also honor the legacy of the artform which was primarily pioneered by women. In past years the festival highlighted and honored women like Roberta Shaw and Katrina McPherson who have worked in the field for more than 20 years. “That is why Gabri (Christa) and Bridget (Murnane) are bookends of the festival and in between are 60 people, who may be making their first or second film – a lot of young professionals.”

Because Bella Lewitzky had such an influence on modern dance in LA and around the globe, a film that has the potential of bringing the community together and being an important LA night is Bridget Murnane’s documentary BELLA. Hargraves expects that the theater will be filled with former Lewitzky company members, fans of her work, dance students, and dancer artists from around the Los Angeles area who may not know Lewitzky’s entire history – that she was not only a dancer, choreographer and teacher, but also as a staunch political activist.

(L-R) Iris Pell and Nora Reynolds Daniel in Bella Lewitzky's "Inscape" - Costume design by Rudi Gernreich - Photo courtesy of DCW

(L-R) Iris Pell and Nora Reynolds Daniel in Bella Lewitzky’s “Inscape” – Costume design by Rudi Gernreich – Photo courtesy of DCW.

Following the pandemic and audiences not yet secure in returning to cinemas or theaters, Hargraves has been turning DCW’s focus toward being an artist service organization. More than anything else right now, having filmmakers attend the festival and honoring people such as Lewitzky and filmmaker Christa, providing the workshops, the luncheon, and having the community come together is extremely important.

Originally from Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean, Gabri Christa is an educator, a filmmaker and has worked as a dancer, and choreographer whose work has been presented nationally and internationally. She performed with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, DanzAbierta and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and is the recipient of the Guggenheim for Choreography, and five Jerome Foundation grants.

Screenshot from Gabri Christga's film "Sheila" - Courtesy of DCW

Screenshot from Gabri Christga’s film “Sheila” – Courtesy of DCW

Hargraves and Christa first met at a dance film symposium. “She runs a festival herself” Hargraves said. “She started a festival that was based on adding diversity to the artform. She has been a leader in that for a long time.” Hargraves added that she does not look at people’s names while selecting films for DCW festival and when they saw that a wonderful film titled SHEILA was by Christa, everyone at DCW agreed to show it at the festival and have Christa be one of the mentors for the Visibility Program and to teach the workshop.

For the Visibility Program, mentors are selected to help BIPOC LA-based filmmakers who have entered films into the festival that could be advanced through this program’s process. Three films were selected for Christa to view and help the filmmakers through the postproduction process.

Parque by Iván Asnicar, Ailén Cafiso (Argentina, 6:30) - Courtesy of DCW

Parque by Iván Asnicar, Ailén Cafiso (Argentina, 6:30) – Courtesy of DCW

Christa, who teaches workshops around the world, will teach a Dance Film Lab on Saturday, January 21st from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Its focus will be on the process of using a single camera and a single shot. “So, you make the entire film without a bunch of editing,” Hargraves explained. “It is about framing for the camera, choreographing the right thing for the camera and setting it up.” Other films of Christa’s will also be shown during the festival. For more information about this workshop, please click HERE.

Christa’s workshop is one of several film workshops that DCW will be offering in 2023. There are those occurring in February, March and April at The Music Center (TMC) of Los Angeles. Other DCW events include the TMC DCW Summer screenings to coincide with the Dutch National Ballet performing Frida, a ballet based on the life of Mexican-born artist Frida Kahlo by Columbian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The Dutch National Ballet will perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion July 14-16, 2023. With this ballet in mind, DCW and TMC will be sending out a call for submissions to Southern California artists to submit a self-portrait. More details to be announced soon.

Taphony (3:25, Zachary Kelley, United States) - Courtesy of DCW

Taphony by Zachary Kelley (3:25, United States) – Courtesy of DCW

DCW’s growing popularity continues with agreements to stream films via PBS’ ALL ARTS and OVID, TV which helps to generate income for the filmmakers as well as expand the audience for this artform.

FEEL THE VOID* by Oxana Safronova (Russia, 2 min 27 sec) - Courtesy of DCW

FEEL THE VOID* by Oxana Safronova (Russia, 2 min 27 sec) – Courtesy of DCW

In case viewers want to attend events in the afternoon and then return for the evening screening of films, the Barnsdall Art Park is located in the LA area known as Los Feliz and it is near Vermont Street which has numerous cafes and restaurants.

“It’s a great location and since we didn’t want to continue to be so nomadic, moving from venue to venue, we’re hoping that we establish roots there,” Hargraves said. “It just feels like the right place.” The Gallery Theatre’s Performing Arts Center Director is artist, dancer, choreographer, and educator Mecca Vazie Andrews.

To watch the DCW Film Festival 2023 Trailer, click HERE.



Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023


This season’s awards were chosen by the current jury committee members:

Gabri Christa
Javier du Frutos
David Rousseve
Clare Schweitzer

DCW’s Awards Categories:

Best Experimental Short: 2-3 in this category
Best Student/First Film
Best Documentary Short
Best Documentary Long
Outstanding Achievement Awards


For more information or any subsequent changes, please visit the Dance Camera West website.

To purchase a Festival Pass, please click HERE:

Purchase a 30% discounted festival pass by Dec. 19, 2022 – $26 value for $100:  Click HERE.

You can also follow DCW on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Vimeo

For more information on the Barnsdall Art Park and it’s historic Gallery Theater, please visit their website.

This article was edited on January 8th to insert information regarding the Gallery Theater.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle with information from Dance Camera West press releases.

Featured image: Northern Ballet’s KIN (10:27, Dan Lowenstein, Kenneth Tindall, United Kingdom) – Courtesy of DCW