Cucalorus Board of Directors

Peter Sweyer, Chair

Peter is a Realtor/Broker at Century 21 Sweyer & Associates and owner of Wrightsville Manor. He has been immersed in the real estate industry since early childhood and has gained great insight into all aspects of the industry through the family business. He has seen the ups and downs of this market over the past 25 years and knows that over the long range Wilmington will continue to grow because of its desirable location along the Southeast coast. He is a Centurion Award Winner and has also been recognized as a quality service Pinnacle Producer by Century 21 corporate.

Natalie Lentz Blake, President

Natalie is an interior designer at Barbour Spangle Design in her hometown of High Point, NC. She first came to Wilmington back in 1996, when she attended UNCW as an Art History major. Natalie’s studies took her back to the middle of the state, but 10 years of design and a master’s degree later she came back to Wilmington in 2012. It was then she discovered Cucalorus, and jumped head first into the staff position of Box Office and then Programming. In 2017, she decided to hop from curating films to back over to curating spaces, but can still be found behind the curtains when the festival rolls around.

Jason Sargis, Secretary 

As a UNCW Film Studies Alumni, Jason began his career as an Operations Manager and programmer for the Cucalorus Film Festival. It was through the festival circuit he was able to meet, learn from, and network with fellow film industry professionals. Now a Location Manager and Scout living in Atlanta GA, Jason has worked on both independent and ‘studio- backed” projects. Jumping from commercials to features and scripted television, he enjoys the flexibility and creativity his job affords him. Jason has been lucky enough to be employed on productions for many of the major streaming and network broadcast companies. When he’s not scouring the land for the perfect filming location, or producing his own content, he enjoys hiking, traveling and attending any music event with his wife Jessica.

Jeff Sanchez, Treasurer

Jeff Sanchez is a musician and filmmaker, originally from New Jersey.  He and his wife Monika moved to Wilmington in 2005, and Jeff has been a volunteer at Cucalorus since 2006, in many different roles.  Two films that he worked on have been featured at the festival, in 2014 and 2016.  Jeff was the director at Centro Latino and ran a Mexican radio station here for 3 years.  He currently works for Freaker USA and has his NC real estate license.  He plays with local rock and roll band THE CLAMS.

Byron Hurt

Byron Hurt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, anti-sexist activist, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, in the Documentary Film Program. He is also the lead technical assistant for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Forward Promise initiative, a storytelling project for boys and young men of color. Hurt is also an Emmy-nominated TV show host. His critically acclaimed documentary, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and broadcast nationally on PBS’ Emmy-award winning series Independent Lens.

Christopher Everett

Christopher Everett is a Durham, NC-based producer and director of the award-winning documentary film “Wilmington on Fire.” He is the founder and president of Speller Street Films and currently works with the Southern Documentary Fund as Program Manager. Christopher is currently filming his next two documentaries, “Wilmington on Fire: Chapter II” and “Grandmaster,” which looks at the legacy of martial arts pioneer Vic Moore.

Georg Koszulinski

Georg is a filmmaker whose work addresses issues of the Anthropocene, merging his interests in science, poetry, ecology, the ongoing effects of colonization around the world, and radical forms of non-fiction filmmaking. His award-winning films have been presented at hundreds of festivals, museums, and microcinemas worldwide, most recently at Experiments in Cinema, the Camden International Film Festival, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, the Museum of Vancouver, and the Society for Visual Anthropology Film & Media Festival. His recent documentaries, White Ravens: A Legacy of Resistance, and America is Waiting are distributed through Docurama and Fandor distributes his Florida Trilogyamong other films. Georg is also a professor of Film Studies at UNCW, where he encourages his students to develop their filmic voices and to make work that critically engages the themes, topics, and social justice issues that matter most to them.

Malaika Paquiot

Malaika Paquiot splits her times between her 2 loves: film and tech. To this end, she is a Digital Strategist with ARRAY, formerly known as African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), founded by the director of the Oscar-nominated film SELMA: Ava DuVernay. Malaika’s led a group of 60 volunteers in the digital promotion of all but one of ARRAY’s acquisitions. Malaika is part of the Product Management team at a Wilmington, NC-based cloud banking startup focused on its international expansion. She has been in the software industry for 15 years during which time she has won the National Women of Color Technology Award. She merged the tech and film worlds by writing on online film distribution and crowdfunding and has done so for Focal Press’ Mastering Film blog, Filmmaker Magazine’s blog and her own blog Beyond the Box Office. Up since 2009, it focuses on innovative ways for filmmakers to distribute their films, including set-top boxes, streaming services and mobile apps. She is currently a member of the Sundance Institute, board member of Working Films and a former board member of the San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild.

Robert Redhead

Wilmington native and current Atlanta GA resident Robert Redhead works for software provider, Talend,  helping companies and Federal agencies achieve data-driven decision-making nirvana. When not mired in the world of high-tech, Robert finds himself in the operational gears of Cucalorus as an architect of screenings efficiencies. He is also lucky enough to call himself a documentary programmer for both our beloved festival, and the Atlanta Film Festival.

Kate Miller 

Bio coming soon!

Jen West

Jen is known for writing and directing award-winning short narrative films and popular music videos for southern bands like St. Paul and the Broken Bones. West also produced two films that were official selections of the 2016 Emerging Filmmaker Showcase in the American Pavilion as part of the Cannes Film Festival. She directed the Cucalorus Festival’s annual performance installation, Bus to Lumberton, in November of 2019 based on the screenplay for FALLING HOME (written by West and Virginia Newcomb). She’s been the recipient of the Sidewalk Film Festival’s Audience Choice Award, the Seed&Spark Best Short Film Award at the Flyway Film Festival, a Stowe Story Labs fellow, and a proud Cucalorus Artist Resident. West was a finalist for the 2020 Lynn Shelton “Of A Certain Age” grant, and quarterfinalist for the 2022 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition and the Vail Screenplay Contest with FALLING HOME.

Carla Forte

Carla Forte was born in Caracas, Venezuela and lives and works in Miami, Florida. Forte,  first trained as a contemporary dancer, received a bachelor degree, earning the highest GPA at  the Dance University Institute in Caracas – Venezuela (2000-2004). Forte incorpore on her practice dance, film and performance, focusing on the Latin-American community. Best Film Director by the Miami New Times 2023. She is the co-founder of the Bistoury Physical Theatre and Film. Her films and performances have been screened at prominent festivals and galleries  such as: Festival Internazionale del Cinema di Salerno, Italy (2021); The University Galleries of Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton (2021); CICA Museum, South Korea (2021); SANFIC Santiago Festival Internacional de Cine Chile (2021); Rochester International Film Festival (2020); Miami International Film Festival, Florida (2020); Atlanta Film Festival, Georgia (2017); Cube Art Project, Nebraska (2017); Les Instants Video, France (2014), among others.  

Kim Pevia

Kim Pevia is an experienced life strategist, an engaging keynote speaker, and a skilled workshop facilitator. Her workshops are experiential and transformational. She specializes in identifying  the issues that keep us stuck and addresses them by developing a personalized toolbox to help us hurdle over them.  Her favorite work is done in circles.  Her favorite topics include Emotional intelligence, Gifts of Conflict, Impacts of Historical Trauma, Cultural Healing, Innocuous Nature of Fear, most of which she includes in Race, Equity and Inclusion work.  Born and educated in Baltimore, MD she currently lives in Robeson County, NC where her roots run deep as a member of the Lumbee Tribe. 

Akeema-Zane

Akeema-Zane (she/her) is an artist and researcher who works across literature, sound design and music composition, film and moving image media. Through archival research, electronic media, experimentation, improvisation, bricolage and collaboration, Akeema-Zane thinks through themes of labor, urbanization, globalization, internationalism, virtuality and self possession. Her experiences of being a student, performer, employee and/or artist-resident of Westover School (CT);  Eugene Lang, New School University; The One World Exchange;  The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Groundation Grenada; Cave Canem;  Maysles Documentary Center; Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism; UnionDocs and The School of Making Thinking has greatly informed Akeema-Zane’s practices. She is currently a film educator at Maysles Documentary Center and is Board Chair of The School of Making Thinking.