The Cucalorus Film Festival has always embraced the delightfully strange — just to set the mood, it’s based in Wilmington, North Carolina, where David Lynch shot much of Blue Velvet. And since the pandemic is keeping people away from the annual festival, now underway, it’s found a way to connect with fans online through a series of deliriously odd, one-time-only live screenings.
What are the films? You have to show up — virtually — to see. But it’s worth the risk. I watched the first on Sunday, and it was perhaps the only group-viewing experience I’ve ever had that was better online that it would have been in person.
The film presented Sunday by host and curator Aaron Hillis demanded questions, feedback, and jokes — and viewers shared them in one window while watching the secret movie in another. It was very silly and very fun, and I learned a little about the L.A. Rebellion film movement in the process.
Would you enjoy it? Find out! You can watch tonight’s film right here.
On the latest MovieMaker Interviews podcast, featuring Hillis and Cucalorus chief instigator Dan Brawley, Hillis explains that tonight’s film is “a rare and kinky thriller” with a musical intro “by the great Shirley Gnome.”
Sunday’s film, he warns, will be outright offensive. You can watch it here.
For more details, listen to the podcast on Apple or Spotify or above. Besides more details about the secret films, you’ll get to hear some Wilmington secrets, too. Brawley has stories about Blue Velvet, Dino De Laurentiis, and Stanley Kubrick.
And you’ll also find out what “cucalorus” means in the first 10 seconds.
A warning: Listening to the episode above just might start you down an internet rabbit hole, specifically about L.A. Rebellion filmmaker Jamaa Fanaka and Cannon Films. Fortunately, if you click on those links, you’ll find episodes of Dan Delgado’s The Industry podcast about exactly those subjects.
Cucalorus, one of our 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, is known for its beaches and total lack of interest in competition between filmmakers. We wrote in our latest list that it “aims to be a summer camp for moviemakers,” known for bonfires, moonshine and 3 a.m. grits — as well as imaginative curation, grants, and a beloved residency program.
The Cucalorus Film Festival runs through Monday, Nov. 23. Main image: A packed Cucalorus screening in a normal year.