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Cucalorus Celebrates the Oscars: First fund-raiser for local film fest ramps up March 2nd

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The Oscars take place March 2nd in Hollywood, and Wilmington’s own Cucalorus Film Festival will be celebrating the crème de la crème of filmmaking in style. As part of Cucalorus’ annual fund-raising efforts to continue bringing edgy independent films to Wilmington every November (next festival is November 12th through 16th), their annual “Evening on the Red Carpet,” held at Screen Gems Studios, pairs creative flair with local panache while celebrating the Academy Awards.



The 2014 party will continue allowing participants to clock in their own predictions. For $20 a ballot, folks can choose who they think will win in a multitude of categories, from Best Film of 2013 to Best Actor, Supporting Actress and more. The person with the most correct predictions will win the pot at the end of the night, with half of the proceeds benefitting Cucalorus.


“My big wish is that ‘The Act of Killing’ will win Best Documentary,” Cucalorus’ director, Dan Brawley, admits. “It’s one of those films you just can’t look away from, and you just can’t quite believe what is happening on the screen. I’m still haunted a wee bit by what happens in that film, and I really think they deserve recognition for achieving something so singularly confounding.”


Cucalorus screened the documentary at its 2013 festival. As well, it screened the animated short, “Feral,” which also is up for the Oscar.Out of the features, Brawley says “Dallas Buyers Club” tops his personal favorite. “Partly because our old friend, Tracy Kilpatrick, had a hand in the casting, but its a long shot,” he notes. Between “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity,” the real showdown lies in which of the two will take home the Oscar. The films tied at the Producers Guild Awards.


“I think some critics feel like ‘American Hustle’ also has a good chance,” Brawley explains. “All that said, ‘Short Term 12’ was the best film of the year. I was bummed Brie Larson didn’t get a nomination. Cucalorus has big lovebombs for Brie Larson!”


This year Cucalorus will screen the Oscars across three platforms, which all will be closed caption so folks can read up on all the action. “People sometimes have a hard time catching all the funnies and whatnot when the party’s roaring along,” Brawley says. “And we’ll have a few other tricks to roll out.”


The annual auction, coordinated by Cathy Meriam, will feature bigger and better items, including helicopter rides. Cucalorus will introduce its new board members, too. “And we’re going to lock up the mayor on the set of ‘Sleepy Hollow,’” Brawley teases. “OK, we do have helicopter rides—the mayor thing, well, we’ll just have to see.”


Part of Cucalorus’ Oscar fun is the main appeal of the red carpet. Folks flock to the event in creative and even black-tie attire to show off their fashionable best. Winners of Best Dressed receive Cucalorus Pegasorus passes, which allow all-access to the November festival.


“People have fun getting dressed up and then having their picture-faces made,” Brawley says. “It’s like Facebook gold, right? I’m working on some new red carpet moves myself, but I’m a little clumsy so it could be a minor disaster but, again, only in the best ways.”


People usually begin hitting the red carpet around 7 p.m. and the party officially gets underway at 7:30 p.m. Food will be available from Angie’s Catering, and superior cocktails will be served from mixologist craftsmen Ian Murray and Joel Finsel of Manna, along with Jason Sargis from 9 Bakery and Lounge. The cocktails will represent some of the Oscar category nominees.


“My fave is the Trey Herring Carolina Bourbon-based recipe for ‘12 Years a Slave,’ which includes three dashes of bitterness,” Brawley says.


John Gray, of local production studio Parallelogram, will be doing comedy in between commercial breaks, too. “[It] makes me a little nervous,” Brawley quips, “but in all the good ways.”


All monies raised for the event present a boost to the start-up capital that Cucalorus needs to help finance their first round of staff. The revenue generated from the fund-raiser only provides roughly 10 percent of their total budget.


“We have big shoes to fill as we stage our 20th anniversary celebration in November,” Brawley notes. “We have a very diverse collection of revenue, from ticket sales to sponsorships and grants. But [the Oscar party] is what gets it all started.”


Cucalorus remains one of the largest festivals in Wilmington and distributes roughly 14,000 tickets during the five-day event annually. Their estimated economic impact equals about $5.5 million in our film-friendly town. More so, it brings in out-of-town participants, as well as filmmakers who can find more than one reason to enjoy our beaches, historic downtown and local offerings.


Cucalorus has been noted “One of the Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine in 2013. It continues to host screenings and programs in dance, music, social justice and forums for emerging artists who want to show their works-in-progress.


Tickets to the Oscar party are $100 for individuals and $180 for couples. Corporate tables also are available. Purchasers will not receive tickets but will check in on the guest list upon arrival.



An Evening on the Red Carpet

Fund-raiser for Cucalorus

March 2nd, 2014

Screen Gems Studio • 1223 N 23rd St.

Tickets: $100-$180

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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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