‘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.



Seeking Cool, Clever, Confident Coordinators!

Cucalorus is Hiring!Hey Cucalorus crowd, we’re searching for some rad new members for the 22 team! Check out the descriptions below and send us your resume TODAY! Cucalorus has open positions in the operations, development, event planning, box office, marketing, and technical departments and is also accepting general applications for positions in these areas.

Technical Coordinator

Cucalorus seeks a Technical Coordinator for the 22nd annual festival taking place November 9-13, 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Cucalorus brings people together to celebrate, discover and create independent films. The annual festival provides a non-competitive environment to showcase and support filmmakers.

The Technical Coordinator works closely with the Operations Manager and Technical Director to coordinate all technical equipment, festival venues and the technical staff for the film festival. This includes the set-up and breakdown for approximately fifteen festival venues. The Technical Coordinator will work with the Operations Manager to oversee and manage technical staff and volunteers including the print traffic coordinator, media manager, technical assistants, projectionists and projection assistants. This position requires knowledge to troubleshoot any technical issues that may occur and assists with scheduling technical staff. An excellent understanding of projection equipment, audio, aspect ratios, file exporting, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Media Encoder, and screening formats is required. Previous experience with film presentation is required. This position can become a promotion to Technical Manager for Cucalorus 23 if the selected candidate is successful in the position as Technical Coordinator for Cucalorus 22.


Please send cover letter and resume to:

Jill Tefft, Managing Director


Social Events Coordinator

Cucalorus seeks a Social Events Coordinator for the 22nd annual festival taking place November 9-13, 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Cucalorus brings people together to celebrate, discover and create independent films. The annual festival provides a non-competitive environment to showcase and support filmmakers.

The Social Events Coordinator manages all social events: the Opening Night Reception, Midnite Brunch, Jengo’s Backyard and various other parties. The Social Events Coordinator oversees arrival, setup, décor, maintenance, breakdown, and cleaning for each event venue. Must be able to manage volunteers, work as a liaison with venue staff, and work with caterers, sponsors and outside vendors. These are large-scale events, some with more than 300 attendees. The Social Events Coordinator will work with other key staff to plan food, entertainment, bar options, and guest lists for each event and venue. The ideal candidate will be extremely detail oriented and excel at communicating. The Social Events Coordinator reports to the Operations Manager.


Please send cover letter and resume to:

Jill Tefft, Managing Director


Special Programs Coordinator

Cucalorus seeks a Special Programs Coordinator for the 22nd annual festival-taking place November 9-13, 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Cucalorus brings people together to celebrate, discover and create independent films. The annual festival provides a non-competitive environment to showcase and support filmmakers.

The Special Programs Coordinator provides support for festival events that aren’t film screenings –Dance-a-lorus, Visual/Sound/Walls, Bus to Lumberton, panels, workshops, and any other special performances! You should be organized and detail-oriented.  Leading up to the festival, the Special Programs Coordinator works as festival liaison with artists, venue staff, and festival volunteers to plan each event. During the festival, the Special Programs Coordinator will be onsite during each special program to provide support and ensure the event goes smoothly.


Please send cover letter and resume to:

Jill Tefft, Managing Director


Volunteer Coordinator

Cucalorus seeks a Volunteer Coordinator for the 22nd annual festival-taking place November 9-13, 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Cucalorus brings people together to celebrate, discover and create independent films. The annual festival provides a non-competitive environment to showcase and support filmmakers.

The volunteer coordinator is responsible for the recruitment, scheduling, and training of over two hundred volunteers that support the festival each year. The volunteer coordinator will maintain contact with previous volunteers, seek out new volunteers and organize volunteer recruitment meetings, training sessions, and informational events. This position will work closely with the Operations Manager and other festival staff to identify and fill volunteer needs. Applicants should be proficient in Excel and the Mac operating system. This position requires knowledge of or willingness to learn FileMaker Pro database software. The ideal candidate will have exemplary communication and organizational skills and an attention to detail.


Please send cover letter and resume to:

Jill Tefft, Managing Director


Be on the lookout for more open positions and volunteer opportunities coming soon!

Pop-up Cinema to screen rad skate doc I Am Thalente at Surf City Surf Shop and Portia Hines Park

Cucalorus offers two, free outdoor screenings this coming weekend. On Friday night the film will screen in the parking lot of Surf City Surf Shop at sunset.  On Saturday the film will screen after a family cookout hosted by the Blue Ribbon Commission at Portia Hines Park at 9pm. Saturday nights screening is being co-hosted by the Black Arts Alliance. For more info, call Cucalorus at 910-343-5995. To see a trailer or find out more about Thalente, visit http://www.iamthalente.com/.









Pop-Up Cinema springs into 2016 with “The Age Of Love”

Cucalorus Pop-Up Cinema makes its 2016 debut with THE AGE OF LOVE at Brightmore of Wilmington, Friday, April 29th at 8:00 p.m. This is a FREE public outdoor sunset screening for the Wilmington community!

THE AGE OF LOVE follows the comic and poignant adventures of 30 seniors who attend a first-of-its-kind Speed Dating event for 70- to 90-year-olds, and discover how the search for love changes—or doesn’t change—from first love to the far reaches of life.

Steven Loring’s documentary made its Southern US Premiere in Wilmington at Cucalorus 20, with an added “Buzz Feed” encore screening. We’re excited to team up with Brightmore of Wilmington in bringing back THE AGE OF LOVE to the community!

  • When: Friday, April 29th, 2016, 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Where: Brightmore Independent Living, 2324 South 41st Street
  • RSVP requested to (910) 338-2905 (not required for general public)





Cucalorus seeks films, speakers, virtual reality, dance, performance and more for 22nd Annual Film Festival and CONNECT Conference


“One of the 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, 2016″ -MovieMaker Magazine

“The 10 Best Film Festivals You’ve Never Heard Of” – Huffington Post

Boom boom fireworks!!!

Cucalorus is officially accepting applications for the 22nd annual Cucalorus Film Festival and CONNECT Conference, November 9-13, 2016! Artists can submit films (all genres, all lengths – you make it – we watch it), performances, dance, music videos, virtual reality, artistic interventions, installations and multi-media stories. Entrepreneurs can submit to the CONNECT Conference; applications for speakers, panels, workshops, and pitches are being accepted now. Don’t wait – our online forms take 3 minutes or less guaranteed!

The festival takes place in a walkable nine-block radius of historic downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. Thousands of filmmakers, artists, and entrepreneurs explore the intersections between creativity, capital, culture and cocktails through a unique tapestry of playful and funny programming focused on discovery. Accumulated attendance at the 2016 Festival and Conference was 17,000 plus. MovieMaker Magazine recently named Cucalorus one of the “50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee” for 2016, and in January, Huffington Post included Cucalorus on its list of the “10 Best Film Festivals You’ve Never Heard Of.”

The schedule combines festival hits with a bold international program and a massive selection of more than 190 shorts. The diverse lineup of new films is joined by cleverly crafted special programs, including Dance-a-lorus, a virtual reality lounge, Cuctails, and a Blue Velvet inspired installation called “The Bus to Lumberton.” Cucalorus is organized into a slate of thematic programs dedicated to social justice, emerging artists, works-in-progress, shorts, dance, festival hits, international cinema, music videos, and North Carolina. New programmatic focuses specifically support American female directors and producers, directors from the US South, and African American directors.

The CONNECT Conference was launched last year through a partnership between Cucalorus, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and tekMountain. CONNECT showcases visionary leaders who are using innovation and entrepreneurship to transform the economy. The conference includes keynotes (eHarmony co-founder Galen Buckwalter spoke in 2015), rocket pitches, TED-style talks, and a host of panels focusing on industries ranging from health care to fashion. According to Executive Director Dan Brawley, “Something special happens when you bring hundreds of talented filmmakers together to meet the entrepreneurs who are shaping our economy. We think CONNECT has the potential to create long-term creative partnerships and will become a place where bold new ideas find the capital to get off the ground.”

Cucalorus’ general call for entries extends through late July, with separate deadlines for Dance-a-lorus performance pieces and Works-in-Progress. The regular deadline is June 23 and the late deadline is July 14. Cucalorus is also currently accepting submissions for the fifth annual Surfalorus Film Festival and a range of other year-round programs. For more info about submissions, contact programming coordinator Natalie Lentz at programming@cucalorus.org. All film submissions must include an entry form, submission fee and a self-portrait of the artist as a flame-breathing sea creature. Filmmakers living in the City of Wilmington do not have to pay entry fees. For more information visit: www.cucalorus.org/submit_a_film.asp

Cucalorus is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina Wilmington, tekMountain, Sage Island, and Brooks Pierce.

Filmed in NC : Support for NC filmmakers

We want to thank all of our applicants for submitting to the Filmed in NC: Cucalorus Indie Filmmakers Fund! This newly launched funding opportunity is an initiative of Cucalorus Film Foundation, made possible by support from the NC Film Office. The program supports the production of indie film and video projects by artists who are permanent residents of North Carolina or who are full time students at colleges or Universities in NC, currently living here full-time. Go NC film!!

We’re ecstatic that we had 63 applicants, and uber excited about announcing the winners at our annual fundraising event, An Evening on the Red Carpet. In addition to honoring our grant recipients, this classy event will also feature red carpet glam, paparazzi, Oscar ballots, scrumptious nibbles, tasty libations – and of course, the Academy Awards. The event will take place at Wilmington’s iconic Screen Gems Studios, so you don’t want to miss this opportunity to support your local film festival and NC film! Go here for more information on how to attend!


Get your Oscar on with Cucalorus!

Attention all party people, cinephiles, and schmoozers – get your red carpet duds ready for Sunday, February 28th, 2016! Tickets are now on sale for this year’s annual Cucalorus fundraiser, An Evening on the Red Carpet! Join us for an elegant evening of entertainment and bad behavior as we celebrate the Oscars at Screen Gems Studios.

The night will feature red carpet glam, paparazzi, Oscar ballots, auction prizes, scrumptious nibbles, tasty libations – and of course, the Academy Awards! We’ll also announce our first Cucalorus Filmed in NC indie filmmaker fund recipients at the event.

To purchase a corporate table, please email us at programming@cucalorus.org!

To buy tickets now, click here!


Party at Wilmington’s iconic Screen Gems Studios. Photo by Saben Kane.

‘Causing a ruckus with the Cucalorusaurus': An Interview with Jen Ray

Former Cucalorus resident artist Jen Ray, dancer and filmmaker, reflects on her time living in Wilmington at the whimsical “Pink House” during summer 2015. A newcomer to the festival with her film Grey Matter in 2014, Ray returned to premiere her new film, Willa & the Willis, at Cucalorus 21. Check out more info on the Cucalorus residency program here.

Jen Ray Headshot

Tell us about your path to Cucalorus. What specific opportunities did you see in the artist residency program?

I made Grey Matter in January 2014 and later that year my Assistant Lauren – who is a former dance student of mine and current Dancinema team member – suggested I submit. I really owe the fact I found Cucalorus when I did to her!

At the 2014 festival I fell in love with the energy of the community and was so incredibly psyched at the importance of dance in the festival. Dance-a-lorus represented the kind of performances I wanted to create, combining live performance and projection. There were also great workshops and two Dance Shorts programs that were really strong and I was proud to be part of.

I was really drawn to this new place and the idea of having an extended stay for the purposes of creating something new was a dream come true.

Your production company, Dancinema Productions Ltd., is described as a “true fusion of dance and film”. How has this concept realized itself in the work you do?

In Film School at UBC Vancouver, my mind was blown. The more I learned about film technique, history, production, the more I understood its symbiosis with dance. Being able to focus on film in school and teaching dance the rest of the time I was immersed and really invested in both. It’s impossible for me to experience one form without the other and it’s really a passion that I fuel every day.DC.Willa

Dancinema Productions Ltd. has grown to have a few different channels now, On the production side, there are the films and this year there will be more live performances developed. I love Willa & the Willis and am excited to see what other festivals might include it in their programming. It’s my second festival film and I am going to enjoy it and take time to develop the other aspects of Dancinema Productions this year.

I started an educational division, Discover Dancinema, which is a combination of teaching film and dance through video, discussion, movement, and using cameras. I did some sessions in the summer as well as monthly workshops at essence of dance inc. in South Surrey (where I grew up). I’ll return to Vancouver to do a workshop with the CASCADIA Festival and a possible Spring Session but now I’m developing a partnership with Footlights in Maryland to offer these workshops on a consistent basis to students in the DMV area.

I’m also really excited to be hosting the CASCADIA Dance & Cinema Festival in 2016 (Regular submission deadline is January 15, final deadline is February 15!) which will feature international & local dance films, local live performances and workshops. There is nothing like this in Vancouver and even the many prestigious film festivals are dry on dance, while there is a clear interest in the dance community for dancefilms and performances that incorporate video/projections.

Your first Dancinema work, “Grey Matter”, was screened as part of the dance shorts at Cucalorus 20. You’ve since made multiple other short films that combine dance and film. How has your style as a filmmaker and choreographer evolved?

I made Grey Matter as an experiment in form and a way of just trying to make what I envisioned a dancefilm should be. Through learning about film I had a certain criteria about techniques that overlapped between the two forms and a pretty clear idea of how to go about making the video. What I didn’t know is how it was going to turn out…I had seen Brock Newman’s skateboard and snowboarding videos and loved his cinematography and style. I really trusted him and he is a huge part of why Grey Matter is as smooth, clean, and hypnotic as it is. I chose dancers I had grown up with and whose style, personality and passions for dance I respected. Hayley, Courtney, & Sam were all so great to collaborate with, being creative and taking the project really seriously. They braved the January cold in those fishnets and trusted my direction. After that project I was hooked and wanted to explore the possibilities further.

One of your recently finished shorts, Siren Song, is about mermaid mythology. What was your inspiration for the film, and what themes does it explore?

Patio Read Jen RayPart of what I want to do with Dancinema is revisit and recreate classic dance characters in their natural environments and reclaim their meaning in a contemporary context. This is what inspired my choice to follow Siren Song with Willa & the Willis.

Siren Song is inspired by Ondine and The Little Mermaid. Ondine is a classical ballet that is revisited far less than others – it wasn’t very successful when it was released and the Colin Farrell movie maybe cursed the name forever. Actually looking at the story, there are gorgeous metaphors about self-discovery, and a lot of themes that resonated with my experiences learning about identity, loyalty, and purpose.  In Han Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid, the mermaid wants to transform because she is told that humans have souls and eternal life: “Human beings, on the contrary, have a soul which lives forever, lives after the body has been turned to dust. It rises up through the clear, pure air beyond the glittering stars…”  When dance is recorded and exists as video-matter, it will outlive my physical body and any dance I may live in my time. The choice to develop a work for Dancinema Productions Ltd. around the mythology of mermaids was largely to highlight these beliefs of mine about dance, video, afterlife, and possible immortality.

With the next project I wanted to branch off of films that people found sexy and more mature themes – I want people to feel a variety of emotions and to think about dance by watching it in this new way. I wanted a more universal story and address the centrality of time in film and dance. I also wanted not to be the central female character and do something unexpected with that choice. I met Alabama Crawford-Goolsby through her mother Rachael last year at Cucalorus and, after spending one afternoon with them, knew she would be perfect. Alabama’s movement is gracefully clumsy and naturally stylish. She has a beautiful spirit and the story, though fantasy, has very authentic emotion and is documentary in its own way.  A celebration of the magic of dancefilms, Willa & the Willis is an allegory about the bittersweet ephemeral nature of human-dance / youth and the ghost-like projections of Dancinema / eternality.

Tell us about the other current projects you’re working on. What’s in store for you after Wilmington?

  • I’m back to teaching dance and offering “Discover Dancinema” workshops. I’ve done some sessions over the summer and am really excited to share with more students. I’m jealous they will get to experience some of this stuff for the first time but am happy to be the one to teach them.
  • Launching the 1st Annual CASCADIA Dance & Cinema Festival in Summer 2016. This will feature live performances from some locally well-known-and-loved groups and international dancefilm submissions.
  • I’m collaborating with The JaM Youth Project, a pre-professional tap dance company based in Washington, DC providing young dancers performance/multi-media based opportunities.

Do you have any highlights or favorite anecdotes you’d like to share about your experience in the Cucalorus residency program?

  • Great support and flexibility provided the conditions I needed to produce my best work and maximize the enjoyment of the experience.
  • The Dance Maker’s retreat
  • Causing a ruckus with the Cucalorusaurus
  • Of course, shooting the film I wanted with a dream team. From inception to completion this project has been so smooth- I’m working out my methods and that process if really fun and rewarding!

Connect with Jen Ray and Dancinema Productions Ltd. at www.dancinemaproductionsltd.com or on Tumblr, Vimeo and Facebook. Check out this preview of her newest film, Willa & the Willis, below!