Cucalorus Film Festival is worth a road trip to Wilmington

 By Bradley Bethel

October 29, 2017

North Carolina is home to some of the best film festivals in the South. The state’s three most notable festivals — Cucalorus (Wilmington), Full Frame (Durham), and RiverRun (Winston-Salem)— program acclaimed films from around the world and have become destination film festivals for filmmakers and film lovers alike. All three consistently provide an exemplary, though distinct, festival experience, and each warrants its own superlative. In its 23rd year of forging dynamic partnerships, developing engaging programming, and doing it all in style, Cucalorus is no doubt the coolest film festival in North Carolina.

What distinguishes Cucalorus is the creativity oozing from everything it does. For starters, Cucalorus is more than a film festival: it’s also a performing arts festival and an innovation conference. On top of that, Cucalorus hosts a series of parties infused with energy and pulsing with multimedia performances and displays. It isn’t just a festival you merely attend — it’s a festival you experience. This year, the experience takes place November 8 – 12 in Downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.

Here are a few reasons you should attend:

Cucalorus Connect: The festival’s innovation conference, featuring more than 30 presentations and workshops. For the entrepreneurs and tech professionals, here are three Connect events that could inspire new ideas for your work:

  • Collaboration Fuels Design Innovation & Social Change: Collaborating with experts across diverse disciplines leads to revolutionary new products, technologies and methodologies. Join Aly Khalifa (Designbox) and Andrew Williams (Elite Innovations) for a discussion on how to leverage your networks for inspiration and the tangible tools to drive change.
  • DisruptHer: Women Leaders Are Transforming Their Industries: Market disruptors have paved the way for innovation across a range of industries. In this panel, women leaders in media, technology, clinical research, the arts, and education share their perspectives and experiences, including how they have inspired positive change.
  • Media in the Age of Digital Disruption: The media industry — starting with print and music but now spreading to TV and film — has been upended by new technology over the past 20 years. Our panelists, two national multi-platform experts for ESPN and CBS Sports, respectively, answer the top-of-mind questions raised by this disruptive era.
via Cucalorus facebook

The Parties: Of course, you don’t want to miss the parties. More than just drinks and hanging out, these are the events that take Cucalorus from fun to exhilarating:

  • Opening Night Party: Kick off your Cucalorus by grabbing yourself a mix drank and enjoy a music video projection mix with performers mimicking dance moves and lip syncing song lyrics to create an interactive entertainment immersion that can’t be found anywhere else in this dimension.
  • Cucalorus Oyster Party: Button up for a cocktail and raw oysters party at the Bellamy Mansion, with fresh oysters courtesy of Sandbar Oyster Company, a free all-festival event.
  • VJs & DJs BFs 4 EVs: A dance party that celebrates the intimate relationship of visual stimulation and audio propagation. Grab a hand-crafted cocktail and immerse the rest of your body in the love that radiates between music and video creators.

Cucalorus Stage: The festival’s performing arts program, features a series of extravagant and provocative theater shows, comedy acts, and musical performances. Choosing from among the nearly 30 Stage events this year will be tough, but here are three that look especially enticing:

  • American Psychobabble: A delirious anti-narrative of American emptiness, violence, and nonsense — part exorcism and part enema! With styrofoam wings, x-mas lights, and ketchup.
  • Dance-a-lorus: A festival tradition, Dance-a-lorus pushes boundaries by pairing filmmakers and choreographers for an exploration of film and dance. This live stage event encourages collaboration as a fundamental form of creative expression. From abstraction to documentary, film and choreography come together in an experimental showcase of the region’s most talented artists.
  • Zeppelin Was a Cover Band: Zeppelin Was A Cover Band mixes documentary-type storytelling and theatrical performance to recount the story of the blues through the music of rock band Led Zeppelin. Stéfan Cédilot tells how the band built a career on a veritable plundering of blues standards while the original recordings play, some dating as far back as the 1920s.

The Films: Finally, the films. Cucalorus brings more than 300 of the best films on the festival circuit to Wilmington for five days, making the Port City a cinephile’s paradise. Here are five films we’re most looking forward to seeing:

Everything Beautiful is Far Away

If you’re looking for a visual masterpiece, this may be it: the film won the Best Cinematography award at the L.A. film festival. Billed as a sc-fi fable, the film follows a man, a robot, and woman as they hike across a desert planet in search of a mythical lake.

Let the Corpses Tan

The film is described as “a deliriously hypnotic, ultra-violent pastiche of retro Euro-crime thrillers, spaghetti westerns and giallo horror.” They had me at “deliriously hypnotic.”

The Power of Glove

If you grew up in the ‘80s, you probably remember Nintendo’s short-lived Power Glove. But you probably didn’t know that a small but dedicated fanbase remains, and they have been re-purposing the Glove in creative ways. This documentary reveals their story.

A Bad Idea Gone Wrong

Winner of a Special Jury Award at SXSW, this comedy follows the misadventure of two would-be thieves who trap themselves in a house after accidentally arming the alarm.

Working in Protest

From the directing team behind Who Took Johnny and All The Rage, this new documentary chronicles 30 years of protests and activism in America.

Bonus: In addition to the feature films, Cucalorus will also program a number of short-film blocks. Among the shorts we’re most looking forward to seeing are “McKayla,” “Mixtape Marauders,” and “The Poet and the Professor.”

Whatever you’re doing November 8 – 12, I doubt it’s as fun as Cucalorus Film Festival. Come for the films, stay for the parties.

Learn more about Cucalorus Film Festival.

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