“NC Sixty“ screened Friday afternoon at Thalian Hall, and reminded audiences what film festivals are all about: tech problems. (We’re kidding. Sort of.) After filmmaker and Cucalorus sweetheart Erica Dunton delivered a moving speech about her history with Cucalorus, the film began in a beautiful, sweeping dolly shot of a woman singing in a church – only audiences couldn’t hear the woman. There was no sound.
“Tanya,” Erica said, her voice carrying through the theater. “Would you like to come up here and sing?”
A woman named Tanya, the same woman audiences had just seen moments ago on screen, dressed in a sparkly black dress, hesitantly made her way toward the stage.
Emcee Matt Malloy handed her the microphone, and wow, did Tanya sing.
Her powerful voice was only interrupted when she would forget the occasional lyric, and Dunton would chime in to help her out. This is when audiences got to experience the beauty of a local film festival – the spontaneity, the community, and the authenticity of personal interactions with filmmakers and actors that we think big cinema just can’t offer.
The tech issues quickly resolved themselves, but the opening song couldn’t have gone better if it had been planned. It was a perfect introduction to this very special project that features 60 local actors (many at the start of their careers) and even more local crew.
“NC Sixty” is the product of work-shopped scenes from a range of local actors who worked with Dunton over the course of a month. The short scenes, which feature each actor in both lead and supporting roles, will provide those who are starting out in the industry with rich material for their reels.
There wasn’t, however, much narrative connection between scenes.
“They’re all disconnected,” Dunton said, “but where you will find commonality is the theme of human connection … I kept telling my actors you’re not performing, you’re not acting, you’re humanizing.”
Dunton expanded on that sentiment, explaining that people are never characterized by one simple emotion.
“No one is only scared,” she said, “you’re scared and angry and there’s a whole person behind those emotions that you have to take into account.”
She gave audiences a little taste of the kind of in-depth discussions she had with “NC Sixty” actors over their month-long workshops, and the Cuc’ crew already feels like the group has benefited from the experience.
If you’re interested in some of Dunton’s other work, check out the live script reading of her latest work in progress, “An Untitled Love Story,” at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 16, at City Stage.