26th annual Cucalorus Film Festival kicks off with online, drive-in movies

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wednesday kicked off the two week 26th annual Cucalorus Film Festival, a Wilmington staple since the 1990’s. This year it’s going to look a lot different thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cucalorus’ self-proclaimed chief instigating officer Dan Brawley says they had to re-imagine the festival and get experimental.

“We wanted to host a festival that we were 100 percent sure that we could pull off regardless of what kind of restrictions are in place, or how things are changing from day to day,” Brawley said.

Instead of viewing films in theaters, everything will be viewable either online or in a drive-in setting at UNCW.

“Those drive-ins are going to be really fun experiences if you pack the car up with snacks, head out to UNCW, get there a little bit early so you get a good spot in the lot,” he said.

One movie being shown at UNCW is the locally filmed and produced ‘Drought.’ It’s about two sisters and their brother who is on the autism spectrum chasing after a storm.

Co-creator and actor Megan Peterson says this is the first time it will be shown on the big screen in front of a live audience.

“I think it will be really cool to feel the energy of everyone watching it in the same place even though we’re in cars, and we will be there to do a Q & A after,” she said.

The film has won awards at virtual film festivals earlier this year, but this will be its Wilmington premiere.

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“Hopefully you’ll get the right message from it, I think that’s the really important thing,” said Owen Scheid, who plays Carl in the movie. “Of course, there’s no such thing as normal and not to give it away, but that’s the main message overall and differences are okay.”

For the films that aren’t being shown at UNCW, Brawley says there are two different ways to watch them.

“So we have a whole schedule of events that are live online, so those films have a specific start time,” he said. “And then we have a whole library of content that will be streaming, and so those films will be available for four days at a time.”

There will be question and answer sessions with the filmmakers directly following the livestreamed movies. There will be separate Zoom sessions for the on demand movies so viewers can chat with one another and the filmmakers.

Also notable this year, Brawley says a large portion of films were directed by minorities and women.

“We decided to waive the entry fee for all black, indigenous, and Latino filmmakers,” he said. “And this year’s festival, 50 percent of the films are directed by those filmmakers.”

Brawley says to get the full Cucalorus experience, he recommends attendees make a point to view the shorts blocks.

“Those are the films that are being made by young filmmakers, they’re bold and original, new works,” he said. “That’s where you see the future.”

Click here to buy Cucalorus tickets, including drive-in showings.

Click here to view the trailer for Drought.

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