An Evening at the Oscars
February 27th, 7:30-11 p.m.
In may of 1929, the first Academy Awards took place—the Oscars. At that time, guest tickets were $5, only 270 people attended the ceremony, and the public wasn’t invited. This was the only awards presentation that escaped the media audience, though. The next year, enthusiasm about the awards was so great that a radio station decided to put on a live, one-hour broadcast of the event. Ever since, the Oscars have had an audience.
On Sunday, February 27th, millions will help celebrate the 83rd year of the Academy Awards. They will be tuning in with high anticipation to watch red-carpet interviews, see what Hollywood stars are wearing, and eagerly await each envelope’s revelation of winners. This year, instead of just lounging at home in pajamas with a bag of popcorn, Wilmingtonians will have a chance to dress to the nines and take part in the festivities on a local level. Thanks to Wilmington’s very own film darling at the Cucalorus Film Foundation, the second annual “Evening at the Oscars” will be held at the Hilton Riverside Wilmington.
Bo Webb, a camera operator by day, currently working on the “Cinderella Story,” which is filming locally, is a former board member and head chair of the foundation. He is also one of Cucalorus’ founding members and continues emceeing the festival’s screenings annually. When he’s not working the camera, he’s assisting in pulling together fund-raisers for Cucalorus and keeping it in the proverbial spotlight.
“We’ll be showing the Academy Awards on big screens to celebrate the Oscars in style,” Webb says. The evening will be catered by the fine American cuisine of manna, and there will be an open bar, a curated silent auction, an Oscar pool with cash prizes and a paparazzi-packed red carpet hosted by Style Girl Jess James.
Cucalorus primarily gets funding from private donations, ticket sales, sponsors, grants and memberships. “An Evening at the Oscars” acts as a public fund-raiser that allows the community to have a direct impact on keeping the independent film fest afloat.
“Comparable film festivals have three or four times the budget we do,” Webb notes, “so we can’t actually afford to have more fund-raisers per year.”
Mostly operated by a tiny staff, the festival depends on the generosity of arts supporters to maintain its dedication toward hosting one of Wilmington’s most revered events each November. “The money we raise at the Oscars will first and foremost pay our staff, which will in turn make this year’s festival actually happen,” Webb assures.
To put it best, this film foundation makes a lot happen with very little. They have an international reputation and make top-ten lists on a regular basis, showcasing not just their contributions to film but highlighting Wilmington as well. It’s also regarded as one of the coolest things about Wilmington and our film community.
Though not advertised as a black-tie event, tuxedos do make an appearance, and people are encouraged to dress as if they were accepting one of the Oscars themselves. “It’s a chance to get gussied up and have some fun, or go crazy if that’s your thing,” Webb says. “We get some wacky outfits for sure—very Cucalorus!”
“Evening at the Oscars” is open to anyone, but tickets are limited. They cost $125 and can be purchased at the Cucalorus website, www.cucalorus.org, or at Jengo’s Playhouse, 815 Princess Street. Tables of eight are available, as well, for friends or coworkers. Cucalorus will put a logo on the program, as well as on the screens during commercial breaks, for those who purchase the tables.
“If you’ve never watched the Oscars on big screens with a dressed-up, enthusiastic crowd, enjoying excellent food and an open bar, this might just be the party for you,” Webb says. “It’s a fun night out and a great way to support Cucalorus.”
The Oscars air February 27th, and the Cucalorus party takes place from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The Cucalorus Film Festival is slated for November 10th through 13th.