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









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 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:

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!

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 or on Tumblr, Vimeo and Facebook. Check out this preview of her newest film, Willa & the Willis, below!

Cucalorus 21 – Connecting Artists and Entrepreneurs Over Bonfires and Bourbon

Cucalorus 21 took over downtown Wilmington, North Carolina earlier this month with a five-day movie marathon and spirited social schedule dedicated to capturing creativity and innovation. From November 11-15, 2015, Cucalorus attendees chose from 153 separate events, including film screenings, speakers, panels, workshops, parties and interactive installations.

The Visual/Sound/Walls opening night party. Photo by Saben Kane.

Audience members experience 37 music videos on a dozen screens at the Visual/Sound/Walls opening night party. Photo by Saben Kane.

Cucalorus 21 enjoyed a record accumulated attendance of 17,630 (up 11.9% from 2014). The diverse film lineup featured 269 selections from 27 countries, including 38 narrative features, 15 documentary features, 174 shorts, 37 music videos and 5 projects in the Works-in-Progress Lab. The five most attended events at Cucalorus were the world premiere of Christopher Everett’s documentary Wilmington On Fire; opening night performance Dance-a-lorus; Eshom and Ian Nelms’ Waffle Street (starring One Tree Hill’s James Lafferty); Onur Tukel’s eccentric comedy Applesauce; and John Goldschmidt’s warmhearted drama Dough. Wilmington on Fire and Applesauce both earned Buzz Repeat screenings on the last night of the festival. Special programs like Visual/Sound/Walls, The Bus to Lumberton, Cuctails and a slew of social events rounded out the offerings.

Cucalorus CONNECT launched with an ambitious line-up of events dedicated to entrepreneurs, start-ups, technology and capital. Daily keynotes and Port City Pitches presented insights from established leaders and enthusiastic startups, with afternoon panels covering current topics including the Internet of Things, women in technology, brewing and distilling and virtual reality. CONNECT programming allowed entrepreneurs and filmmakers to discover common ground and share ideas, a goal for Brawley, UNCW, TekMountain and other organizers who became deeply invested in CONNECT’s debut.

“Cucalorus took a bold leap this year,” said Executive Director Dan Brawley. “We re-focused our efforts on exploring the future – of entertainment and business and even the festival itself. The seeds we planted 10 and 20 years ago turned out to be humans with bright minds and bold ideas. They’ve become a family of creatives who are deeply invested in our ongoing experiment in community-building and have transformed the face of Cucalorus.”

Cucalorus was recently named one of the “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World, 2015” by MovieMaker Magazine for the third consecutive year. View the full Cucalorus 21 lineup here.

An Interview with Jackie Olive, Cucalorus resident artist

Our summer residency program is coming to a close, but resident artist Jacqueline Olive hasn’t stopped working. She’s on the final production push of her film, “Always in Season,” which screened as a work-in-progress at Cucalorus 20, and is continuing efforts on the film’s Indiegogo campaign! “Always in Season” is Olive’s latest documentary feature that explores the lingering impact left by almost a century of African American lynchings in the United States. The film investigates the effects of racial terrorism across multiple communities, introducing the viewer to the perpetrators, spectators, and victims of lynching as they try to grapple with how to acknowledge and reconcile these horrific crimes that are still happening today. As a heated national discourse intensifies, “Always in Season” continues and informs the conversation, probing the complexity and pervasiveness of race and racial terrorism in the U.S. (View the trailer here!)

We were lucky enough to be able to sit down with Jackie to discuss her goals for the project, her time in Wilmington, and what exactly a Jackie Olive-inspired 21st birthday bash would look like.

AlwaysinSeasonQ: Explain your path to Cucalorus. What specific opportunities did you see in the artist-in residence program?

A: I ended up applying to the Works-in-Progress program last year and I got accepted. It was such a great opportunity to screen my film shortly after I finished a 25-minute cut at exactly the time when I needed feedback. For those who’ve never been to Cucalorus, it is such a fun, wacky, and warm environment. People come from all over the world to attend. That festival environment plus the opportunity to participate with colleagues, some of whom also had films about the need for racial justice and reconciliation, was so valuable. The best part was that I got to screen “Always in Season” at a variety of venues in Wilmington, from a local high school to Jengo’s Playhouse. The screenings were facilitated by amazing Alternate ROOTS staff, so when someone mentioned the artist in residency at the festival, I made a mental note to apply.

I was thrilled to be here for this summer, and I’m working on finishing filming, piloting my community engagement campaign, and creating a rough cut by late August. Very specifically, I am filming about an hour away in Bladenboro, NC, with the family of Lennon Lacy, an African American teen, 17, who was found hanging from a swing set last year on August 29, 2014. So the residency meant that I was able to resume filming with Lennon’s family, and I’m ideally located to do that.

Q: What have been some personal highlights of your career?

A: There have been many things I’ve been excited about. For instance, when I completed my graduate thesis film called, Black to our Roots, which is an hour long documentary that follows the journey of a group of African-American teens from Atlanta as they travel to Ghana in search of their connection to Africa, it was such a personal thrill to see the people that I had been filming with, portraying them in ways you don’t often see in mainstream media, sprawled larger than life on a theater screen. Another highlight was when that film was broadcast on PBS WORLD shortly afterwards.

One thing that is particularly meaningful to me is having interned with Academy Award-nominated director and Firelight Media founder, Stanley Nelson. I reached out to him in 2007 immediately after getting a masters degree in documentary film because I wanted to intern with the best director in the field, and he graciously took me on. It was a tremendously valuable learning experience.

It is hard to narrow down the high points of my career because every aspect of filmmaking is such a thrill for me. I feel honored every time someone I am filming with opens up their lives and invites me in.

Q: Your film, “Always in Season,” screened at Cucalorus 20 as a work-in-progress. What changes has the film gone through since then, and how has it developed?

A:  We went from a 25-minute cut to currently a version that is 40 minutes thanks to one of the editors on the project, Rodrigo Dorfman. Rodrigo is an outstanding editor, and I’ve never worked with someone who edits well so quickly. After filming in Bladenboro, we quickly cut the footage into the work-in-progress and reworked some of the older footage.  The Bladenboro piece is new and gives the film more emotional intensity and immediacy. The tragic story line about Lennon Lacy’s hanging helps to concretely show how the racial terrorism of the past is connected to widespread racial violence in the present.

Shaune Walters, left to right, Shawn Elliott Richardson and Cassandra Ottley link arms as they listen to NAACP North Carolina chapter president William Barber speak at the end of a march to honor the memory of Lennon Lacy and to bring awareness to the case, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, in Bladenboro, N.C. Lacy was found hanging from a wooden swing set in a mobile home park near his Bladenboro home in August.

Shaune Walters, left to right, Shawn Elliott Richardson and Cassandra Ottley link arms as they listen to NAACP North Carolina chapter president William Barber speak at the end of a march to honor the memory of Lennon Lacy and to bring awareness to the case, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, in Bladenboro, N.C. Lacy was found hanging from a wooden swing set in a mobile home park near his Bladenboro home in August.

Q: On your Indiegogo page, you mentioned that the film will help “inform the national debate about racial justice.” What new information or specific angle do you expect it to bring to the conversation?

A: First, the history of lynching is not new, but I rarely come across people who fully understand the scope of the terrorism. So there are a lot of lessons from just understanding the facts of the history, like that there were more than 5,000 lynchings for over a century and an overwhelming number of the victims were African American. In fact, scholars agree that the number of victims was probably 2 to 3 times as many, largely because we only know about the cases that were documented.  Before 1880 most lynching victims were white, but from that point forward, blacks were lynched far more frequently and with unparalleled brutality. Lynchings could last for hours, with the victims tortured and mutilated before finally being killed. There was a period in which it was relatively common for spectators to come out to watch. That’s white men, women, and children who attended lynchings like they were any other event. In Waco, Texas, 15,000 people came out in 1916 to watch that lynching.

When there is organized cover up and tacit denial, then we lose the lessons as a country that can help us understand the social climate that led to this widespread form of terrorism and miss the opportunity to explore how that climate, and the institutions that thrived because of it, are impacting us all today. Once you understand the history, there is no denying that when Lennon Lacy’s body is found hanging in Bladenboro with someone else’s shoes on his feet and his family insists that he wasn’t suicidal, then there’s good reason for the local authorities who investigated his death to at least consider the possibility that Lennon, who was also dating a 32 year old white woman, may have been lynched.

What “Always In Season” can bring to the conversation is showing the importance of confronting this history so that we fully understand the impact of this level of brutality on all of us, and reminding us that we have a collective stake in finding solutions that lead to justice and reconciliation.  The main characters in the film can be seen doing just that.

Q: Would you consider “Always in Season” a call-to-action film? What ways would you propose getting involved?

A: Yes. I’d like the film to move people to begin having dialogues in their communities about the historical violence of lynching and what they can do to acknowledge the victims, repair the damage and reconcile, and then begin to address issues of racial injustice going on right now, right where they live. Our plans are to engage communities with film screenings and dialogues that open conversations and identify resources for beginning the work that needs to be done for justice and reconciliation, using examples of strategies created in the communities featured in the film as potential paths to solutions.  The idea is not to inspire talk without action, but to model the conversations that need to be had across race and intraracially, and likely multiple times, so that people in communities can collectively decide what actions are specifically meaningful for them and then move to address historic and current racial violence.

AlwaysInSeasonQ: In your film, you chose to interview family members of victims and perpetrators of racial injustice, putting a human face on the issue rather than talking in abstract schemas.  Can you explain the importance of that decision?

A: The film not only humanizes the victims, but it also intimately explores who the perpetrators and spectators were. I either do that through the stories of those still living, like Olivia Taylor, who is one of the lynching reenactors in the film and actually witnessed a lynching at the age of three, or by featuring their relatives. I initially started out with a much more essay driven narrative, but I quickly realized that I wanted viewers to connect to the personal stories of those in the film so that the audience can understand every perspective of those involved in lynching—the victims, the lynchers, the spectators, and their relatives.

The subject matter is difficult and it can get intense. I wanted to remove the psychological barriers that we often put up to distance ourselves from facing issues of race and injustice. It has been important for me to do that in a way that prompts the viewer to see themselves in the story, and I’m always consciously thinking about how to draw the audience in even more. Because lynchings happened across the country in every state but four, and at its height the violence occurred several times a week and involved tens of thousands of people, the impact on all of us, even when we’re unaware, is pervasive.  I ideally want the audience to consider how their personal stories and their family narratives intersect with this history.

Q: Getting back to your time here in Wilmington, any highlights or favorite anecdotes from your residency so far you’d like to share?

A: It’s just been great seeing so many people show up to support me and the project, starting with everyone at Cucalorus and the welcome party they organized just a few days after I arrived.  Such a warm reception allowed me to connect with many people in the community that I’d met in 2014 at the festival.  I’ve run into people who were in the audience at last year’s screenings of the work-in-progress of “Always in Season”, so it was wonderful to reconnect. Over just a couple months I’ve met so many others who’ve reached out to offer support for the project.

On another note, my son and I drove here together from Florida, so we got in a great road trip only a couple of weeks after Teo got his driver’s license.  It’s great that he got to see Wilmington before heading home for the summer, and we had fun hanging out downtown and exploring the community together.

Q:  And finally, what’s the perfect Jackie Olive inspired recipe for a 21st birthday bash?

A: Well, one of the many fun things about attending the Cucalorus festival last year was all things moonshine. I love Sangria, particularly white sangria, and I recommend just adding moonshine.  We had this great spiced batch at the welcome party for the newest artist in residence, Jen Ray. My recipe calls for mixing white wine, ginger ale, peaches, white grapes, and orange slices to taste.  Then, to make it right for a Cucalorus twenty-first birthday bash, definitely add moonshine.

We’re excited to see the final product and enduring effects of Olive and her team’s hard work next year. In the meantime, you can stay updated on their efforts by liking and following “Always in Season” on Facebook, or by visiting the film’s website.

Learn more about the project and donate here!