Cucalorus shares early films for 26th annual festival


Events for the 26th annual festival will take place online and at the Curbside Cinema drive-in Nov 11-25

The wildly reimagined Cucalorus Film Festival is proud to announce its first round of cinematic selections that range from insane and confusing to uplifting and hilarious. The festival comes to you this year through a series of Drive-in experiences at the Curbside Cinema at UNCW combined with a hefty schedule of online screenings and late-night performances. Passes go on sale today and include an all-access online pass for only $50. Click here to get a pass today! 

Headlining the bold group of early documentary selections is Mo Scarpelli’s mesmerizing “El Father Plays Himself.” Scarpelli skillfully upends traditional doc format as she follows a young filmmaker making a feature about his boozy father’s tumultuous life in the Venezualan Amazon. As the title suggests, the filmmaker casts his father to play his father.

Peabody award winning director/producer Erika Cohn’s documentary feature, “Belly of the Beast,” takes a look at a pattern of illegal sterilizations in women’s prisons and the near impossible battle waged against the Department of Corrections. Jennifer Sharp’s second documentary feature “The Chasing of a Great Movie” is an honest, inspirational story about living your best life, enjoying the journey, and how the human spirit surpasses all borders, races, and stereotypes. Sharp uses humor to address racism and business destroys art. 

SXSW selection “Best Summer Ever” is a delightfully original take on a teen musical with eight original songs and a fully integrated cast and crew with and without disabilities, including Wilmington’s own Jeremy Vest as the high school mascot. Local filmmakers Hannah Black and Megan Petersen come back home after an impressive festival run, despite the pandemic, with their loving family drama “Drought,” about an autistic teen who steals the family ice-cream truck with his sisters to chase the storm of the year.

Following up on the festival’s equity commitments, out of the 35 early selections 23 of the films are directed by people of color and there are 19 female directors, 14 male directors, 2 non-binary, 2 two-spirit, 1 trans-woman, and 1 trans-man. Standout shorts include Stephanie Diane Ford’s magical film “Black Baptism” and Danielle Deadwyler’s hauntingly emotional dance film “CHOR(E)S.”

Additional films will be announced next week along with the full schedule of Drive-ins and virtual events including live performances, community conversations, and get-togethers.

Early Selections for Cucalorus 26 Include:

Narrative Feature Films

  • Best Summer Ever directed by Michael Parks Randa & Lauren Smitelli
  • Drought directed by Hannah Black & Megan Petersen
  • Freeland directed by Kate McLean, Mario Furloni
  • Inspector Ike directed by Graham Mason


Documentary Feature Films

  • Belly of the Beast directed by Erika Cohn
  • El Father Plays Himself directed by Mo Scarpelli
  • Stories I Didn’t Know directed by Melody Gilbert, Rita Davern
  • The Chasing of a Great Movie directed by Jennifer Sharp


Short Films

  • A Syrian Woman directed by Khawla Al Hammouri, Louis Karim Sayad DeCaprio
  • Assholes directed by Jonny Look
  • Augustus directed by Jon Alston
  • Beneath the Earth directed by Joseph Rucker II
  • Brother directed by Ya’Ke
  • Chor(e)s directed by Danielle Deadwyler
  • Don’t Be a Sucka directed by A.J. Riggins
  • Fitness! Or a story about Sweat directed by Kana Hatakeyama
  • Future Ancestor directed by Josue Rivas
  • Heart Tick Kaboom directed by Grace Kim & Ty Lance West
  • I’m Free Now, You Are Free directed by Ash Goh Hua
  • Kapaemahu directed by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer & Joe WIlson
  • Kindred Kings directed by Trey Gray
  • Liminal directed by Daniel Abramovici
  • Little Chief directed by Erica Tremblay
  • Must Love Pie directed by Patrick Clement
  • Pink, White & Blue directed by Ash Malone
  • Schroon Lake directed by Eryka Dellenbach
  • Second Seed directed by Baye & Asa
  • Sin Cielo directed by Jianna Maarten
  • Tamales y Tunas directed by Lucía Archila Escobar
  • Tbh: u cute directed by Bailey James
  • The Black Baptism directed by Stephanie Diane Ford
  • The Rougarou directed by Lorraine Caffery
  • Tides directed by Andre Silva
  • Trudie’s Goose directed by C. Lily Ericsson, Cheri Gaulke, Samara Hutman, Liran Kapel
  • Two Little Boys directed by Farbod Khoshtinat
  • Weekend directed by Ario Motevaghe
  • When the Waters Get Deep directed by Kelly Whalen


The Cucalorus Film Festival is sponsored by the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, University of North Carolina Wilmington, National Endowment for the Arts, and North Carolina Arts Council.