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Cucalorus 18
November 8-11
Passes: $175-$300
Individual tickets: $10-$15 ea.

There is more to Cucalorus than movies. There are monsters. Parties. There are those measly finances. Volunteers. And there is Mr. Dan Brawley, head monster and Cucalorus festival director (pictured). Brawley has been leading the Cucy helm for over a decade now, ensuring the festival continues growing and reaching folks far and wide.

“It keeps me busy,” he says. “And if I wasn’t busy, I’d be dangerous. But, really, I think Cucalorus is one of those things that brings new ideas and energy into the community—through the films and the filmmakers that come. That is invaluable and it works both ways: They discover us and we discover them.”

Brawley was kind enough to answer many a burning question for encore about the 18th year of Wilmington’s darling film festival. For instance, how many burritos will be at the Visual/Sound/Walls kickoff party at Soapbox on Thursday at 10:15 p.m.? Answer: 150 of Flaming Amy’s best, available to party-goers for free, nonetheless.

Or how many dances are slated for Dance-a-lorus, another Cucalorus kickoff extravaganza on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Thalian Hall? Eight—pairing choreographers and dancers from our local Dance Cooperative with filmmakers who will screen their works during the performances for a multi-media showdown. We covered all of Cucalorus’ special events in last week’s pre-fest edition, which you can still read about online at While there, you can also download Cucalorus’ full schedule in a PDF format to carry with you on your phone throughout the five-day soirée. Or just pick up one of many Cucalorus’ eyecatchers for free, distributed all over town.

Over the next seven pages, our writers have dished about movies they had the privilege of seeing beforehand, covering everything from hilariously intelligent rom-coms to brutally gripping horror to socially relevant documentaries and more. But, first, we just had to put a few mathematical questions to Brawley to get a closer look at Cucalorus by-the-numbers.

encore (e): Since Cucalorus’ inception, how has it grown? Has it increased every year?
Dan Brawley (DB): We took a close look last year and discovered that our income has increased every year since 1994. We’re still a little leap away from being funded at levels comparable to other festivals, but the winning stat is the uncountable fans and friends we have all over the world. For a little festival like Cucalorus, we have a pretty expansive reach.

In terms of audience numbers, we’ve been pretty consistent for the last four years. We’ve expanded this year with a new venue, more dance-related events, and music videos for three days, so we’re anticipating a little jump in attendance.

e: Do you know how much money the festival brings in annually to ILM?
DB: We did a study about four years ago, which is probably a little stale. I’d say anywhere between $5 million and $43 billion. To be honest, I’m not sure about all these economic impact studies. The real value lies somewhere between economics and environment: You can’t put a price on the international community of artists that comes together each year for Cucalorus.

Downtown Wilmington is literally transformed into a marketplace for new ideas and a breeding ground for artists. I don’t think any economic model currently understands the value of creative energy and exchange. Maybe in 50 years, there will be a stock exchange for creativity and we’ll all know exactly how big our pants are.

e: How many people put on Cucalorus every year? Or at least this year?
DB: Some numbers: 12 festival staff (full, part and over-timers); 18 board members; seven Ambassadors Council (mysterious mobster-types); 25 programmers (#watchalottamovies); 97 volunteers and staff who work the week of the festival.

e: This year’s festival features how many locally shot flicks?
DB: According to my sources (shady at best), we’re screening about 43 films shot in North Carolina—give or take three because one filmmaker from Georgia didn’t know that the Carolinas had split and another filmmaker from South Carolina really lives in South Dakota but claims to live in North Carolina. Are you with the IRS?

e: How many filmmakers will be in attendance?
DB: Shoe shine! I have no idea. OK, some ideas. Last year there were 297 artists in attendance sharing their work. That includes dancers and musicians and poets and mimes. I can safely say that there will be one mime at Cucalorus. If there are others, we do hope that they’ll come forward.

e: How many movies screened—equals how much tape reel?
DB: 197 films. It’s all digital now, so that equals about 43,000 billion zeros and ones flying around in the digiverse.

e: How much moonshine do you predict will be devoured?
DB: 43 cases equals 258 bottles equals 5,160 drinks. Again, I’m guessing here.

e: How many parties thrown?
DB: Well, well! I see a trend here, Shea! When I took my first trip to Sundance back in the third millenium, the first thing everyone said, “Oh, yeah! Cucalorus is that party festival, we’ve heard all about it.” Monsters love to party. The two big ones: Pegasorus luncheon on the Battleship and our Midnite Brunch at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington. I’m thinking—right on, Wilmington!—kids and wars, we got it covered. There’s also the Filmmakers Lounge and Jengo’s Playhouse backyard, featuring never-ending parties.
[Ed. note: The luncheon, midnite brunch, lounge entry and Jengo’s parties all require festival passes; see “passes” information at]

e: Tell me about the brunch: How much eggs, bacon and ham will be served?
DB: Oh, yeah! You wanna know about the secret stuff now. Planet Logo is sponsoring this year’s brunch and it’s at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington on Saturday at midnight for passholders only. Angie of Chris Restaurant is cracking the eggs, and Syntury is doing some time-traveling musical video experiment.

e: How many bands will be playing throughout the festival?
DB: Yeah, we tried to get Katy Perry but her manager just got shingles. I’m only counting with my toes, but I think it’s about six or seven this year [during Visual/Sound/Walls and VJ’s and DJ’s BF’s 4-Ev’s.] I know we’ve got Sensual Harrasment and Soft Spot—all the bands have to have some vaguely sexual theme—that’s because we’re noncompetitive and don’t give any awards.

e: How many people are you expecting to attend in 2012?
DB: We’ve tried counting the people, but they move around a lot. Except for that guy that fell asleep in the back of Thalian Black last year—booom! His party stopped right there. So, I’m guessing that accumulated attendance (we add up all the numbers from about 93 different events) will roll in around 12,000.

e: How many monetary donations were garnered? Grant money? Private investors?
DB: We spent the last 34 years recruiting the dream development team: Jill Tefft, Robert Sharp and Beth Steelman. We’ve brought on several new national funding partners this year: PNC Bank, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of Motion Pictures. Then, we’ve had an incredible relationship over the years with the NC Arts Council. They’ve worked with us in guiding the festival through some tough years and they’ve been supporting our filmmaker program for years.

e: How many monsters will be on hand?
DB: 43. And thank you for asking. True journalism isn’t focused merely on humans. Humans think they’re so important with their thumbs and their liquid cheeses. Monsters don’t get a fair shake any more so we’re trying to give them some cred.

e: Any other numbers I should know of?
DB: 43. Cucalorus 43 will take place in 2037. Probably in November. Cucalorus 19 will take place next year: November 13th-17th, 2013.
Participating Cucalorus Venues:

City Stage Theater
21 North Front Street/ 910-342-0272

Jengo’s Playhouse
815 Princess Street / 910-343-5995
Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts
310 Chestnut Street / 910-632-2285

19 South 10th Street/ 910-399-3669

The Soapbox
255 N. Front Street / 910-251-8500

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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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