Surfalorus Film Festival Announces Call For Entry


Wilmington, NC — Cucalorus announces the official call for entries for the sixth annual Surfalorus Film Festival being held September 21-23 on the Outer Banks.

Surfalorus is a premier collaboration between Dare County Arts Council and Wilmington, NC-based Cucalorus Festival, which will celebrate its 23rd anniversary this fall. Surfalorus is an annual showcase of the year’s coolest surf films and ocean documentaries.

“Surfalorus has really found its home on the Outer Banks,” said Cucalorus Executive Director Dan Brawley. “The festival showcases a range of films, from super shorties to features, that show how you can translate the pure stoke of surfing onto the big screen. And hidden within these tasty journeys you get to know the surfers, shapers, photographers, beach bums and occasional odd birds who define the lifestyle.”

Outer Banks filmmakers, watermen and outdoor enthusiasts can enter their original short and feature film submissions at Regular deadline for entry is June 2 and “Surfalorus” should be put in the signature section of the online entry form. Contact for more information about submitting your film.

The free, family-friendly event will feature international, regional and local surf film screenings at various venues on the Outer Banks. Surfalorus screenings will be held at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head (Thursday, September 21), Dare County Arts Council in Manteo (Friday, September 22), and the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills (Saturday, September 23). Screening times will be released at a later date.

Other aquatic activities will also take place during Surfalorus, including a surf art exhibit at Dare County Arts Council’s Gallery in Downtown Manteo.

“We are super excited to bring Surfalorus to the Outer Banks again this year,” said Dare County Arts Council Programs Director Fay Davis Edwards. “In addition to incredible short and feature length films, this year’s festival will be coupled with an exhibit of historic surfboards curated by Steve Wise, and a photography exhibit honoring the late Mickey McCarthy curated by Daniel Pullen. Surfalorus is going to be an event that you do not want to miss.”

Sponsors interested in being a part of the Surfalorus Film Festival can contact Dare County Arts Council Executive Director Chris Sawin at or at (252) 473-5558.

For more information about Surfalorus or on how to become a sponsor, please call (252) 473-5558 or visit and

Cucalorus Hires Blair Middleton as Development Director

AudienceHeaderWilmington, NCThe Cucalorus Foundation, a multi-disciplinary arts non-profit that organizes the annual Cucalorus Festival in November, has hired Blair Middleton as Development Director.

Blair Middleton (née Brown) previously served as Director of Business Operations at local youth development organization DREAMS of Wilmington, and has several years of experience working in the non-profit sector. She brings accounting skills and a strong commitment to community engagement to her new position to grow the organization financially through grants and sponsorship.

“Cucalorus is excited to welcome Blair to our team of year-round staffers. Blair has the kind of industry-specific experience blended with strong business instincts that Cucalorus needs as we blossom from a grass-roots movement into a community institution,” says Dan Brawley, Executive Director of the Cucalorus Foundation.

Middleton is the owner and founder at Acacia Tree Wellness and is a registered yoga teacher and licensed massage and bodywork therapist. A resident of Wilmington since 2009, she has worked previously for Cucalorus coordinating Special Programs, Social Events, and Engagement and Outreach programs.
“I’m so honored to be working for Cucalorus in this new capacity. Collaboration and unconventional thinking is really applauded here,” says Blair Middleton, “and I appreciate the opportunity to help nurture such a well-loved organization in Wilmington.”

Now Hiring: Programming Coordinator!

The position of Programming Coordinator offers
expansive freedoms mixed with chaotic pleasures.
Cucalorus seeks an outgoing, inventive, and detail-oriented human for the position of Programming Coordinator to support curatorial activities that shape the annual film festival, residency program, and other artistic missions launched from Jengo’s Playhouse in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Cucalorus Programming Coordinator manages communications with artists while orchestrating the annual submission and selection process for the Film Festival, Stage Experience, and Connect Conference. The Programming Coordinator works with thousands of filmmakers and more than 50 programmers to create the perfect fusion of unexpected satire, cheeky humor, insurgent rebellion, and liberating revelation.

The Programming Coordinator will work closely with the Chief Instigating Officer and other staff to plan this fall’s 23rd Annual Cucalorus Festival. The Programming Coordinator must enjoy watching movies and be open to travel, adventure, and occasional bouts of mischief. Cucalorus is a highly creative and collaborative environment with a deep respect for artists and high standards for integrity.

The ideal candidate will have some working knowledge of Filemaker Pro and have at least three years experience in the film festival industry. The Programming Coordinator is responsible for managing support staff, including volunteers and interns who support the substantial work of managing the programming database. Candidate must live in Wilmington, NC or be willing to relocate.

Compensation is based on experience and could include housing on the Jengo’s Campus. Position is one of four full-time salaried jobs with Cucalorus.

To apply for the position, please submit a cover letter, resume, and a haiku poem about your favorite movie in a single email with the Subject Heading “Best Job Ever” to Applications will be accepted through Friday, May 19, 2017 and the Programming Coordinator position will begin immediately after the candidate is selected.

Rekindling the Forgotten Flames of History – Cucalorus Screens Wilmington On Fire

Cucalorus is screening the documentary Wilmington On Fire this Saturday, March 25th at Portia Mills Hines Park as part of our Pop-Up Cinema Series. The evening will begin around 6pm with free hot dogs and popcorn, and tunes from Bigg B and the Coast 97.3 truck, followed by the screening at 8pm.

Event Photo3


In preparation for one of the most impactful movies to come out of Wilmington, we sat down with the Director – Christopher Everett – for an exclusive interview. If you’d like to meet Christopher and ask further questions, Cucalorus is hosting a discussion the day after the screening, March 26th at 4pm at Jengo’s Playhouse (815 Princess St).


Cucalorus:  What inspired you to make Wilmington On Fire?

Christopher Everett: I was inspired to make Wilmington on Fire after I heard about the history back in 2008. I saw that the Black perspective was never a part of the conversation when people would discuss the 1898 massacre, so that made me want to tell the story from a different perspective and I felt the best way to truly tell this story was through a documentary medium.


Cucalorus: What lasting impact does the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 have on Wilmington today?

Christopher Everett: The lasting impact of the Wilmington Massacre on the city of Wilmington today is all around. The lack of growth of the city since 1898, the lack of Black-owned businesses and wealth within the Black community, and the lack of Black political power within the city are all lasting effects from the 1898 massacre.


Cucalorus: While making the film, were people generally open to discussing the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 or was there still some resistance to confronting that history?

Christopher Everett: When filming, I had a few people that were hesitant, but only about being on camera and sharing stories and the history on camera. They were very open in wanting to discuss everything, but some didn’t want to be on camera. But for the most part, the descendants, historians, activists and researchers that we interviewed were willing to share everything they knew.


Cucalorus: Why do you think America’s only coup d’etat has such a low profile in our history?

Christopher Everett: I think this history has had a low profile in North Carolina because it’s one of the main reasons why we have so many racial problems within the state; plus it’s been a badge of shame for all of these years. But I’ve noticed that more places outside of North Carolina actually teach this history and know this history. It goes back to what Larry Thomas (who’s in Wilmington on Fire) always says.. “The secret is, there is no secret.”


Cucalorus: What do you hope Wilmington On Fire accomplishes?

Christopher Everett: I hope it accomplishes a lot of things. One thing that I hope it accomplishes is to recreate another 1898 commission and a serious one that will investigate more in regards to making a case for reparations. And another thing I hope it can do is to force the state of NC to incorporate learning about this history in our school system.

For more info about the screening, check out the Facebook event HERE.

Thanks to contributing writer Winston Orzechowski.

Party Like It’s 1984!

Dystopian Vistas and Fabulous Dancing in Wilmington


The NYC based immersive dance company Motion Picture Show came to Wilmington to give us REAL LIFE TEST – a theatrical experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen. 13,000 square feet of the finest downtown Wilmington real estate was completely transformed into an Orwellian game of choose-your-own-adventure. The cast includes Broadway veterans along with UNCW faculty and students. Big Brother danced his way through Wilmington March 1st-5th! 

Cucalorus sat down for a Q&A with the performance’s director – Nick Kepley – to give you an exclusive look into the show. We’re nice like that. To get fully indoctrinated, grab a friend and attend this week! Remember – we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

Cucalorus: How did you come up with the idea for Real Life Test/How long have you been working on it?Nick Kepley: We’ve been working on REAL LIFE TEST for almost a year. The initial inspiration came from the concept of gender roles in society and a questioning of why we feel the need to define our sexuality in any capacity. From there we started to incorporate themes from 1984 and decided to set the work in a futuristic society where power and control are very much in flux.

Cucalorus: What inspired you to choose to base it off 1984?

Nick Kepley: We were searching for a narrative to serve as a jumping off point for us. Since the work is told purely through movement, it helps to have a story that most people can walk in knowing or at least understanding the basic themes. At the time we initially started building the show, the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election was still very much up for grabs. Since November, I feel like the power and importance of telling this story has only grown.

Cucalorus: What are you hoping audiences take away?

Nick Kepley: My greatest hope is that people will just give themselves permission to get completely lost and carried away in the world of the show. Whether it’s the story, the dance, the set installation or the music, there’s really something for everyone to enjoy. We’ve purposely designed the show in such a way that it’s basically impossible to follow the story in a narrative fashion from start to finish. So rather than stressing out too much about “understanding it,” I hope they just let themselves enjoy the dreaminess of it all and let it transport them.

Cucalorus: What are some other shows (if any) that inspired Real Life Test?

Nick Kepley: I’m a huge fan of immersive theatre in general. The first time I saw Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, it truly changed my life. I’m also a big fan of Third Rail Projects’ shows. Any time you can shake up the norm and knock the audience out of their comfort zone, I’m all for it!

Cucalorus: Is there anything you’d like readers to know before going in?

Nick Kepley: Just keep an open mind and enjoy yourself! We’re performing artists so our goal is to entertain first and foremost. Have fun!

Thanks to contributing writer Winston Orzechowski.

Cucalorus & NC Film Office Present :: 11 “Filmed in NC” Filmmaker Grants!!

Cucalorus is excited to announce eleven filmmakers awarded “Filmed in NC” grants. This program is an initiative of the Cucalorus Film Foundation and the NC Film Office to support indie filmmakers in North Carolina. The grants are funded by the NC Film Office and awarded through the Cucalorus Film Foundation. Together both organizations support original and singular works by diverse artists working in North Carolina. The eleven projects awarded range from narrative features to short docs and were chosen from 59 submissions. The panel of judges for the 2nd annual round of grants included a combination of grant recipients from 2016, members of the Filmed in NC office, and guest panelists from the industry. Embracing the diversity of the film industry, the “Filmed in NC” Grants are supporting five female directors, three projects from African American filmmakers, and one genderqueer filmmaker. Filmmakers will present a portion of their ongoing work at the 23rd annual Cucalorus Film Festival, November 8-12, 2017.

Grant recipients are:

• Alex Nomick for Sweet Nothing, a narrative about a college student struggling with his sexuality;

• Alicia Inshiradu for What The River Knows, a short chronicling the six months of a young married couple’s tragic life;

• Anna R. Jones for Chairman Jones – An Improbable Leader, a documentary about North Carolina’s first African American school board chairman;

• Anthony Reynolds for Times Like Dying, a feature about a vengeful farming family;

• Brendan & Jeremy Smyth for Mohmmed, a poetic look into forgotten refugees;

• Christopher Baker for Sarah’s Big Day, about a girl and her imaginary friend;

• Joanne Hock for Martin Hill: Camera Man, a documentary about an obsessed hoarder of filmmaking tools;

• Katina Parker for A Love Supreme: Black, Queer and Christian in The South, documenting the journey to reconcile Black Queer Christians with their families;

• Laura Hart McKinny for Extraordinary Ventures, a story of employment of teens and adults on the autism spectrum;

• Molly Lewis for Paradise: Downhill Skateboarding, about the downhill skateboarding culture of Western North Carolina;

• Ricky Kelly for Black Beach/White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches, about the racial tensions that arise in Myrtle Beach during two national bike festivals every spring.

Dan Brawley Becomes Prez of Film Festival Alliance!!

Cucalorus is shouting three big hip-hip hoorays to the moon, because Executive Director and Wilmy native Dan Brawley has been elected the new President of the Film Festival Alliance!! He follows current president Jody Arlington from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas as the leader of the non-profit’s executive board.

DanBrawleyOriginally a program of the Independent Filmmaker Project, the Film Festival Alliance is an independent non-profit organization that develops and fosters collaboration among mission-driven film festivals around the world. Over 200 film organizations participate year-round to connect festival professionals and support each other in presentation and preservation of film and media programs. The Film Festival Alliance hosts an extensive track of programs for festival professionals during the ArtHouse Convergence, which takes place in the days leading up to the Sundance Film Festival in January.

As acting President, Brawley will drive production and management of resources for active members and be a leader in the national conversation around the vital role of film festivals, filmmakers, and cinema culture. “I’m thrilled that Dan Brawley will serve as president of the executive committee of the Film Festival Alliance,” says Deirdre Haj, Director of Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and outgoing FFA Vice President. “It’s no accident that North Carolina festivals are well represented in the FFA’s leadership, and Dan understands well that good festivals take better care of filmmakers. He’s got a level head and favors collaboration, not competition.”

Fresh from hosting parties, attending screenings and bouncing in the snow in Park City, Brawley added, “I’m honored to be able to lead this work and there’s lots to be done. The film festival industry has grown so fast and there really aren’t any formal networks to stitch us all together. The Alliance is well positioned to provide a guide for filmmakers so that they can navigate their way through the festival circuit without paying high entry fees and feeling powerless. I’m joined by an incredible group from all over the country who also believe that cinema is an essential tool for sharing and understanding, which is needed now more than ever.”

Visit to learn more about the FFA! Congrats, Dan!

‘Always in Season’ – A Powerful Preview

Always in Season

A recently completed work-in-progress of Jackie Olive’s – the documentary feature film “Always in Season” – screened before a private audience at Jengo’s playhouse as part of North Carolina’s Black Film Festival. Jackie Olive will be showing a short preview of the film and curating a discussion as part of the Cucalorus Filmed in NC Showcase

Always in Season is a withering exploration into the legacy of lynching in America. More than a history lesson, the film exposes the shadow of pain and terror lynching still casts today. To many this is not a chapter long since closed but a timeline of oppression, which manifests today in police shootings and mass incarceration. Much of film is focused on efforts to start the healing process by bringing awareness to the full scope and severity of these crimes. It is shocking just how little people are aware of this history. Far from being a few isolated incidents, lynching was a grassroots campaign of terror meant to cower black Americans. Despite these deep wounds, the film profiles attempts to seek avenues of hope and reconciliation. Always in Season is a streamlined account of the turbulent emotional mix still lingering in the wake of an all too American style of terrorism.

The history of lynching is far worse than our history books tell us. A common figure for African Americans murdered through lynching is roughly 4,000. This is an understatement. There could easily be as many as 15,000. The term “lynching” refers to all acts of extrajudicial execution committed against black Americans – not just those with a noose. Some of the most harrowing moments of the film come when photos of these events are displayed. As shocking as it might seem, the perpetrators of lynchings were often proud of their actions. Postcards were printed and mailed showcasing the mutilated and burned bodies of African Americans surrounded by a sea of smiling white faces. These postcards didn’t always come from the Deep South. Always in Season does a great job at showing how pervasive lynchings were across America. Many northern towns and cities have lynchings in their past. Most had nothing to do with allegations of capital crimes like rape or murder. They were simply done to keep African Americans in “their place”. Lynchings functioned as a systematic campaign of terror to ensure the black community remained powerless and white supremacy reigned. This legacy is still alive today.

The film makes excellent use of interviews to display the different attitudes towards the history of Lynching in America. It is hard to watch as black Americans work to move past pain in pursuit of justice while white Americans shrug the topic off as a tragic footnote. In many cases white interviewees are not even aware of lynchings that occurred in their own cities only sixty years ago. This is one of the central themes of the film – that by confronting this racialized dissonance, we all as Americans have the opportunity to work towards justice and reconciliation. In most cases white obfuscation is not done out of malice but materializes from simple discomfort. In a sense whites are taking aspirin pills of amnesia to avoid the emotional and spiritual hangover of lynching. A treatment which has been surprisingly effective. Police shootings and vigilante killings of African Americans still go unpunished today. The film even reveals a possible lynching in Bladenboro, North Carolina where Lennon Lacy was found hanging from a swing set in 2014. One cannot help but notice the irony that though black Americans could not attend lynchings as spectators, they are the ones lighting the way towards an uncharted path for restorative justice in America. Meanwhile postcard after postcard of complicit white crowds have apparently grown senile within a generation. The film makes painfully obvious how far from relevance many in the white community view lynching.

Acknowledgement of these crimes is not always pretty. One controversial attempt at bringing awareness the film portrays is lynching reenactments. In one scene, performers act out the grizzly details of a quadruple lynching in 1946, including the murder of an unborn child. Though often utilizing amateurs, the passion and emotional fury brought out during these reenactments is blistering. If just the mention of this history makes many whites uncomfortable, it is not hard to imagine the effect of live action portrayals. Many white people interviewed question the necessity of these performances, labeling them divisive. But a key aspect the film demonstrates is just how much pain is caused by allowing these wounds to fester in silence. Interviews with the reenactments’ black and white actors show their hope is to start the healing process through these performances. In order for that process to occur, there must be acknowledgement of the damage caused. No one promised that was going to be easy.

Despite the emotional trauma that resurfaces with these issues Always in Season is in many ways a catalog of methods to heal wounded communities. It points towards a future of acknowledgement, repair and reconciliation. As the film progresses, a growing cast of white people step up to address the history of lynching and the actions of their ancestors. In one of the most powerful scenes, a memorial is erected for three African American circus workers lynched in Duluth, MN in 1920. Among the attendees are relatives of the men lynched and those that lynched them. In an inspiring display, both parties share in the grieving process. They discuss openly how it feels to discover this incident is part of their history. They come together by addressing the truth rather than hiding from it. There is no attempt to make descendants share in the guilt of their ancestors. Rather, this process creates a common space of healing. The film takes viewers from black & white photographs of hate and silence to a living process of reconciliation. Always in Season examines the traumatizing effects lynching has had on our past and present but it also points to a future of hope. You can follow the progress of this film and keep posted on the broadcast date on PBS in 2017 here!

Cucalorus Venue Change

Cucalorus announces today that all screenings previously scheduled for City Stage Theater will now take place in the Thalian Ballroom. Festival organizers are excited to transform City Council Chambers into a world class festival screening venue. Unfortunately, City Stage Theater is no longer in operation. For all ticketholders, passholders, and festival attendees: all screenings scheduled for City Stage will remain the same time and date, but with a change in location. All tickets and passes already bought will be accepted at Thalian Ballroom. See you at the festival!

ROOTS Week 2016 Film Line-up!

Hey cool kids, here’s the film line-up and schedule for ROOTS Week 2016! Check out these awesome films and hit up the AlternateROOTS website for more info!


The Schedule:

Thursday / Aug 11 / 1:30pm to 3pm
Interview with Dr. Doris Derby / 2:55
Buckjumping trailer / 3:00
Cochon Rouge by the White Trash Collective, 2001 / 30:00
conNECKted / 21:00
Thursday / Aug 11 / 5pm to 6pm
The Feast / 15:09
Everything is To Be Continued / 12:00
A Conversation With John O’Neal / 16:04
Friday / Aug 12 / TBD
Open Screen
Friday / Aug 12 / 3 to 4:30pm
Bizosso TV / 10:59
Mining and Resistance in Dinétah / 24:00
Free Southern Theater: Beginnings (Work-in-Progress) / 22:00
Saturday / Aug 13 / 12:15 to 1:30pm
Alternate ROOTS documentary by George King / 29:45
Don’t Start Me to Talking or I’ll Tell Everything I Know / 43:00


The Films:


Interview with Dr. Doris Derby (2013) / 2:55  

Produced by Junebug Productions

Dr. Doris Derby is one of the three co-founders of the Free Southern Theater. In this interview she discusses how she met the other co-founders John O’Neal and Gilbert Moses in Jackson, MS in 1963.


Buckjumping trailer / 3:00

Directed by Lily Keber

Buckjumping is a cinematic journey into the dance traditions of New Orleans. It follows different dancing communities as they express themselves through movement, painting a dynamic portrait of a city’s spirituality, defiance and resourcefulness.


conNECKted / 21:00

Directed by Gwylene Gallimard

Two documentaries created with 6th and 7th grade students at James Simons Public School in Charleston. The first film is a film of questions. The young people are encouraged to ask any type of questions, including difficult ones. The “conNECKted” team then shows questions privately to bring back various filmed answers to them.


Cochon Rouge by the White Trash Collective, 2001 / 30:00

From the VHS collection of Toni Shifalo

This video was made by a group of ROOTers including SueEllen McMillan of Florida & Jerry Pope of Virginia. It is a spoof on “Moulon Rouge” the film and a silly little film. But no one has seen it in years – so who? knows!!





Everything is To Be Continued / 12:00

Directed by Lily Keber

Everything is To Be Continued uses a week in the life of a New Orleans brass band as a conceit around which to tell the story of the fragility of life in poor black New Orleans, the impact of Katrina, the violence that steals young talented Black men from their families and the razor thin margins of working musicians, even in a city whose entire reputation is based on their work.


The Feast / 15:09

Directed by Alexandra McColl

An exploration of female sexuality- women’s ability to express themselves as sexual beings, viewing our female bodies as objects to be sexually desired, and the socially constructed cage of scrutiny that surrounds gender normatives.




A Conversation with John O’Neal (2013) / 16:04

Directed by Jason Foster and Kiyoko McCrae
Filmed in November 2012, this conversation with John O’Neal, co-founder of Free Southern Theater and founding Artistic Director of Junebug Productions centers around Mr. O’Neal’s values and aesthetics that have guided his approach to art-making over the span of his 50+ year career as a civil rights organizer, playwright, director and actor. From the formation of Free Southern Theater and the story circle process to the creation of the mythical everyman character Junebug Jabbo Jones, Mr. O’Neal shares the importance and power of stories and its role in creating social change.


Bizosso TV / 10:59

Directed by Charles Dennis

BTV (aka Bizosso Television) is a collection of short humorous videos created by Charles Dennis for Cafe Bizosso, a cabaret performance installation by Atlanta artist Normando Ismay that was featured at the 1994 Alternate ROOTS Annual Meeting.



Mining and Resistance in Dinétah / 24:00

Directed by jordan flaherty

Dinétah is the name of the land of the Navajo, spanning parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The US government, working with coal companies, has forcibly relocated an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Diné people. Today, only a small group of Diné people (mostly elders) lives here, and those that remain are being pressured to leave. This film focuses on youth and elders coming together to fight for the survival of their culture, fighting against displacement caused by US government policy, as well as exploitation caused by mining and other polluting industries.


Free Southern Theater: Beginnings (work in progress) / 22:49

Produced by Kiyoko McCrae and Stephanie McKee, Directed by Jason R.A. Foster

This documentary in the making is a fascinating look at the founding of the Free Southern Theater in the early 1960s. Check out this sneak peek.

“Well, if theatre means anything, anywhere, it should certainly mean something here. Why don’t we start a Theatre?” – Dr. Doris Derby speaking to John O’Neal and Gilbert Moses in 1963.

Alternate ROOTS / creating and presenting original performing art in the SE United States / 29:35

Written and Produced by George King

Interviews with ROOTS legends like Linda Parris-Bailey, Bob Leonard, and Ruby Lerner frame this 1990’s documentary about the structure of Alternate ROOTS and what it means to be a ROOTer.


Don’t Start Me to Talking or I’ll Tell Everything I Know (1985) / 43:00

Directed by Stevenson J. Palfi

An incredible staged documentation of John O’Neal performing as Dr. Junebug Jabbo Jones, this documentary featurette features a captivating performance and some clever ’80s editing. The show was the final production of the Free Southern Theater while also marking the first appearance of Junebug Productions. The stage performance premiered in 1980 and the film was created in 1985.