Thursday, October 15, 2020


 “Racism, and pandemic boredom under attack at Cucalorus, I dare you!!”  

Drive-ins, Special Live Online Events, and a streaming library with lots of options every day 

Opening night sports a double feature of Mo Scarpelli’s EL FATHER PLAYS HIMSELF and

Sabrina Mertens’ TIME OF MOULTING

Wilmington, NC (October 15, 2020) – The 26th Annual Cucalorus Film Festival has announced that passes and tickets are now on sale, along with the full schedule of screenings and events for this year’s hybrid event with both online and drive-in screenings. The celebration brings together film and performance and will be held November 11-25 with a slate of challenging new films availave in three formats: at the Curbside Cinema at UNCW, Live Online, and Streaming On-demand. Opening night will feature a one-two punch of Mo Scapelli’s EL FATHER PLAYS HIMSELF and Sabrina Mertens’ TIME OF MOULTING, and Curbside Cinema at UNCW screenings will include festival must-see titles like Danny Madden’s BEAST BEAST, and Mario Furloni and Kate McLean’s FREELAND, starring Krisha Fairchild. 

A lineup of live performances will be led by infamous performance artist Kristina Wong, Wilmington’s own Julie-Ann Scott-Pollock, and legendary art pop band, Sparks! Cucalorus Connect uses film as a catalyst for discussions about undoing racism and community transformation. Special guests will include author Damon Young, whose book What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker was released in 2019 by HarperCollins. 

Cucalorus Film Festival Chief Instigating Officer Dan Brawley said, “I don’t think anyone was really ready for the strange and challenging energy of the past six months. But we’ve really seized this as a chance to focus in on what we do best: to surprise people, to challenge people, and to bring people together. In some ways, the wacky, off-the-wall energy at Cucalorus is perfect for difficult situations. We’re adaptable and flexible and always looking for a good reason to try something new. This year’s festival aims to continue making that vital connection for filmmakers and performers but we’ve been forced to examine what matters most. So we’ve made a bigger commitment to equity, to sharing more stories centered on Black, Brown and Indigenous people. But also sharing power and making sure those stories are accountable. I see this year’s festival as the beginning of a new era for Cucalorus and for storytellers. The most exciting part is that we have no idea what will actually happen. So tune in, and find out!” 

Opening Night will feature two films, Mo Scarpelli’s EL FATHER PLAYS HIMSELF, and Sabrina Mertens’ TIME OF MOULTING. EL FATHER PLAYS HIMSELF is about a young director who is inspired to make a film based on his father’s life in the Amazon jungle, starring his father as himself. That decision – made as an act of love and ambition — takes the film and his relationship to a place he wasn’t prepared to go. TIME OF MOULTING will be the first of four “Convulsions” presentations hosted by film raconteur Aaron Hillis. Set in 1970s Germany, the film focuses on a lively child who enjoys board games and playdates with neighbors, until she becomes increasingly emotionally isolated from her parents. Unfolding as a beautiful series of intricate tableaux vivants of creeping dread, we witness an equally sublime and crushing portrait of trauma.

 Additional online feature film highlights include; Heather Young’s multiple award-winning drama MURMUR, about a woman ordered to perform community service at the local animal shelter, who begins to fil the loneliness in her life by taking more and more animals home until she gets in over her head; Graham Mason’s INSPECTOR IKE, a “lost 70s TV movie” which follows New York City’s greatest police detective, who finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse after the conniving understudy of an avant-garde theater group knocks off the star actor; Jennifer Sharp’s documentary THE CHASING OF A GREAT MOVIE, looks at the experience of an African American woman who fearlessly travels alone to Mexico to accomplish her 17-year dream of making a movie there; and George King’s THUMBS UP FOR MOTHER UNIVERSE: STORIES FROM THE LIFE OF LONNIE HOLLEY, another award-winner, that looks at the remarkable life of the enigmatic and prolific artist and musician Lonnie Holley. There will also be three “Secret Convulsions” presentations hosted by Aaron Hillis. These secret screenings will likely involve film rarities, unexpected gems, and films not for the faint of heart. 

Twelve shorts film blocks, named after mushrooms (“Dewdrop Dapperling,” “Gassy Webcap,”, “Purple Jellydisc,” etc.) range from three sections showcasing new documentaries about race, land, immigration, and gender to a hefty selection of experimental work and comedies. Following the festival’s tradition of showcasing choreography on film and in front of film, the “Witches Butter” shorts block features the World Premiere of Tuixén Benet’s mesmerizing featurette ALOMA & MILA, shot on the coast of Spain. 


Cucalorus’ Curbside Cinema at UNCW will include; Michael Parks Randa, and Lauren Smitelli’s BEST SUMMER EVER, about a couple facing the drama of high school after falling in love at a dance camp over the summer. The film features a cast and crew of people with and without disabilities; Danny Madden’s BEAST BEAST follows ratchets up the tension via three interwoven stories of youth navigating identity, first love, petty crime, and gun violence in a Southern, American town; Jonathan Wysocki’s DRAMARAMA is about a group of conservative drama teens in the mid 90s who throw their final murder mystery party before heading off to college. However, an unexpected visit by a rebel upends everything including the plans of one member who wants to come out as gay to his best friends before they leave – but is terrified of the changes that may bring; and Mario Furloni and Kate McLean’s FREELAND, about an aging pot farmer who suddenly finds her world shattered as she fights against the threat of eviction at the same time the impact of the legalization of the cannabis industry looms.


The Stage program kicks off and closes with two one-woman shows— Reality Television, Political Theater, and Social Change by Kristina Wong, and Gazed At: Stories of a Mortal Body, by Julie-Ann Scott-Pollock. Visual/Sound/Walls returns featuring Sparks!, one of the greatest cult bands of all time for a special Friday the 13th retrospective of their wildly inventive music videos, along with live chats throughout the evening! The middle of the festival is full of get-togethers, including a meet-up with CultureHub to learn about LiveLab, their browser-based media-router for collaborative performance. And in sticking with tradition, Emcees will introduce all programs, bringing living room theatrics to the screen. 


This year’s Cucalorus Connect workshops build on the format of the Community Conversations series using film as a catalyst for discussion about undoing racism. Six events will explore the relationship between storytelling and action as we tackle the nation’s most pressing issues and seek a path to real action and change. Sessions will be facilitated by Damon Young (Author, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker), Rebecca Trammel (Author, Enforcing the Convict Code: Violence and Prison Culture), Working Films, Ebony Golden (Founder, Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative), Kim Pevia (Founder and CEO, K.A.P. Knowledge. Application. Practice of the human dynamic), and Kevin Maurer (Author, No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden).

 Cucalorus is sponsored by the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and over 45 local businesses.  The Cucalorus Film Foundation is funded, in part, by grants from grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and South Arts with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 For information on purchasing passes, tickets, and additional details on the Cucalorus Film festival, please go to:

 Cucalorus Film Festival 2020 film descriptions:


Opening Night


Director: Mo Scarpelli

Country: Venezuela, Running Time: 105 min

A young film director returns to Venezuela, inspired to make a film based on his father’s life in the Amazon jungle. He casts Father to play himself. What starts as an act of love and ambition — filmmaking to more deeply understand the self, and the other — spirals into a process which confronts Father’s struggles with addiction and his life devoid of his son.



Director: Sabrina Mertens

Country: Germany, Running Time: 80 min

Set in 1970s Germany, Stephanie is a lively child who enjoys board games and playdates with neighbors, but her life becomes increasingly more isolated at the hands of her absent, temperamental father and mentally unstable mother. Unfolding as a beautiful series of intricate tableaux vivants (57 instances of still life) over weeks, months, even years of creeping dread, this equally sublime and crushing portrait of trauma and the invisible mold that can rot an entire household is not for the faint of heart.

Curbside Cinema at UNCW


Directors: Michael Parks Randa, Lauren Smitelli

Country: US, Running Time: 73 min

Sage and Anthony face the drama of high school after falling in love at a dance camp over the summer. An original musical featuring a cast and crew of people with and without disabilities. Created by Zeno Mountain Farm.



Director: Danny Madden

Country: US, Running Time: 85 min

Three interwoven stories of youth navigating identity, first love, petty crime, and gun violence in a Southern, American town. Brimming with energy and style, Beast Beast captures what it means to come of age in an era marked by technology and social media, where violent clashes awaken dormant passions and teenagers are faced with growing up all too quickly.



Directors: Hannah Black, Megan Petersen

Country: US, Running Time: 84 min

It’s 1993 and the south is experiencing the worst drought in history. However, Carl, who is on the autism spectrum, is fascinated by weather and predicting a storm to hit west of his small town. In hopes of creating a better life for Carl, his sister Sam decides that they will chase the storm by stealing their mother’s ice cream truck. Unexpectedly, they are joined by their best friend Lewis and estranged older sister, Lillian where they learn about family, forgiveness, and following your dreams.



Director: Jonathan Wysocki

Country: US, Running Time: 91 min

It’s summer 1994, and a group of conservative drama teens throw their final murder mystery party before heading off to college. During the game, an unexpected visit by a rebel makes them question their readiness for the “real world” to come. At the center of the group is Gene, who wants to come out as gay to his best friends before they leave – but is terrified of the changes that may bring.



Directors: Mario Furloni, Kate McLean

Country: US, Running Time: 80 min

An aging pot farmer suddenly finds her world shattered as she races to bring in what could be her final harvest, fighting against the threat of eviction as the impact of the legalization of the cannabis industry rapidly destroys her idyllic way of life.




Director: Carla Forte

Country: Venezuela, US, Cuba, Running Time: 87 min

Venezuelan filmmaker and dancer Carla Forte’s experimental feature Conejo draws on her expertise about the demanding rehearsal process and fuses it with her unique storytelling style to create an unforgettable dynamic between two characters immersed in the creative process. A director and an actress rehearse for a play called “Rabbit.” As they rehearse in total isolation and in increasingly grueling circumstances, two stories begin to develop and intertwine: the creation of a character, and the daily lives of those involved in its creation. Psychological abuse and mistreatment by the director soon bring the actress to a point where her deepest desires merge into the character she represents: the rabbit.



Director: Graham Mason

Country: US, Running Time: 83 min

Inspector Ike, New York City’s greatest police detective, finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse after the conniving understudy of an avant-garde theater group knocks off the star actor. A “lost TV movie” from the 1970’s, INSPECTOR IKE mixes visual gags, slapstick, gross food, and heartfelt emotion. Think COLUMBO meets THE NAKED GUN, featuring a rogue’s gallery of NYC’s best comedians.



Director: Heather Young

Country: US, Running Time: 85 min

Donna has recently been convicted of “Driving While Impaired” and is ordered to perform community service at the local animal shelter. When an elderly dog is scheduled to be euthanized, Donna decides to take the dog home and quickly realizes his companionship can ease her loneliness. In a futile attempt to fill the emptiness she feels, Donna begins to take home more and more animals and she is soon in over her head.



Director: Shatara Michelle Ford

Country: US, Running Time: 82 min

TEST PATTERN follows an interracial couple whose relationship is put to the test after a Black woman is sexually assaulted and her white boyfriend drives her from hospital to hospital in search of a rape kit.





Director: Erika Cohn

Country: US, Running Time: 81 min

When an unlikely duo discovers a pattern of illegal sterilizations in women’s prisons, they wage a near impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. Filmed over seven years with extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people, Belly of the Beast exposes modern-day eugenics and reproductive injustice in California prisons.



Director: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor

Country: US, Running Time: 90 min

As her small, blue-collar city struggles to emerge from the opioid epidemic and gets caught up in battles over change, identity, and self-mythology, FOR THE LOVE OF RUTLAND closely follows the story of Stacie Griffin – a remarkable and resilient woman who lives in the toughest neighborhood of the heroin-battered town of Rutland, Vermont. After 38 years of steady hardship and near invisibility in a town that is overwhelmingly white and deeply stratified by class, Stacie yearns to improve her own situation and those of her neighbors – including three Syrian families who arrive in her town just before the federal government bans refugee resettlement.



Director: Megan Daniels

Country: US, Running Time: 65 min

PROPER PRONOUNS tells the story of Dawn as she seeks validation in the pulpit and reconciliation in her marriage, problems she did not face when she was Duane. The film chronicles the emotional journey that four transgender ministers and their spouses are taking as they try to redefine their identities and prove to the Southern community that they belong in the pulpit.



Directors: Melody Gilbert, Rita Davern

Country: US, Running Time: 74 min

A search for her Irish ancestors leads a woman down an unexpected path to reveal a family secret about a sacred piece of land. Like many children of immigrants, the past was often an unexamined topic. We learn the value of finding and facing the past by watching her journey.



Director: Jennifer Sharp

Country: US, Running Time: 83 min

When an African American woman fearlessly travels alone to Mexico to accomplish her 17-year dream of making a movie there, a town full of Mexicans help her to succeed. An honest inspirational story about living your best life, enjoying the journey, and how the human spirit surpasses all borders, races, and stereotypes.



Director: Nathan Clarke

Country: US, Running Time: 70 min

Three professions ushered Black former slaves from poverty to the American dream: preacher, teacher, and undertaker. Today, renowned embalmer James Bryant puts his faith in a new generation to continue this vanishing legacy. He’s met with resistance from his young intern, Clarence Pierre, who himself is conflicted about his commitment due to the judgment he feels from the Black community as a queer, Christian man.



Director: George King

Country: US, Running Time: 95 min

This story of survival, endurance and triumph spans decades in the life of remarkable artist Lonney Holley. An improbable success, Holley’s story uncovers truths about race and class in the American South. Through a mixture of formats from archival footage spanning his long and wild career, King’s epic doc paints a deep and inspiring story about a troubled and visionary Alabama artist.




Hairy Parachute Shorts **AT CURBSIDE CINEMA


Director: Jenn Shaw

Country: US, Running Time: 11:22 min

After multiple encounters with her bully and a little academic inspiration, an African-American teen girl finally stands up for herself against classmates that question her cultural identity.



Director: Deepak Sethi

Country: US, Running Time: 8 min

Three Indian people imagine their personas as their “coffee shop names,” the names they give baristas because their real names are hard to pronounce.



Director: Leah Shore

Country: US, Running Time: 1 min

Don’t Touch Your Face!! A Public Service Announcement. Song by The Lunachicks’ Gina Volpe  



Director: Mike Lars White

Country: US, Running Time: 9:34 min

Graduates of an obscure German art school become guinea pigs for a young woman’s mediation skills when their relationship turmoil reaches fever pitch in a shopping mall parking lot.



Director: Kana Hatakeyama

Country: US, Running Time: 12 min

A titillating spiritual comedy about seeking your joyful, deepest nature through technology, human connection…and sweat.



Director: Delanie Gilliss

Country: US, Running Time: 1 min

Two hunters encounter misfortune in the woods.



Director: Brent Clark

Country: US, Running Time: 6:10 min

While rehearsing his act backstage minutes before a comedy show, quadriplegic “sit down” comedian Leo receives an unexpected phone call from his ex-girlfriend Robin. The conversation quickly turns personal, and reveals their complicated history together. Ultimately Leo is forced to take stock of his relationship with Robin and his life moving forward.



Director: Zara Burdett

Country: US, Running Time: 5 min

A young woman on a hot date is having the worst period of her life.  A visceral, comedic, body-positive short film that demystifies taboos surrounding menstruation. Filmed over two days on a micro-budget, this labor of love was crafted by a team of LA-based women filmmakers in their garage.



Directors: Amina Sutton, Maya Tanaka

Country: US, Running Time: 6:30 min

An aspiring artist discusses the challenges of finding affordable housing in a new city, and the compromises she has to make with her spooky new roommates.


Additional Short Films

 Dewdrop Dapperling Shorts


Directors: Khawla Al Hammouri, Louis Karim Sayad DeCaprio

Country: Jordan, Running Time: 11 min

After nearly a decade of conflict, Syrian refugee women are the most vulnerable amid the crisis. Thousands have lost their families and husbands, and now must provide for their children, alone in an unfamiliar country. Six Syrian women living in Jordan recount their personal stories of survival – from displacement, child-marriage, and trauma, to their resilience and hope to rebuild a better future for their children.



Director: Rodrigo Dorfman

Country: US, Running Time: 7 min

Bulls and Saints is a lyrical documentary short based on a love letter written by an immigrant bull rider to his wife back home in Mexico.



Director: Alisha Bhowmik

Country: US, Running Time: 5:03 min

One afternoon, Alisha and Chris are hanging out on her fire escape when Alisha recalls a childhood anecdote revolving around her heritage. A short documentary about having a mixed identity that coalesces into an artist statement.



Director: Christina Capra

Country: US, Running Time: 10:37 min

Look deeper into the many phases and processes of Elizabeth Darrow’s art work in this local documentary produced by Art in Bloom gallery.



Director: Ash Malone

Country: US, Running Time: 18:03 min

After years of transitioning in front of a camera, Aydian Dowling discusses how allowing his transition to be visible via YouTube has helped the trans community as a whole grow in pride and allyship.



Director: Lucía Archila Escobar

Country: US, Running Time: 14:49 min

In the South Carolina Indigenous Guatemalan community, women face healthcare barriers that make it difficult to carry their pregnancies to term. Here, pregnant Erlinda longs for the familiar tastes of the nopal fruit, while Fabiana spends her days making tamales to get over a heartbreaking loss. An intimate look at family life, Tamales y Tunas asks what it means to make one’s way through motherhood far from the comforts of home.

 Gassy Webcap Shorts


Director: Josue Rivas

Country: US, Running Time: 10:13 min

Indigenous scholar and poet Lyla June challenges the status quo when she decides to run for House of Representatives in New Mexico’s District 47. Future Ancestor follows her through a 7-day “fast for the future” on the steps of the Capitol building. Fueled by prayer and bone broth, Lyla is an unlikely candidate who reveals a new vision for leadership, urging us to “think seven generations ahead.”



Director: Echo Wilson

Country: US, Running Time: 5 min

An animated documentary exploring humanity’s relationship with nature through a world of interviewed “animals.”



Directors: Edward Manuga, Georgianna Lepping, Jeremy Gwao, Regina Lepping, Zahiyd Namo, Junior Patrick Makau, Manner Levo, Neil Nuia, Daniel Kakadi

Country: US, Running Time: 7:34 min

Decades of logging have drastically changed the landscape and lifestyle of those who call the Solomon Islands home. Now, the last untouched forest of the country is at risk of being lost. The Indigenous communities who live in the high mountain forests, known locally as the “Sky Aelans” or Sky Islands, are the last guardians of these sacred spaces.



Director: Jalena Keane-Lee

Country: US, Running Time: 15 min

Standing Above the Clouds is a story of inter-generational women activists, who call themselves Ku Kia’i Mauna, or guardians of the mountain. The film follows three sets of mothers and daughters indigenous to the Big Island of Hawaii, at the forefront of the movement to protect their sacred mountain, Mauna Kea, from an eighteen story, Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Standing Above the Clouds explores the relationships between native Hawaiian mothers and daughters as they go from standing in ceremony, to standing on the mountain, and in the courtroom.



Director: Shawn Bannon

Country: US, Running Time: 10:37 min

In 2019, scientists discovered that several trees in Eastern North Carolina’s Three Sisters Swamp are over 2,000 years old; one is at least 2,624 years old. Located in a remote section of the Black River, the grove of trees is among the less than 1 percent of remaining virgin bald cypress forests in the United States. It’s a miracle these beautiful trees have escaped the axe for millennia––but could industrial agriculture threaten the ancient swamp’s future? Join us as we take a special tour of the Three Sisters Swamp with Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette.



Director: Andre Silva

Country: US, Running Time: 8 min

Filmed at Masonboro Island, an undeveloped barrier island in southeastern North Carolina, TIDES contemplates the liminal space between the modern technological world and that more ecological dimension we label as “nature” or “the environment.”



Directors: Brit Hensel, Taylor Hensel

Country: US, Running Time: 8:01 min

ZIBI YAJDAN/THE RIVER TELLS IT tells the story of the Kalamazoo River and her relationship to the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Pottawatomi people (Gun Lake Tribe) in the wake of the Enbridge Pipeline 6B oil spill. The Tribe leads efforts to restore and protect the Kalamazoo River, whose waters give life to habitats and natural resources intricately connected to the culture and identity of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish people.


Hairy Nut Disco Shorts


Directors: Josie Hess, Morgana Muses

Country: US, Running Time: 15 min

Melinah is a sex worker, camgirl and activist with cerebral palsy, this short intimate documentary explores her work, philosophy, and the intersections of her identity.



Director: Jonny Look

Country: US, Running Time: 10 min

A Scientist uses a series of torture related experiments on a variety of house plants in order get them to communicate with humans.



Director: Kenichi Ugana

Country: US, Running Time: 21:59 min

One day, a strange thing comes to her, who is suffering from being sexless with her boyfriend.



Directors: Benjamin Stillerman, Rachel Winton

Country: US, Running Time: 14:09 min

An experimental narrative comprised of over-the-phone and in-person interviews with Craiglist posters whose missed connections happened on the subway. Using the website’s iconic interface to display the transcript, the visuals highlight the yearning, humor, and emotion that are behind a post on the internet’s beloved semi-anonymous noticeboard.



Director: Faiyaz Jafri

Country: US, Running Time: 2 min

Jack is naked. Jack is pretending to play guitar. Jack looks silly?



Director: King Bach

Country: US, Running Time: 3:04 min

Laughter is the best medicine.



Directors: Gemma Doll-Grossman, Juan Pablo Arias Muñoz

Country: US, Running Time: 3:20 min

A darkly comedic 35mm short film about the horrors of bikini waxing.


King Oyster Shorts


Director: Regina Hoyles

Country: US, Running Time: 13:56 min

A young Chicago woman with a well-kept secret enjoys a typical day in the south suburbs.



Director: Jon Alston

Country: US, Running Time: 15:37 min

Augustus, a literate, escaped slave masquerading as a free man in Massachusetts just prior to the Civil War, experiences nightmares of his son’s death and a future America that resembles the struggles of his own time. Augustus soon realizes the horrors of slavery and racial inequality will only continue if he remains complicit. He’s left with one choice; speak out or risk his freedom.



Director: Ya’Ke Smith

Country: US, Running Time: 15 min

After his older brother Casey returns home from a prison sentence, Caleb’s relationship with his best friend Jason is put to the test.



Director: A.J. Riggins

Country: US, Running Time: 8:18 min

After a decade apart, two old friends, John and Brent reminisce over drinks and remember the good ole days of their past. As the drinks flow, Brent takes the opportunity to apologize for his family’s racist tendencies, revealing why their friendship became so estranged. When they switch from beers to something a little stronger, we learn that John’s true intentions weren’t just to catch up with an old friend.



Director: Joy J. James

Country: US, Running Time: 6:34 min

We’ve all done it. Looked at someone and formed an opinion. How often have we formed a negative sentiment based on how a person looks? How often have we thought about how that person came to be where they are? Remember: everyone has a story. Spoken Word and Film come together to help us bear witness to harsh truths.



Director: Trey Gray

Country: US, Running Time: 6:03 min

A poetically visual essay that explores freedom and versatility for the black man. Kindred Kings illustrates the journey for us to remember that black men are Kings, Kindred Kings. And as Kings, we get to decide the new narrative for the black man.



Director: Bailey James

Country: US, Running Time: 6:42 min

A narrative of being a black girl in a black world, and being forced to deal with the reality of being seemingly invisible in the real one.

Powdery Piggyback Shorts


Director: Alex Heller

Country: US, Running Time: 9:07 min

Within the midwestern animal kingdom, teenage workplaces (like Dairy Queen) are known to employ some of the most savage beasts of prey.  In this comedy about animal instincts to protect family, a retiree and her adult daughter must stand up to each other’s bullies.  *Pathetically and nostalgically based on true events.



Director: Erica Tremblay

Country: US, Running Time: 11:40 min

Against the landscape of a rural reservation in Oklahoma, the lives of a Native woman and nine-year-old boy intersect over the course of a school day. Exhausted and burned out, Sharon struggles to provide stability to her fifth grade students. Bear is having a particularly hard time, enduring challenges both at home and in the classroom. He is desperate to escape it all, and Sharon is left chasing a little boy who is running to nowhere.



Director: Logan Jackson

Country: US, Running Time: 12:49 min

As last-minute plans for a babysitter fall apart, eight-year-old Brandon is left alone to oversee his younger brother Mason.



Director: Jianna Maarten

Country: US, Running Time: 24:53 min

A young boy in a Mexican border town hustles any way he can to help his family but learns some very cruel realities when the girl he likes gets ‘disappeared’. Based on trues stories from La Frontera.



Director: Wanjiru Njendu

Country: US, Running Time: 2 min

A murderous spirit metes out vengeance on those it believes responsible for it’s death by luring their children away.



Director: Andrea Rosen

Country: US, Running Time: 12:55 min

A day in the life of 2 moms, Kitty (a pot smoking therapist) and Rita (an inept hair cutter). They worry that their 15-year-old daughter has a secret boyfriend or worse yet, a pimp! The moms wrestle with the anxiety, hormones, and hip hop, of all of it.



Director: Lorraine Caffery

Country: US, Running Time: 14:30 min

A father tells his daughter a cautionary tale to keep her out of trouble.



Director: Farbod Khoshtinat

Country: US, Running Time: 13:12 min

A boy’s secret love for his closeted bully drives him into an unconventional road to confession and its consequences.


Purple Jellydisc Shorts


Director: Joseph Rucker II

Country: US, Running Time: 2:40 min

A man encounters Hell. Is it real? Is it too late?



Director: Daniel Abramovici

Country: US, Running Time: 11:59 min

Steve lives both his past and present concurrently. As time is compressed and he flows through spirals of love and sexuality, Steve finds himself in a transition; stuck between a family life built on half measures, and a desire for a more authentic experience.



Director: Eryka Dellenbach

Country: US, Running Time: 14:38 min

SCHROON LAKE is a film by Eryka Dellenbach in collaboration with performance artists Matty Davis and Ben Gould adapting their work Carriage to the 9-mile long frozen lake in the Adirondacks. Shot on expired 16mm film, the film offers an intimate sightline of the unstable space between masculinities, refracted through the winter and mutually activated syndromes, perceived and rearranged through a queer, female gaze.



Director: Baye & Asa

Country: US, Running Time: 15:24 min

SECOND SEED is a dance horror film responding to D.W. Griffith’s THE BIRTH OF A NATION.  Griffith’s film is an assertion of white cultural and intellectual supremacy, a call to arms against the changing social/racial structure of the United States. This film is an exploration of white-victimhood and its enduring viral effect on American politics and relationships. Through choreography, Second Seed tells the story of a white family’s descent into madness.



Director: Stephanie Diane Ford

Country: US, Running Time: 20 min

Informed by a mysterious voice, an imprisoned young woman must pass a series of enigmatic tests or face a violent death as the terrifying situation unlocks a dormant power in this story of courage and redemption.  THE BLACK BAPTISM is a short film about a young woman who awakens imprisoned by a mysterious group. This afro-futurist psychological thriller explores themes around redemption, finding the courage to face fear and connecting to the God within using mythological concepts to visualize the Prisoner’s evolution through a fantasy lens.



Director: Ario Motevaghe

Country: US, Running Time: 7:26 min

Moniri and Kheradmand family are in park for a picnic. But after finishing their meal, it is revealed that they are here for something else.


Slippery Jack Shorts


Director: Heather Jensen

Country: US, Running Time: 4:46 min

Complicated love and a stirring self-awareness take over this lusciously-haunted video



Director: Kelley Van Dilla

Country: US, Running Time: 2:43 min

An epic documentary of the world’s greatest hacky sacker.



Director: Sean Pierce

Country: US, Running Time: 7:08 min

A woman re-caulks a tub by herself.  A Film about Anxiety



Director: Patrick Clement

Country: US, Running Time: 13:06 min

A lonely man finds a love connection.



Director: Artemis Shaw

Country: US, Running Time: 14:52 min

A woman goes on a live talk show to confront a famous music producer, only to find him armed with the elusive “perfect apology.”



Director: Ya’Ke Smith

Country: US, Running Time: 15 min

An anthology series about love and grief during quarantine. Filmed entirely during the Coronavirus Lockdown using Social Distance and Virtual Directing.



Director: Tiara Luten

Country: US, Running Time: 8:27 min

The U.S. government has just announced the outbreak of a deadly new disease and requires all citizens to remain in their homes. But this outbreak, we soon learn, has been fabricated by the President to secretly isolate and quarantine anyone related to immigrants who have arrived since the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.


Turquoise Elfcup Shorts


Director: Ash Goh Hua

Country: US, Running Time: 14:40 min

A short documentary about the reunion and repair between Mike Africa Jr and his mother Debbie Africa—a formerly incarcerated political prisoner of the MOVE9. In 1978, Debbie, then 8 months pregnant, and many other family members were arrested after an attack by the Philadelphia Police Department; born in a prison cell, Mike Africa Jr. spent just three days with his mother before guards wrenched him away, and they spent the next 40 years struggling for freedom and for each other. In 2018, Debbie was finally granted parole.



Director: Dorian Emerson

Country: US, Running Time: 20 min

Latin for the word Blacks, Negros is an experimental short film depicting the young black male experience in modern day Miami. The story follows James, 14, as he overcomes a series of traumas in order to make a difference in his neighborhood and rediscover adolescent joy.



Director: Jun Bae

Country: US, Running Time: 13:27 min

Turfing is an Oakland-born dance form that combines roots in gang culture with elements of tutting, gliding and bone breaking; Turf Nation follows the street dancers perform on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) trains, as they pave their own paths towards freedom and independence.



Director: Kelly Whalen

Country: US, Running Time: 33:50 min

The Oakland musicians of SOL Development use hip-hop, jazz and soul to tell stories about the effects of policing, mass incarceration and gun violence, and the band members work to create spaces for healing in Black and brown communities. When MC Karega Bailey loses his own brother in a shooting, his grief makes him sick with revenge and hopelessness, and he is left questioning his own message of hope and peace. Turning to his faith, family and writing, Bailey finds his voice and purpose again. With the collective BE-IMAGINATIVE, Bailey and his bandmates help lead retreats for mothers whose children have been taken by gun violence. This work prepares Bailey and his wife, Felicia, as they are tested with another profound personal loss.


Twisted Deceiver Shorts


Director: Kevin Lee Maxwell

Country: US, Running Time: 9:15 min

Daniel, a highly accomplished dancer, comes home from college only to find himself entangled in a battle between himself and his concerned father.



Director: Amber Love

Country: US, Running Time: 17:19 min

Black communities in Chicago, Detroit, and Durham use Afrofuturism as a tool to inspire young people, organize politically and economically, and reimagine the spaces around them in this captivating experimental documentary. Short movements ranging from interviews to verité-driven scenes take us from an Afrofuturist youth center in Durham, NC to Chicago’s south side to reimagine a historic university and finally to a Wakanda-inspired Afrofuturism convention where race is deconstructed as a technology.



Director: Ace McColl

Country: US, Running Time: 3:30 min

Told through compiled voicemails and damaged analog tapes, this piercing short film offers an intimate look into a daughter’s complicated relationship with her father. Increasingly callous messages play in contrast with sentimental home videos, revealing two conflicting narratives of a father and child at odds with one another.



Director: Rebecca Walters

Country: US, Running Time: 17:08 min

When faced with the opportunity for a solo performance, an aging dancer must question whether her moral compass and personal integrity are important enough to stand up to a choreographer’s unwanted sexual advances.



Director: Blanche Akonchong

Country: US, Running Time: 11:21 min

On a crazy day during mercury retrograde, a family’s deepest secrets come to the surface forcing them to realize they are not the model African family.



Director: Kay Barnes

Country: US, Running Time: 13:41 min

Ayana and John are the mother and father of three wonderful children, whom are growing up in a military community. John is an Army officer and Ayana is a family medicine doctor. Despite the everyday stressors of juggling everything it takes to be a military family of five, Ayana and John seem to be thriving in their very proud self-sustaining community. However, one winter evening while creating Christmas crafts with the kids, one of the kids finds an item that doesn’t belong to either John nor Ayana. Tensions rise between Ayana and John as the facade they have maintained begins to quickly shatter.



Director: Kristi Ray

Country: US, Running Time: 5:44 min

Two lovers do their last load of laundry.


Weeping Toothcrust Shorts


Director: Emily Ann Hoffman

Country: US, Running Time: 7:46 min

A woman copes with bad therapy, heartbreak and blackheads.



Directors: Grace Kim, Ty Lance West

Country: US, Running Time: 1 min

An experimental drop into the whimsical world of the Atlanta airport, as seen through an Alien girls’ eyes.



Directors: Justin Lacy, J. Noel Sullivan

Country: US, Running Time: 5 min

Plants are illegal. Not enough water. However, on the train to the Isle of Plastic, two young wards of the state sneak in some gardening.  Practical effects, cardboard props, and stop-motion animation make for a playful, yet ominous world, choreographed to Justin Lacy’s “I Don’t Need Another.”



Directors: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson

Country: US, Running Time: 8:25 min

Kapaemahu reveals the healing power of four mysterious stones on Waikiki Beach – and the legendary transgender spirits within them.  Long ago, four extraordinary individuals of both male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii. Beloved by the people for their gentle ways and miraculous cures, they imbued four giant boulders with their powers.  The stones still stand on what is now Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden – until now. Narrated in an ancient Hawaiian dialect, Kapaemahu brings this powerful legend back to life in vivid animation, seen through the eyes of a curious child.



Director: Cassie Shao

Country: US, Running Time: 1:47 min

A man waits for a continuously delayed train.



Director: Carrie Hawks

Country: US, Running Time: 1:06 min

Speculating about the birth of Rock and Roll and the best curl pattern. This film explores Black queer identity and self acceptance as a pathway to personal utopia. ORIGIN OF HAIR culls from Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s legacy as a Black queer woman in the 50s and 60s claiming power through musical invention and radical self-love.



Director: Tyler Baum

Country: US, Running Time: 13:11 min

A 13-Minute, 8-Song Animated Odyssey



Directors: C. Lily Ericsson, Cheri Gaulke, Samara Hutman, Liran Kapel

Country: US, Running Time: 4:44 min

When a young girl preparing for her Bat Mitzvah, the Jewish coming-of-age ritual, befriends a Holocaust survivor elder both lives are changed forever as they journey from darkness to healing through the power of art.  Adapted from the short story, Trudie’s Goose, by Maya Savin Miller. Based on the life and art of Holocaust survivor Trudie Strobel. Produced by artist mentors in The Righteous Conversations Project, a collaboration of Holocaust survivors and teens.


Witches Butter Shorts


Director: Tuixén Benet

Country: Spain, Running Time: 40 min

Aloma and Mila are two women who meet under the fantastic lights of fake summer cities on the coast of Valencia, Spain. Mila is in search of a place to belong and finds Aloma instead. Instantly feeling drawn to each other, they will use this new friendship that builds on laughter and complicity, to cope with the loneliness and strangeness of the full-time void entertainment environment they’re located in.



Director: Danielle Deadwyler

Country: US, Running Time: 12:48 min

With filmmaking and performance as primary media, Danielle Deadwyler blurs the line on labor of the black body. Through experimental and theatrical exhibition structures, she especially bolsters the black female body’s work and its range: public/private, domestic/sexual, individual and with community, in documentary and fictive narratives.

About Cucalorus:

Cucalorus is a community building organization that connects visionary leaders in film, performance and technology. We support the creation of new work and the development of new ideas through festivals, residencies, funding and education. The 26th annual Cucalorus Festival takes place November 11-25, 2020 in historic downtown Wilmington, NC and online. Cucalorus is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that relies on funds from individuals, businesses, and grants to fund its annual celebration. For more information on Cucalorus visit

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