WANTED: Art Director for Festival Installation

Cucalorus is searching for an art director for the festival’s interactive installation, THE BUS TO LUMBERTON.  Inspired by themes of David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET, this immersive experience explores the creation of an artificial world where you may not feel entirely comfortable, but the possibilities are endless.

We need a volunteer who is ready to get creative and dedicate their time to turning quirky vision into reality.  You’d be working directly with New York-based artist Zach Clark, filmmaker and Cucalorus alumni (VACATION! and WHITE REINDEER), to obtain materials and help construct the space.  Your help earns you a free all-access Pegasorus pass to Cucalorus 20!  And cool points. 

Applicants must have a car and be available for part-time work in Wilmington leading up to the festival.  This position becomes full time during the festival, November 12-16.  Set design experience is not necessary, but is a plus.

Interested humans should send an email to Lindsay at specialprograms@cucalorus.org with a paragraph about their qualifications, interest in the position, and love for David Lynch.  Links to your favorite Vines are extra-appreciated.


Help Us Trick Out Cucalorus HQ!


We’re prepping to prettify Jengo’s Playhouse before Cuc’ 20.  If you’re a Wilmingtonian wanting to get rid of extra stuff in your attic, garage, or man cave…Bring it to us!

We need:

  • Flowers and plants
  • Christmas lights, rope lights, etc.
  • Old comfy couches and chairs
  • Blow up jumpy house
  • Glitter in any color or amount


Send a juicy description or some pics to operations@cucalorus.org or swing by Jengo’s Playhouse with your items (on the corner of 9th and Princess) so we can check them out.  We’ll return any lent items, but donations are even better!

Got other cool mood-making stuff?  Hit us up!  After all, how are you gonna chat up that hottie at the bonfire without the proper ambience?!

Cucalorus Seeks Filmmakers for Norwood Cheek’s “10x10”

We’re calling for filmmakers to participate in 10×10, a special program bringing filmmakers and businesses together to make a video in less than a week. A fun little music video to give your brand a boost, a mini-docu about your business, an extensive investigation of your mismatched sock collection, or who knows what else?!

All teams will complete a short video (less than 5 minutes) to air on Sunday, November 16 – the closing day of the 20th Annual Cucalorus Film Festival. All participating filmmakers will be invited to a private reception at TekMountain on Tuesday, November 11 to meet the entrepreneurs and to start developing their projects. Project files will be due at midnight on Saturday, November 15.

The program is intended to introduce young creatives to emerging businesses and to showcase the growing community of entrepreneurs working in the Cape Fear Region. 10×10 mastermind Norwood Cheek will spend the week interviewing local leaders from the business community to create a mini-doc about the tech scene in Wilmington.  All participants will receive VIP, all-access passes to the festival for participating in the project. Get techy, get weird, get involved.

Email program poobah Dan at dan@cucalorus.org to sign up!

Adopt-a-Filmmaker this Cucalorus!

Attention all generous hosts, empty-nesters, best friend seekers, and guest room groomers…

Cucalorus is looking for friends to Adopt-a-Filmmaker during this year’s festival!  If you’re interested in housing an artist visiting Wilmington around November 12-16, get more details about the program and apply here.

Your generosity is making our hearts melt into ooey gooey goodness…We’ll shower you in thank-you’s and two free all-access Pegasorus passes!  You’ve just made a filmmaker very happy.

Questions?  Contact travel chick Zoë VanDerPloeg at travel@cucalorus.org.

Bonfire chats and moonshine cocktails...Two excellent bonding strategies for you and your adopted filmmaker.

Bonfire chats and moonshine cocktails…Two excellent bonding strategies for you and your adopted filmmaker.

Introducing “Convulsions,” or Midnight Madness reborn with extra madsauce

Diehard Cucalorians know that the festival has never been afraid to push boundaries. For anyone who visited the festival’s “Fillmore Shorts” block in 2004 (we named them after U.S. Presidents that year), you were given the following warning:

There is extreme sexual content in these films. If you find yourself narrow-minded, uncomfortable with bouts of sexual deviation, unable to appreciate nondiscretionary nudity, or simply nervous around tasty little naughty bits… please do not attend this screening. 

The screening contained a handful of tasteless goodies — from T. Aruthur Cottam’s deadpan mocker “Pornographic Apathetic” and Thomas Draschan’s pseudo-psychedelic montage To the Happy Few, to Usama Alshaibi’s orifice disaster “Convulsion Explulsion” and John Davis’ slice of lawn-mowing, tranny-loving heaven “Buff’n Muffin.”

Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin, screened during Cucalorus 19 as part of the Midnight Madness program

Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin screened during Cucalorus 19 as part of the Midnight Madness program

Leading up to this fall’s 20th anniversary, Cucalorus is rebranding the Midnight Madness program as Convulsions.” The Midnight Madness program was launched at the 2007 festival with films like Anders Morgenthaler’s devious debut “Princess,” an animated whopper about religion, pornography, revenge and one small girl with a crowbar. Last year boasted the Southern U.S. premiere of Jeremy Saulnier’sBlue Ruin,” which won the Fipresci Prize at Cannes.

Aaron Hillis was praised by Brooklyn Magazine as one of "The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture."

Aaron Hillis was praised by Brooklyn Magazine as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture.” He also <3′s Daiquiris.

The rebranding of this bad habit is illegitimately fathered by Cucalorus board member and NYC film journalist Aaron Hillis, who bothered* me enough in 2007 that I finally watched his dead-mall-turned-flea-market verite doc Fish Kill Flea, mainly so he would leave me alone**. Good thing I did. The film was an indie gem, a crafty cross between Errol Morris at his best and a funny-sad concert video for hoarders and junk-lovers. When I look at the festival’s programming successes over the years — Hillis’ co-directed doc is a solid top-ten 10.  (Other horn-tootin’ successes: the U.S. premiere of the Greek masterpiece “Dogtooth,” a habit of showing films just because they’re nasty and provoke the unwashed masses, and offering primo slots for emerging Southern filmmakers.)

I can only guess that Hillis caught wind of Cucalorus’ gonzo, late-night reputation. Aaron Hillis IS a late-night party. This is both a blessing and a dire warning. He’s got an after-party erection 24-and-a-half hours a day. So when he first came to (and on) Cucalorus in 2007, he and I started a torrid love affair that has nearly ruined us and the topographical surroundings. With his mischievous assistance and inexplicably shrewd curation, we’ve combed high schools and panty-raided nursing homes all over the country to program this year’s Convulsions program. Strap one on friends, this ride’s gonna get messy.

CONVULSIONS: Cinematic visions for the night crowd. A mash-up of sex, horror and the bizarre. For Adult Cucalorians only. Hosted by Aaron Hillis.

* Side note to all filmmakers: We want to hear from you. Don’t be afraid to email festival programmers and let them know just how badly you want it. Otherwise, WE DON’T KNOW. If you’re refreshing your inbox every minute and watching our website to see if your film appears on the list, email us right now and let us know. Sometimes we can give an honest assessment of your chances in making the cut, but at the very least, we can tell you when we’ll have final selections wrapped up. That way, you can relax and only check your email every 10 minutes between buying sweet-ass wafflemakers on that there eBay.

** Note from Aaron Hillis: that’s a bald-faced lie about bothering Dan. He’s a filthy liar and horse thief, and he programmed our movie because he digs it, not realizing he’d then be stuck with me forever.

 –this blog may have been written by dan brawley with help from aaron hillis and team cucalorus. who? knows!

Find adventure with family films at Cucalorus

The Cucalorus Film Festival will debut a family films program during the 20th annual event with the help of a $45,000 donation from its top sponsor, PNC Bank. The outreach program, which is designed to engage the local community during the five-day festival, Nov. 12-16 in historic downtown Wilmington, N.C., will be launched in two parts.

“PNC’s support of Cucalorus aims to provide more youth and community members with access to the art of film,” said Chris George, PNC region manager. “We also celebrate the 20th anniversary of this festival, which has brought tremendous economic impact and arts and cultural value to our community.”

“Kidsalorus,” a program of family films suitable for kids ages 7 and up, will bring fresh, innovative festival films into an accessible space for those of all generations to enjoy. The lineup will showcase a variety of family-friendly fare from programs such as “Surfalorus,” and “Tar Heel Shorties.” PNC’s sponsorship will also support “Popup Cinema,” a free, outdoor screening series to take place throughout the fall.

"Zip & Zap and the Marble Game," will play during the festival's "Kidsalorus" program.

“Zip & Zap and the Marble Game,” will play during the festival’s “Kidsalorus” program.

“We are very excited to have PNC as the presenting sponsor of our 20th annual festival,” states Dan Brawley, Executive Director of Cucalorus Film Festival. “Through PNC’s generous sponsorship, we are able to reach even larger audiences through our Kidsalorus family films program and the Popup Cinema outdoor screenings.”

Two films from the Kidsalorus program have already made it into this year’s early selections: “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang” and Felix! “Zip & Zap” brings to life two of Spain’s most beloved comic-book characters determined to enjoy their summer within the confines of a strict boarding school where fun is absolutely forbidden. When they make new friends and form the Marble Gang, their ongoing mischief and resistance to authority leads them to a mysterious secret, begging to be solved.

Described as “Billy Elliot with Cape Jazz,” by Indiewire, “Felix” follows 14-year-old Felix Xaba’s adventures at an elite South African private school. Much to the dismay of his mother, Felix takes up the saxophone to follow in the footsteps of his late father, a jazz musician. Desperate to play in the school’s jazz concert, he seeks out the aid of his father’s former bandmate and quickly excels on the sax — until his mother finds out and Felix is forced to win her over or live a life without music.

————————————————————————————————-Founded in 1994 as a showcase for independent films, Cucalorus has since grown into a multi-disciplinary festival, attracting hundreds of artists from around the world and thousands of visitors and community members to downtown Wilmington for the five-day cinematic celebration.

Find festival updates and purchase passes at cucalorus.org.



The wait is over – Cucalorus 20′s early selections are here

The Cucalorus Film Festival, presented by PNC, unveiled a strong lineup of early selections for this year’s 20th anniversary festival, taking place November 12-16 in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. The 89 early picks range from love-lost unicorns and teenage bank robbers, to family flicks and social justice documentaries. In all, more than 200 films will be screened during Cucalorus, making it one of the largest film showcases in the United States.

Dino De Laurentiis stands on the set of “Firestarter” in 1984 at the newly built studios on 23rd Street in Wilmington. STARNEWS / CHARLIE ARCHAMBAULT

In keeping with the festival’s multidisciplinary tradition, Cucalorus will open with the live performance Dance-a-lorus, a blend of film and dance that features troupes and choreographers from across the U.S. This year’s festival will also honor Dino DeLaurentiis and his lasting legacy on film culture in North Carolina. There will be special screenings of “Flash Gordon,” “King Kong Lives,” “Cat’s Eye” and “Maximum Overdrive.”

“As we prepare to celebrate the festival’s 20th anniversary, we’re excited about how Cucalorus has grown,” the festival’s Executive Director, Dan Brawley, said. “It continues to be one of the top regional festivals in the country as we showcase a special mix of important premiers with a continued commitment to supporting regional artists. Downtown Wilmington is the perfect setting for the diverse range of programming at Cucalorus and our audiences are some of the best in the world.”

Some of the remarkable selections from the early lineup include David Robert Mitchell’s Cannes horror breakout “It Follows,” Ukrainian drama “The Tribe” (winner of three Cannes Critic’s Week awards), Joanna Coates’ indie drama “Hide and Seek,” Josephine Decker’s “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely,” Leah Meyerhoff’s “I Believe in Unicorns,” and Nathan Silver’s “Uncertain Terms.” Selected documentaries by North Carolina filmmakers include “The Hip Hop Fellow,” “Occupy the Imagination,” “Private Violence,” “Cotton Road” and “Daylight Come: Life After Rape in the Congo.

Jake Weary and Maika Monroe in "It Follows." Courtesy of Mongrel Media.

Jake Weary and Maika Monroe in “It Follows.” Courtesy of Mongrel Media.


Short films are a primary focus at Cucalorus, with more than 140 projected to make the final line-up. Shorts blocks are crafted to focus on a range of different topics, including dance, comedy, horror, animation, documentary and global cinema. Twenty North Carolina natives made the early selections list, along with the world premiere of “Happy Birthday to Me” by Peter Mackie Burns, the family friendly fix “So You’ve Grown Attached” by Kate Tsang, and the bizarre festival favorite “Master Muscles” by Efren Hernandez.

Jehina Malik in "Master Muscles."

Jehina Malik in “Master Muscles.”

Further additions to the line-up, including the Works-in-Progress program, will be announced later in September. The final film list and schedule will be released in October. Discounted passes are available at cucalorus.org. Members of the press should visit cucalorus.org/press_room to apply for credentials.

Early Selections coming out soon…


Stay tuned friends and get your ear balls and eyeholes rebooted. We’ll be announcing early selections for this year’s Cucalorus Film Festival in just a few days!

Early selections have been selected by vincent diesel and vlad putin – international selection selectors. Vin & Vlad were assisted by fifty programmers from all over the world have been sifting through more than 1600 entries from 67 countries, swimming through an incredible array of creative, inspiring, demented, delightful and thought-provoking films. Using a complex matrix of values and considerations, programmers and key staff build lists and lists and more lists, refining selections down to achieve the perfectly balanced mix of funny, fierce and forward. The festival values diversity of geography, race, gender, age, and a host of ephemeral notions in making final decisions – to deliver a challenging, singular, innovative and unexpected schedule of screenings and events.

Early selections include films from the newly launched Kids-a-lorus and revamped Convulsions programs to our VanguardVoices and Shorts programs, representing the finest in regional and international cinema for ages 7 and way way up. Further selections will be announced in late September and early October. The full festival schedule will be released at the Kickstarter/Birthday party on October 17. Tickets will also go on sale on this date!!

Savoring White Pants,
Team Cucalorus

p.s. happy labor day <3′s

Resident Artist Dispatch: Mariah Dunn

Filmmaker Mariah Dunn enjoyed a warm stay in Wilmington, NC as part of the Cucalorus Summer Residency program. Before becoming interested in film, Mariah worked in Manhattan at Fuse TV and The Martha Stewart Show. She eventually found herself in Portland, OR where she fell in love with documentary filmmaking and teaching. Mariah recently earned a MFA from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her films have screened at a variety of festivals throughout the country including, Cucalorus Film Festival, Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival, BolderLife Film Festival, The Loft Film Festival, and more.

Filmmaker Mariah Dunn

Filmmaker Mariah Dunn

Traveling in from Greensboro, Mariah visited many of the Port City’s hot spots (Airlie Gardens, Greenfield Lake, the Historic District, etc.) to enhance her new project. Here’s a preview of Mariah’s work during her stay…


In-Camera Photograms

In-camera Photograms
Objects, such as spanish moss, sand, or plants, found in each location were collected and inserted into the camera. The objects sit on the film emulsion and create a photogram of sorts while simultaneously capturing the scene being photographed. The result that is exposed on the 35mm film is both a macro and micro image that defines the space. These images will be strung together in a crude stop-motion animation to give the viewer a sense of exploring the location.

Element - "Sand"

Element – “Sand”

Element - "Spanish Moss"

Element – “Spanish Moss”

Element - "River Plant"

Element – “River Plant”


About the Residency Program

The Residency provides housing for artists at the festival’s growing creative compound in downtown Wilmington. Artists live at one of the festival’s three residency buildings – the Pink House, Yolohaus, and the Cottage – and are nurtured by the creative team that plots and schemes the annual film festival in downtown Wilmington – one of the best small cities in America for filmmakers. All resident artists are given free housing and administrative support from staff along with access to the microcinema for events.

Special consideration is given to filmmakers whose projects are capitalizing on the unique assets found in Wilmington – ranging from the river to the ocean and including the rich array of humanoids who live here. The Residency is intended to be a catalyst for new work and for discovering new ways of creating. Cucalorus gives people the freedom to take risks!

To learn more about the residency, or to apply for the next session, email programming@cucalorus.org. Or feel free to give us a shout at 910-343-5995.

Cucalorus’ Red Carpet drinks set to debut on Sunday

We’re pleased to introduce some of the fabulous and fizzy craft cocktails that will make their debut Sunday at Cucalorus Film Foundation’s annual fundraiser, “An Evening on the Red Carpet!”

And the cocktails are …

Wolf of Wall Street” – Whether you think Martin Scorsese’s latest flick is a reckless celebration of excess or a scathing critique of Wall Street, this fruity concoction will make you wish you were a financial-sector king. Midnight Moon Original and Galliano merge with mango juice and a blood-orange slice to create this lustful-lip tango.

American Hustle” – This cocktail continues the full-throttle ride that is David O. Russell’s swirling amphetamine high of a movie about chicanery in the late 1970s. Y’all will want to go back for seconds. A sensational mix of Midnight Moon Apple Pie, Italian red vermouth, Marasca cherry (thanks Manna!), an orange wedge, a sugar cube and Murray’s aromatic bitters.

Gravity” – This visually inspiring sci-fi spectacle and its stellar leading lady, Sandy Bullock, inspired one of our favorite combinations. The result is a little sweet and a little sassy. Midnight Moon Original, a pinch of mint, Murray’s aromatic bitters, fresh lime, simple syrup, topped with ginger beer.

Captain Phillips” – Based on a true story of a hijacking by Somali pirates, this jittery thriller may leave you shaken, but our cocktail is here to soothe those frayed nerves. Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine and delicious maple syrup (waffles anyone?!) morph with fresh lemon juice and Murray’s aromatic bitters in a distinctive concoction that’s as comforting as Tom Hanks.

“Nebraska” – Never been to Nebraska? Neither have we, but the sense of place in Alexander Payne’s latest work is unshakable. The story’s melancholy tone and Bruce Dern’s cantankerous portrayal of Woody Grants inspired this bitter, yet sweet, mixture. Midnight Moon Apple Pie, cognac, simple syrup, Murray’s Aromatic Bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters.

Philomena” – Judi Dench, a treasure who shines in this wrenching, but funny drama, inspired one of our most complicated concoctions. To all our classy, bad-ass lady friends: this one’s for you. Midnight Moon Original, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, Italian white vermouth, Murray’s Pom Grenadine, topped with dry sparkling wine.

Our talented mixologists have worked tirelessly to bring you these delightful libations AND three MORE crafty cocktails in honor of the Academy Awards Best Picture nominees “Her,” “12 Years a Slave” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” but we’ve gotta keep those under wraps until Sunday, y’all.

An Evening on the Red Carpet” jumps off at 7:30 p.m. March 2 at Wilmington’s EUE/Screen Gems Studios. If you haven’t already done so, reserve your seat for $100 or get the special lovers discount for couples for $180! Proceeds from the fundraiser support the 20th annual Cucalorus Film Festival, hosted in Wilmington, N.C., Nov. 12-16, 2014.

Until next time – cheers and see you on the red carpet!