22 Cucalorus Films Currently Streaming Online


Cucalorus rounded up 22 selections from past festivals that are currently available to watch online. Read on for archival reviews and contemporary insight from Programming Coordinator Meghan Cook.

Note: streaming options were updated as of February 9th, 2023 and are subject to change.

The Pez Outlaw (2022) 

Featured in: Cucalorus 28

Directed by: Amy Bandlien Storkel, Bryan Storkel

Summary: Steve Glew spent the 1990s smuggling rare pez dispensers into the USA from Eastern Europe, making millions of dollars. It was all magical until his arch-nemesis, The Pezident decided to destroy him.

Why we love it: This fun fish-out-water documentary flies along at a fast pace and might even leave you teary eyed in its well-earned finale. 

Available on: Netflix, The Roku Channel 

Short Term 12 (2012)

Featured in: Cucalorus 19

Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton 

Summary: Grace (Brie Larson) and her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) work alongside each other as supervisors at a foster care facility. When a new girl (Kaitlyn Dever) arrives with a story that mirrors her own, Grace is forced to confront unresolved trauma from her past as old wounds reopen. 

Why we love it: This delicately woven character drama is artfully directed and features a lightning-in-a-bottle cast with LaKeith Stanfield, Stephanie Beatriz, and Rami Malek in early acting roles.

Available on: Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, Tubi

My Life as a Zucchini (2016) 

Featured in: Cucalorus 23

Directed by: Claude Barras

Summary: Iacre (Erick Abbate) is a 9-year-old living with his alcoholic mother, who calls him Zucchini. After an accident, he’s sent to a group home. He slowly becomes comfortable there and through friendships with young Camille (Elliot Page) and well-meaning policeman Raymond (Nick Offerman), Zucchini finds the strength to overcome his own personal tragedy and embrace life. 

Why we love it: This stop-motion European film has a big heart, a heavy dose of dark humor, and a zany animation style that sets it apart from everything else in its medium. 

Available on: Vudu, Amazon Prime (for rental)

Stay Prayed Up (2021)

Featured in: Cucalorus 27

Directed by: D.L. Anderson, Matt Durning 

Summary: The only thing mightier than Lena Mae Perry’s electrifying voice is her faith. She’s spent the last 50 years sharing and sharpening both as the steadfast bandleader of the Branchettes, a legendary North Carolina gospel group that has packed churches throughout the South and lifted weary hearts as far away as Ireland. 

Why we love it: Nothing evokes a sense of community like a crowd of churchgoers swaying on their feet, and it’s hard to tear your eyes away from Perry when she’s leading a choir in song. 

Available on: Amazon Prime (for rental), Apple TV

Princess Cyd (2017) 

Featured in: Cucalorus 23 

Directed by: Stephen Cone 

Summary: Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin (Jessie Pinnick) visits her novelist aunt (Rebecca Spence) in Chicago over the summer. While there, she falls for a girl in the neighborhood (Malic White), even as she and her aunt gently challenge each other in the realms of sex and spirit. 

Why we love it: The subtle acting performances and frank dialogue shine through in this sweet coming-of-age drama. 

Available on: Hulu, Tubi, The Roku Channel

The Love Witch (2016)

Featured in: Cucalorus 22

Directed by: Anna Biller

Summary: Ethereally beautiful witch Elaine (Samantha Robinson) starts a new life in California after the tragic, and all-too-suspicious, death of her husband. Elaine concocts love potions and pursues men about town, but consequences nip at her heels at every turn. 

Why we love it: This tragicomedy pays faithful homage to 1960s Technicolor horror and benefits from director-composer Biller’s razor-sharp wit. 

Available on: Peacock, Tubi, Pluto TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime

You See Me Laughin’ (2002)

Featured in: Cucalorus 11

Directed by: Mandy Stein

Summary: Stein dives deep into the lives of the Mississippi bluesmen who keep their music alive through back porches and bars as a younger generation takes the reins of the music industry. 

Why we love it: “You See Me Laughin’ is a churning, affectionate group portrait, a cinematic pendant to a New Yorker piece Jay McInerney wrote about Fat Possum Records.” – New York Times reporter AO Scott, 2005

Available on: Kanopy (free sign-up with a library card)

Hannah Takes The Stairs (2007)

Featured in: Cucalorus 13 

Directed by: Joe Swanberg

Summary: In the sweltering days of a post-grad summer, Hannah (Greta Gerwig) swings from one romantic attachment to another as her personal feelings spill over into her work life. 

Why we love it: Swanberg’s humorous third feature is considered one of the foundational films of the “mumblecore” movement, which is trademarked by its naturalistic dialogue, improvised acting, and intimate cinematography. 

Available on: Amazon Prime (for rental), Kanopy

This Changes Everything (2018)

Featured in: Cucalorus 24

Directed by: Tom Donahue

Summary: Told first-hand by some of the industry’s leading voices, including Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Yara Shaidi, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Tiffany Haddish, This Changes Everything uncovers what is behind one of the most confounding dilemmas in the entertainment industry – the under-representation and misrepresentation of women behind, and in front of, the camera. 

Why we love it: This Changes Everything drags a seat to the head of the table and explores the long history of gender disparity in Hollywood with a fearless, unrelenting edge. 

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime (for rental), Apple TV (for rental)

The Slaughter Rule (2002)

Featured in: Cucalorus 9

Directed by: Andrew & Alex Smith

Summary: As a small town in Montana enters another winter, JV player Roy Chutney (Ryan Gosling) and his friend Tracy Two Dogs (Eddie Spears) are approached by late-night newspaper salesman Gideon Ferguson (David Morse) to join his six-man football squad. Roy channels his grief and anger from a recent loss into his weekend games with Gid, as they’re both forced to grow up. 

Why we love it: “This exquisite anamorphic film is a deep and complex story about Roy’s tough road to becoming man.” – Dan Brawley, 2003

Available on: Amazon Prime (for rental), Apple TV (for rental)

The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

Featured in: Cucalorus 24

Directed by: John Chester

Summary: The successes and failures of a couple determined to live in harmony with nature on a farm outside of Los Angeles are lovingly chronicled by filmmaking farmer John Chester, in this inspiring documentary. 

Why we love it: This doc is equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking in its approach to farm and family, with loving attention to the tiny details that make up a life. 

Available on: Amazon Prime (for rental), Apple TV (for rental)

Mr. Roosevelt (2017)

Featured in: Cucalorus 23

Directed by: Noël Wells 

Summary: Struggling L.A. comedian Emily Martin (Wells) returns to Austin after a death in her family. She finds herself in the awkward position of staying with her ex (Nick Thune) and his new girlfriend (Britt Lower) until the funeral – while she tries to come to terms with her past. 

Why we love it: A likable comedy with scrappy edges, Mr. Roosevelt is endearing to the end, even if its prickly protagonist has a lot of growing to do. 

Available on: Netflix

Synchronic (2019)

Featured in: Cucalorus 25

Directed by: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead 

Summary: Two New Orleans paramedics’ (Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan) lives are ripped apart after encountering a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with otherworldly effects. 

Why we love it: Directors Benson and Moorhead ground their trippy sci-fi thriller by honing in on the humanity at the center of their mind bending world. 

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime (for rental)

Dirt Nap (“Two Tickets to Paradise”) (2006)

Featured in: Cucalorus 12

Directed by: DB Sweeny

Summary: Three best friends (John C. McGinley, D.B. Sweeny, and Ned Bellamy) breakaway from the stress of their daily lives by embarking on a road trip to a Florida Football Championship with only two tickets between them.

Why we love it: “Dirt Nap takes us on a journey of lost dreams and underappreciated treasures and reminds us that in this crazy, uncertain world, the one thing we can count on is our friends.” – Brawley, 2006

Available on: Tubi, Plex, The Roku Channel

The Invitation (2015)

Featured in: Cucalorus 21

Directed by: Karyn Kusama 

Summary: Will (Logan Marshall-Green) receives a dinner party invitation hosted by his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman) and soon realizes that the hosts have a twisted agenda in store. 

Why we love it: Kusama (who has gone on to work on Yellowjackets) cuts her teeth with a bone-chilling horror thriller that lingers on the mind long after the credits roll. 

Available on: The Roku Channel, Tubi, Peacock

Roger Dodger (2002)

Featured in: Cucalorus 9

Directed by: Dylan Kidd

Summary: Womanizer Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) has just been dumped by his lover (Isabella Rosellini), who also happens to be his boss. Down-on-his-luck, he takes an opportunity to impart his “wisdom” on his 16-year-old nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) as they hit the streets of Manhattan with women on their mind. 

Why we love it: “Roger Dodger is essentially a window into another world, bringing us out of our seats and into the hazy Manhattan bars where Roger does his best work. But don’t settle in for a happy, feel-good film. Once we’ve escaped our own problems, we come face to face with the deteriorating charisma of our antihero and his problems become our own.” – Brawley, 2003 

Available on: Tubi, Vudu, The Roku Channel, Plex, Amazon Prime

Chasing the Lotus (2006)

Featured in: Cucalorus 12

Directed by: Gregory Schell

Summary: Narrated by Jeff Bridges, this surf documentary covers forty years of footage from cinematographers Greg Weaver and Spyder Wills and includes underground super 8mm clips of surf legends like Gerry Lopez, Stacy Peralta, Sunny Garcia, and more. 

Why we love it: Schell premiered his first documentary The Far Shore at Cucalorus 10 in 2004 and has since carved out his place in the niche, artistic genre of surf documentary. 

Available on: Amazon Prime (with a Surf Network free trial)

Drought (2020) 

Featured in: Cucalorus 26

Directed by: Hannah Black, Megan Petersen 

Summary: It’s 1993, and the South is experiencing the worst drought in history. However, Carl (Owen Scheid), who is on the autism spectrum, is fascinated by weather and he’s predicting that a storm will demolish his small town in the coming days. Carl’s sister Sam (Black) decides to chase the storm by stealing their mother’s ice cream truck, as Lewis (Drew Scheid) and Lillian (Petersen) join them in their quest. 

Why we love it: Local Wilmington filmmakers Petersen and Black worked with executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass to craft a throwback family film that marches to the beat of its own drum. 

Available on: Amazon Prime (for rental)

Elephant (2003)

Featured in: Cucalorus 10

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Summary: A fictional recreation of the day of the Columbine shooting seen through the eyes of Alex (Alex Frost) and Eric (Eric Deulen), as the lives of their classmates are interrupted by unforgettable violence. 

Why we love it: “Elephant is an expertly crafted piece of cinema. Each shot considered, reconsidered and executed with a surgeon’s precision, mimicking the film’s lack of emotional force.” – Brawley, 2004. 

Available on: Amazon Prime (for rental), Apple TV (for rental)

Blackbird (2007)

Featured in: Cucalorus 13

Directed by: Adam Rapp

Summary: Young sex worker Froggy (Gillian Jacobs in her first feature role) forms a connection with ex-Marine Baylis (Paul Sparks) as they both grapple with heroin addiction against the backdrop of New York City. 

Why we love it: “With a smoldering on-screen chemistry, the lead characters deliver a touching and heartfelt performance full of pathos, pain and feeling.” – Brawley, 2007

Available on: Kanopy, Youtube (for rental)

Tragedy Girls (2017)

Featured in: Cucalorus 23

Directed by: Tyler MacIntyre

Summary: In this twist on the slasher genre, two small town BFFs (Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp) are willing to slaughter a few boyfriends to promote their social media brand and online show about real-life tragedies.

Why we love it: Tragedy Girls satirizes social media era obsession with a hearty swing of its machete while paying homage to 90s horror.

Rocket Science (2007)

Featured in: Cucalorus 13

Directed by: Jeffrey Blitz 

Summary: 15-year-old Hal Hefner (Reece Daniel Thompson) tackles his stutter head-on by joining the school’s debate team at the behest of his fast-talking classmate Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick). 

Why we love it: “The powerful voice-over by Dan Cashman lends the film a mature air as he collects the frantic teenage episodes and draws them out into poetic life lessons.” – Brawley, 2007

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel