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CONVULSING CUCALORUS: Curator Aaron Hillis talks about the Convulsions block of movies at the 21st film festival

An interview with Aaron Hillis, curator of the Convulsions programming for Cucalorus 21.

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Convulsions (noun). 1. a sudden, violent, irregular movement of a limb or of the body, caused by involuntary contraction of muscles. 2. a violent social or political upheaval.

Cucalorus’ most irreverent block of films is the Convulsions block, which is curated by Aaron Hillis, who is no stranger to the world of film. It’s in his DNA. Hillis has movies in his marrow down to the molecular level. He’s written about film for a litany of respectable publications in print and online, from The Village Voice to Indiewire to Spin. He’s also the owner of Video Free Brooklyn, twice voted the best video store in New York City. Brooklyn Magazine recently named Hillis one of 100 most influential people in New York’s most influential burrough.

Cucalorus has been making use of Hillis’ programming skills for a number of years. This year he has curated the Convulsions block of the 2015 festival. We asked him to tell us about the block and his love affair with Wilmington’s favorite film based festivity.

encore (e):  How did you first become involved with Cucalorus?

Aaron Hillis (AH): My first Cucalorus was as an invited filmmaker in 2007. I co-directed the documentary feature “Fish Kill Flea” (which premiered a few months earlier at SXSW). I had such a strange dream of a time in Wilmington that I’ve been back every single year. Somewhere along the way, I began hosting and programming for the festival and now sit on the board of trustees.

e: Tell me about the Convulsions block at this year’s festival.

AH: “Convulsions” takes a walk on the dark side, offering an adults-only cinematic experience of twisted, adventurous pleasures. This year’s four selected features and curated shorts block couldn’t be more eclectic, whether it’s satanic heavy-metal horror (“The Devil’s Candy”) or a bloody Japanese schoolgirl fantasy from another dimension (“TAG”).

e: What makes the Convulsions block a destination for Wilmington film fans? What separates it from other films/blocks at the festival?

AH: Convulsions will inevitably feature the rowdiest films, crowds and introductions, with weirder thrills than the other Cucalorus blocks. Although there are plenty of films at the fest for every member of the family, Convulsions is a perverted, one-eyed leprechaun in a shiny bikini that runs in a giant hamster wheel to keep the lights on at Thalian Hall. Who knows if and when you curious misfits will get another chance to see these incredible films!

e: Which film in the block is your personal favorite and why?

AH: There’s no way I could pick just one favorite film from my block. Who is your favorite family member? (I can name my favorite family member: my cousin, Javier.) What’s your favorite joke? (I can name my favorite joke: The one with the punchline “Rectum, damn near killed him.”) Fortunately, it’s finally possible this year to see every single Convulsions screening—and if you do, you’ll get a special reward from me during the closing-night karaoke costume dance party.

For more information on the Convulsions Block, check out the website at www.cucalorus.org, ordownload the encoreGO app by texting “encore” to 77948 and access all listings on your smartphone. Anghus has reviewed three of the films from this block here

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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, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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