Cucalorus: 21 and counting

Celebrating its 21 st birthday this year, the 2015 Cucalorus Film Festival unspools beginning Nov. 11 in Wilmington, boasting a jam-packed line-up of more than 250 independently-made and/or internationally-produced films over a five-day period. Features, shorts, documentaries, animation – they’re all here.

Cucalorus was cited by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” in its 2015 film-festival round-up, and one reason may be indicated in the festival’s “mission statement” regarding its noncompetitive status on the official website, which reads “Cucalorus say: Competition sucks. It often takes hundreds of people to make a film, so why does one guy get the little statue? In order to create an open environment, where ideas are exchanged freely, Cucalorus avoids the competitive tension prevalent at other fests. Laid-back and low-down rule the day in Cucaloria.”

Last year’s 20th-anniversary festival attracted over 15,000 attendees and more than 300 artists, with programs specifically exploring dance, music videos, emerging artists, social justice and international cinema. In addition to the annual festival, Cucalorus has established a residency program, a summer camp for teenaged filmmakers, a micro-cinema, and an ongoing community-engagement program.

For this year’s festival, there were over 1,700 film submissions, and the final program will include the world premiere of Christopher Everett’s much-anticipated documentary feature Wilmington on Fire, which delves into the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. Award-winner Ingrid Veninger’s He Hated Pigeons, Shion Sono’s awardwinning chiller Tag (Riaru onigokko) and Harrison Atkins’ comedy/fantasy Lace Crater (starring Lindsay Burdge, Jennifer Kim and Joe Swanberg) will enjoy their US premieres, and Berndt Mader’s hot-button drama Booger Red will have it Southeast US premiere at Cucalorus.

Four of the short films selected have Piedmont Triad ties: Brad Lambert’s animated short Palmer’s Beard, Alex Moratto’s dramatic short Nowhere to Be Found, Rick Dillwood and Carrie Hart’s documentary short QORDS Camp, and Ryan Walker’s music video Dreams Part I. These are just a few of the wide variety of films being shown.

In addition, there will be seminars, panel discussions … and, oh yes, there will be parties.

It’s been more than two decades since Twinkle Doon, a collective of 12 Wilmingtonbased filmmakers, screened 16 short films from North Carolina in an event dubbed “An Evening of Celluloid Art, a film festival for open minds.”

All of it took place in a single night, but the seeds were sown and Cucalorus blossomed into the big-screen bash it has become, a celebration of cinema that brings filmmakers and film buffs together for five days of fun. !


The 2015 Cucalorus Film Festival (Cucalorus 21) runs Nov. 11-15 at various venues in downtown Wilmington. For a complete schedule of events, screenings and ticket prices, call 910.343.5995, e-mail, or visit the official festival website: