Cucalorus 17 closes
Annual celebration featured prophets, music, Norwegians,
local love and Norwood Cheek
The 17th annual Cucalorus Film Festival came to a close on Sunday night, capping off a record year for the events overall attendance and marking the debut of the NC Retrospective program. The festival hosted 297 artists, including filmmakers, dancers, choreographers, poets, musicians, actors, and one mime from 7 different countries around the world and from cities scattered across the country. Accumulated attendance at the festival’s screenings, parties and educational events totaled 10,515.
The festival’s works-in-progress program branched out to include a weeklong series of engagement events supporting two documentaries: Whistling for Sheep and An American Promise. Seattle filmmakers Kyle Carver and Dana Thompson brought their personal documentary about Ovarian Cancer to the festival – editing footage throughout the week and presenting updated versions to each new audience. Festival director Dan Brawley said, “Kyle and Dana’s work this week really pushes us in a new direction. We’ve always wanted Cucalorus to be a catalyst and a venue for the creation of work – so to have these guys here editing all week and sharing that process is just very special.”
Cucalorus 17 presented seven films as part of their more mainstream Magnolia program – films that had already received widespread recognition on the festival circuit. Audience buzz centered around Vikram Ghandi’s doc Kumaré – with rumors about the future of the film spreading throughout the festival. Erica Dunton’s feature to.get.her was the clear hometown favorite, featuring a question and answer session that filled the stage at Thalian Hall with dozens of cast and crew.
Cucalorus continued its UK Spotlight program, highlighted by a sold-out screening of Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin featuring a tour-de-force performance from Tilda Swinton. British filmmaker Matt Hulse returned to the festival for an intimate presentation about a collaborative community based documentary project with Roll Out, Cowboy (CFF 2010) director Elizabeth Lawrence.
Seventeen of the roughly 78 festival events were completely sold out. The festival’s most well attended events were We Need to Talk About Kevin, Dance-a-lorus, to.get.her, Happy Happy, Kumaré, Restoration, and The Other F Word. Festival director Dan Brawley commented, “Growth isn’t really our focus. It’s not like we’re not aiming to bust box office records or anything. We really just try to bring artists together for a relaxed celebration. You can see that in our programming, like the retrospective. I think it was a highlight for many of us. Norwood’s longtime connection to the festival and his roots here in North Carolina – a lot of things really just coming together to make this year very special. And I thought Sunday night’s sold out screening of the 10×10 project brought the festival to a close on a high note, probably the best closing night we’ve ever had – lots of laughing and dancing and good times.”
The foundation will present the 18th annual Cucalorus Film Festival next year from November 8-11, 2012. Fundraising for next year’s festival is well underway. Festival staff will be announcing two new grants that have already been secured to support the festival’s Voices and Vanguard programs next week. According to Brawley, “We’re very excited to already have two major funders in hand for next year’s festival. We can’t announce the full details until those organizations make their formal announcements in the coming days, but we can safely say that next year will mark a new era for the festival in terms of our reach in the industry.”
The organization will hold its annual festival fundraiser “An Evening at the Oscars” next year on Sunday, February 26, 2012 featuring a live broadcast of the Oscar ceremony. Tickets for the event went on sale today.