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Basking in the Oscar Glow

An Evening at the Oscars
Fund-raising event for Cucalorus
Brooklyn Arts Center • 516 N. 4th St.
Tickets: $100 •

For many, the Oscars mean one thing: pajamas, couch, ice cream. Assuming this celebrity-studded, red-carpet gala is only for the nominees and Hollywood is complete bullocks! Just ask those lovely “Cucs” over at Jengo’s Playhouse.

Our own local film festival, Cucalorus, held this year from November 8th through 12th, has proven over the past three years that Academy Award nominations are as much for movie fans as anyone. They’ve held a fund-raiser the past few years to celebrate it with much crowd participation.
We interviewed the festival director, Dan Brawley, about the upcoming gala, taking place Febuary 26th, at Brooklyn Arts Center off N. Fourth Street. He gave us all the Cuc-y deets on one fabulous evening. So, stow away the Ben and Jerry’s and pull out your most creative duds—it’s time to impress.

encore: What makes the 2012 Evening at the Oscars fund-raiser so special?
Dan Brawley: We’ve had lots of fun with this event, and we’re really excited about this year’s version. I think we’re most excited about the venue. The Brooklyn Arts Center is such a great, new addition to the cultural community and such a good partner for us. We’re gonna drop a full dose of Cucalorus on it and see what happens; I’m guessing magic love bombs. And a few Oscars.

e: Anything new you’re doing this year that wasn’t done previously?
DB: Our silent auction is devoted exclusively to vacation rentals—so you can get a super cheap deal on a house at Wrightsville Beach or Bald Head, while you’re sipping cocktails and watching the Oscars. There’s so much new stuff that my brain is, like, a little fireworks show. Lots of little surprises. Mostly hush-hush until the big night.

e: Are any Cuc-y movies up for noms, as some have been in previous years? And, if so, what’s your take on them—deserving of the Academy glow of gold?
DB: We dropped into a week of deep depression when “We Need to Talk About Kevin” star Tilda Swinton didn’t get the nom for best actress.
Cucalorus didn’t get any nominations—totally outrageous right? Sundance only got one, which made us feel better somehow.

e: Who’s catering the event, and who are the hosts of the party?
DB: Angie of Chris’ Restaurant is blowing it out—she said there would be a “mountain of food.” I plan to double my body weight over the course of the evening which isn’t saying much. I only weigh about 50 pounds. “Manna” is also adding their special touch with a menu of custom crafted cocktails made with Midnight Moon. Joel Finsel is the madman behind the bar.

It looks like Jess James will be selecting a panel of judges for the red carpet; we’ll be giving an award for best dressed male and female. We’re expecting some outrageous outfittings walking down the carpet this year; I’m leaning toward a revealing little black dress. The winners get passes to this year’s festival!

WWAY and Oliver Mellan are hosting the red carpet; they’ll be armed with mics and will be quizzing everyone. And our newly elected board chair Robert Sharp will be sweet-talking the audience for a few quick moments, but mostly it will be Billy Crystal, because we’ll be watching the Oscars!

e: So, folks should expect a grand time, including a show-stopping entrance.
DB: It’s all about the entrance! We’ll have a gauntlet of red-carpet paparazzi snapping away, and WWAY anchors and Mellan asking about your most recent film or the dress you’re wearing. (The smart people just nod, smile and wink without saying a word.)

At the end of the night, we will be announcing the winner of our Oscar predictions pool. We have ballots with all of the categories, so people can choose who they think will win in each category—like an NCAA bracket. They pay $20 per ballot and the person who gets the most right wins. Last year UNCW professor Mariana Johnson took home all the cash, but Ben Steelman is always the man to beat.

e: Tell me your prediction of awards for the evening? Who do you most wanna see win and why?
DB: I’m kinda thinking “Hugo” will rake in a few statues. And Michelle Williams is ready for an Oscar, right? Her performance in “My Week With Marilyn” just blew me away; she devoted herself to that character with so much courage. I could watch her paint a fence and probably think she deserved to be president or something, though.

Christopher Plummer should win for his role in “Beginners,” which was one of my favorite films of the year. Of course, I’ll have to admit that my favorite films don’t usually get nominated—that’s what Cucalorus is for!

e: How much money does Cucalorus raise from this event annually, and how does it help with your overall goal?
DB: Ticket sales and the silent auction from this event make up about 15 percent of our operating budget. That might not seem like a lot, but it comes at a critical moment in the process. The funds from this event are the initial investment that allows us to start planning and laying the groundwork for the November festival—like seed money on the old farm place. We think its a great investment in Wilmington and downtown and the arts.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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