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Wilmington (and North Carolina in general) is suffering from an existential crisis as incentives radically have been changed by our conservative leadership. Thus the future of our film industry remains in question. However, the independent film community in this town still flourishes, and provides residents and visitors alike with many opportunities to bask in the creativity of filmmakers from around the region and world. The Cape Fear Independent Film Festival is back for its 15th year to deliver a number of films, as well as educational opportunities to the Wilmington area.

LOCAL FLAIR: 2015 festival moderator Langley McArol also will screen his own film as part of the Regional Showcase on June 11. Courtesy photo.

LOCAL FLAIR: 2015 festival moderator Langley McArol also will screen his own film as part of the Regional Showcase on June 11. Courtesy photo.

This year the festival is creatively shepherded by local author and actor Langley McArol, who has delivered a diverse slate of quality films. He will lead the actor’s panel on June 13—a roundtable discussion about what it takes to be a working actor today in the Southeast. McArol, along with actors Cullen Moss, Alissa Harris, Eddie Mills, Shane Callahan, and Myke Holmes will discuss networking, auditions, self-promotion, and more.

“I feel Cape Fear Independent Film Festival’s long reputation for being about the independent filmmaker is absolutely vital to this community,” McArol says, “especially now with the recent loss of the state’s film incentives. Celebrating and promoting the independent filmmakers of the world, and a focused support for the talents and hard work of Wilmington’s local creative forces, is what seems to drive the spirit behind the festival.”

Festival events will take place at Browncoat Pub and Theater, Hannah Block USO/Community Arts Center, and TheatreNOW, which will host the closing event, he Wilmington Film Awards (tickets include a buffet). More venues have been brought in this year across downtown Wilmington. The Cape Fear Museum will screen the 1947 flick “Pitch a Boogie a Woogie” on Friday, June 12 (tickets, $7-$9).

“It’s a musical made in Greenville, North Carolina, with an African-American cast,” festival chair Rich Gehron says. “It was shown exclusively in black theaters in the South.”

Eastern Carolina University professor Alex Albright, who researched the film’s history, will be on hand to speak about the film and its historical significance. Gehron adds, “As we move forward with the establishment of the Wilmington Film Museum, I see us doing more of these types of events.”

Hell’s Kitchen will host a filmmaker’s lounge for 2015, too. “This year’s festival is as much about the past as it is the future,” Gehron says. “The fact that Hell’s Kitchen began as a set for ‘Dawson’s Creek’ is not a coincidence.”

The festival has evolved into something more than just a screening opportunity for independent films. This year it has taken a major step toward achieving a permanent place in the community. Gehron talks about plans for the Wilmington Film Museum.

“Since last year’s festival, we have been collaborating with Jeff Goodwin (special effects makeup artist, “Under The Dome”), the Star News and several others to create a film museum in Wilmington,” he notes. “Our first step toward that effort will be an exhibit in the Hannah Block USO/Community Arts Center, which will run June to September.”

Exhibits will include the evolution of the industry on our scene from 1905 to 1983, including the impact of Dino De Laurentiis’ move to the eastern US. It will feature artifiacts, photos, stories, and such, as written about in Reel Carolina, the magazine which covered the industry for years. Gehron is focused on the future of the festival and the museum as a whole. He wants to see it expand into something more than a few days of film.

“With the museum initiative and expansion of our educational programs, I can see the festival adapting to become more integrated into the network environment,” Gehron says. “Perhaps, it will become less concentrated and instead of cramming everything into a single weekend, we will see events spread out over an entire month, or maybe even a season.”

This year’s festival features a number of regional premieres and a wide variety of cinematic subjects. Once again, the festival has blocked out time for faith-based and family films, as well as a popular horror block featuring some blood-curdling entries.

Here are some highlighted films from this year’s festival.

Browncoat Pub and Theatre
Thursday, June 11, 7 p.m.

Cape Fear Independent Film Festival prides itself on its local flair. Kicking off the event will be the Regional Showcase, which features six short films from Wilmington and nearby towns. Its purpose:
“to prove that filmmaking is alive and well in the Tar Heel state.”

Showing will be “The Heartbeat of Sunset Beach,” “Bridge the Gap,” “House Arrest” (written by 2015 CFIFF moderator Langley McArol) “Bragg N East,” “Truth Bubbles,” and “Swoon” (see review for the latter on page 23).

Browncoat Pub and Theatre
Friday, June 12th, 9 p.m.; 99 min.
Directed by John Klein

Set decades after a bio-terrorist attack unleashes a virus upon the world, transforming much of humanity into vicious creatures and laying waste to civilization, “Chrysalis” follows Josh and Penelope. They’re two survivors who have banded together in the hope of rescuing others and rebuilding civilization.

Browncoat Pub and Theatre
Saturday, June 13th, 10 p.m.; 104 min.
Directed by Michael Peterson

A giant alien mosquito is drawn to earth due to rising CO2 levels in search of blood. Del, a government agent, loses loved ones to the creature and is on a personal vendetta, while scientist Dr. Kempler is captivated by it and attempts to help the creature cleanse the earth. The scientist’s beautiful lab assistant, Brittany, is caught in the middle. A hilarious throwback to the creature feature movies of the pre-slasher era, “Insectula” is an homage to atomic-age monster movies with a gallons of the icky stuff modern horror fans have come to expect.

*North Carolina Production
Browncoat Pub and Theatre
Saturday June 13th, 5:30 p.m.;
Directed by Patrick Shanahan

Duke returns home from war to find his younger brother, Wyatt, crippled by prescription meds he’s been force fed. Duke takes Wyatt away from their childhood home, and they set out in Duke’s ’57 Chevy on a cross country tear from North Carolina to California in search of a the American dream—if it even still exists.

For more information, to purchase tickets, and for a full lineup of films and events, go to to

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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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