Cucalorus and Working Films Announce the 2023 Works-in-Progress Lab Recipients


Cucalorus and Working Films Announce the 2023 Works-in-Progress Lab Recipients


Wilmington, NC- The Cucalorus Works-in-Progress Lab, organized through a partnership with Working Films, is excited to announce this year’s cohort of documentary storytellers who will be visiting the foundation’s campus in downtown Wilmington, September 25-30, 2023. The Lab is an immersive, in-person residency supporting audience engagement strategies aimed at informing accountable storytelling practices and shaping documentary outreach strategies for independent social justice filmmakers. Five filmmaking teams will receive extensive community feedback during a series of public screenings, workshops, and one-on-one consultations with mentors Jackie Olive and Byron Hurt.


Cucalorus Film Foundation was recently approved for a $15,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the 2023 Works-in-Progress Lab. The Cucalorus Works-in-Progress Lab is among 1,129 projects across America totaling more than $31 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2023 funding. 


“​​Now in its 15th year, the Works-in-Progress lab has evolved into a weeklong experience for participating filmmakers and the Lower Cape Fear community. This unique opportunity for organizers and storytellers to connect and understand how their combined work can change perspectives and hearts creating a path for change is probably the most impactful piece of the annual program,”  said Stephanie Avery of Working Films.


We’re pleased to announce that the following films have been selected for the 2023 WiP lab:


  • World Makers, directed by Ashley and William Tyner, follows three Black women in Minneapolis that are grappling with the impact of George Floyd’s murder. The women embark on interweaving journeys to care for their communities and find inner healing.
  • 7 Acres and a Church, directed by Caroline Josey Karoki, follows the fight of a community matriarch to preserve the oldest continuous Black Baptist Church in North America, her heritage, and the community’s history in Savannah, Georgia.
  • In love, In Memory, directed by Shalon Buskirk, tells the story of a mother collaborating with her community to preserve delicate memories of her son and buried histories of the city in which he was killed. In love, In Memory is an elegiac portrait of love, loss, and legacy.
  • Mother Witdirected by TeShima Brennen, follows three Black trans women grieving the death of their matriarch as they fight to achieve their academic ambitions and fulfill promises they made to her.
  • Unfiltered, directed by Chelsi Bullard, is a coming-of-age film about a teenager challenging the ‘Angry Black Woman’ trope through poetry, igniting a quest for intergenerational healing and reclaiming her childhood.

The Works-in-Progress Lab is designed and led by Working Films, a Wilmington-based nonprofit organization that is nationally recognized for its work using documentaries as a resource to inform and involve communities in addressing social and environmental issues that impact their lives. 

Interviews with any of the filmmakers can be arranged by request. Please contact Stephanie Avery at to schedule or visit for more information.