Cucalorus links business and artistic spheres


Cucalorus is pairing creativity and entrepreneurship this weekend as it launches its 22nd annual independent film-screening festival in downtown Wilmington in conjunction with the Cucalorus Connect business conference. The festival began Wednesday, Nov. 9 and will run through the weekend, ending Sunday, Nov. 13.

More than 250 films will vary in subject, ranging from romance, apocalyptic comedy, the 2016 election, startup companies, Jewish culture, war, being lost at sea and dance. Films will also vary in length and style with documentaries, music videos, fiction tales, feature-length films, works-in-progress and shorts.

One of Cucalorus’ Magnolia films, “Generation Startup,” tells the story of six young Americans in Detroit as they try to build their own companies, highlighting the diversity, urban revitalization and the risky nature of modern startups. This film represents Cucalorus’ pairing of film and creativity with technical and business domains as it hosts its second annual Connect conference.

The conference is presented by tekMountain and the University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Many of the speakers and participants are UNCW graduates at the undergraduate, graduate and doctorate levels.

This year, much of the conference will be devoted to startups and small businesses.

This focus began Wednesday at the Ironclad Brewery when keynote speaker, Louis Foreman of product development and licensing company Edison Nation, gave his speech, “You’ve Got a Great Idea, What’s Next.”

His speech was paired with presentations from groups who are participating in the conference’s competition, Port City Pitches, that will help a startup launch an idea to the marketplace through a cash award sponsored by the Blake and Bailey Family Fund.

This year’s pitches include communication platforms, learning applications, sustainability projects, a process for identifying fecal waste in natural waters and a DNA tagging product.

Between the film festival and Connect, this weekend will be full of films, parties, panel discussions, lectures and workshops at various locations in downtown Wilmington. Thalian Hall, Cape Fear Community College Union Station, Jengo’s Playhouse, Ironclad Brewery, Bourgie Nights and Expo 216 are all hosting events.

Cucalorus is taking place in part due to $40,000 raised prior to the festival through online fundraising.

Donations, made by 230 individuals, ranged from $10-$10,000. On the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, Cucalorus offered incentives for varying donation values including bumper stickers, tribute DVDs, posters, T-shirts, festival passes and travel packages.

“Competition for funding is fierce and this non-competitive festival is working hard to bring you another expansive cultural experience,” Cucalorus said in a statement. “We have a can-do attitude and the ability to make a lot of a little, we’re proud of our grass roots!”

Cucalorus said donations will be used to support operational costs and contributing filmmakers who are traveling internationally and across the United States.

In 2015, accumulated attendance for the festival totaled more than 17,000 people, and the nonprofit organization expects to have high attendance again this year. On the Cucalorus website, the group states that most daytime film showings will be appropriate for children, but parents are encouraged to ask staff members if they have concerns about child-friendly content.

Tickets for events, feature-length films and grouped film shorts are being sold online and at the ticket box at Thalian Hall. The public may purchase tickets individually or in bulk passes.

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