Submit a Film

  • Early Deadline: May 8
  • Regular Deadline: June 5
  • Extended Deadline: July 17
  • Cucalorus Festival: Nov 13-17, 2019

One of the Coolest Film Festivals in the World — MovieMaker Magazine 2013, 2014, 2015
50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee — MovieMaker Magazine 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Cucalorus Film Festival showcases bold and innovative new works in cinema, a beguiling mix of indie hits, international treasures and regional classics. Almost anything goes! There are no time limits or specific genres for film submissions – if you make it, we take it – from features to shorts, music videos, web series, tv commercials, branded content, and beyond. Films must have been completed within the past two years, and films with world premieres before November 2018 are not eligible. All films must be Wilmington, NC premieres to qualify. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact our programming director.

Submission Requirements

1.  Completed entry form for each submission via FilmFreeway.

2.  The applicable entry fee paid via FilmFreeway.

3. Send us the title and cover design for your upcoming autobiography. Yes, we’re serious. Have fun with it! You can mail this to our office at Jengo’s Playhouse or email the design to Rachel at **disclaimer** – we may post this on social media!!

Please send all packages, checks, toys, drawings, baby goats, and photos to:
Cucalorus Submissions
Jengo’s Playhouse
815 Princess Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

Exceptions // Payments // Refunds

  • There are no exceptions to these deadlines or fees, except when we make exceptions!
  • Entry fees are non-refundable.
  • There are no entry fees for residents of New Hanover County. Email for a waiver code.
  • Cucalorus endorses irrational behavior, generally.

Submit a WiP Application or Nomination

The Works-in-Progress lab supports social justice documentaries by African American filmmakers. Filmmakers explore audience engagement strategies through workshops, consultations, and screenings. The Works-in-Progress lab was launched in 2008 through a partnership between Working Films and Cucalorus. Apply through May 15th!

Cucalorus Film Festival Programs

Submissions made through Film Freeway are considered for a wide range of festival programs focusing on emerging and innovative filmmakers, North Carolina artists, social justice, student films, films by youth, shorts, and international cinema. The festival strives to showcase diverse, international artists of all ages, genders, races, economics, hairstyles, religions, and backgrounds.


Magnolia: The Magnolia program showcases crowd-pleasing fare from romantic comedies to timely documentaries and includes award winners from the festival circuit.

Vanguard: The Vanguard program supports breathtaking works from pioneering filmmakers with a focus on female directors and producers.

Voices: The Voices program showcases films about social justice by artists working in the US South. Filmmakers work with ROOTS facilitators to organize community engagement events (25 free screenings were held in 2017) reaching distinct audiences like students from local ESL programs and young African-American men from the LITE Manhood program.

Convulsions: The Convulsions program presents a curated selection of horror and genre films – cinematic visions for the late-night crowd.

Works-in-Progress: The Works-in-Progress Lab (WiP) focuses on strengthening the community impact of documentaries about social justice and supporting the development of African American filmmakers. Cucalorus accepts submissions from African-American filmmakers working on social justice documentaries at various stages in the production process. WiP includes community engagement events, public and private screenings, impact strategy sessions, and one-on-one consultations.

Shorties: Cucalorus presents more than 120 shorts each year organized into 13 thematic blocks with funky names like Kumquat, Rambutan, Sapodilla, and Cherimoya (rare and fun fruit and food names were used in 2018!). Thematic blocks follow threads like dance, comedy, youth and animation, but also have more open-ended cues like tough, dark, and say?what!. Cucalorus provides equal financial support to feature and shorts filmmakers.