Dan's Picks II:
Just to keep things interesting, I'm going to start with Thursday, picking and stabbing around at the schedule for the hidden gems. If you haven't already, rip that schedule out the middle of the Cuc 13 mag and get your pens out...

So it's pretty easy for me here - the Blue Velvet tour is one of the few things at the festival that I haven't already seen. Francine DeCoursey leads this location tour and anecdotal journey through Wilmington aboard the Wilmington Trolley. Meet at Thalian at 9am and grab breakfast at the festival cafe before getting on board for the first ever Cucalorus Blue Velvet Tour.

So now it's getting tough. The choices are spread pretty wide across the board as the middle of the day hits. EVERYTHING'S COOL is a winner for the earth conscious and IRA AND ABBY is a rock-solid, mainstream love story - either one is win, win.

I'll probably have to hit around a few of the meaty shorts blocks in the afternoon. Veal shorts has some amazing, experimental work, including another installment from video surveillance fiend Bill Noland. The Flank Shorts on the main stage deliver with some crowd-pleasing, 35mm shorts. And the Prime Cut shorts prove that the short-subject documentary genre is alive and well. I think I'll pop back-and-forth between these screenings, hopefully dodging around that whole 'paper ticket' thing. Yikes!

For anyone whose not into the shorts thing - KOMMA is an outstanding, atmospheric film with one kick-ass performance-art scene that makes the whole film worthwhile. And it's screening at Lumina Theater, where the 35mm print will look oh, so sweet.

So now it gets ridiculous. I couldn't possibly pick a clear path this night. I'm guessing that Wilmington's caught on that Erica Dunton is the hottest thing going, so her film REDMEANSGO will be sold out and packed to the rafters. (But don't miss her party later....) Wrightsville Beach will have descended on Lumina to catch Patrick Trefz's unconventional surf doc THREAD - and to catch up with surfer, photographer and doc subject Michael Halsband, who will be in town from NYC. I think I'll find a comfy seat at 6pm, a little before the madness begins, to watch SOLDIERS OF CONSCIENCE - a non-preachy doc that really touches deep in its investigation of conscientous objectors. Director Gary Weimberg will be in attendance. I can't wait to find out what he had to do to get "official permission" from the US Army. Scary.

I'll be too tired to do much at this point. Dropping down at the festival cafe for some food and maybe grabbing the last free Tuaca Sample in the Moving Arts Expo sounds like a good idea. I'll have to watch from the mezzanine lobby as the crowds pile in to see THE MEMORY THIEF and MONSTER CAMP. Both the filmmakers will be on hand for these screenings.

Erica Dunton's clever film turns into an even more clever party at the Cellar on Thursday night at 9pm - immediately following the screening of RedMeansGo. So here's the deal:
it is a traffic light party with the following dress code:
red - if you have a partner
green - if you want one
and yellow if you're not sure!

I'll end the night resting at Jengo's Playground and chatting with host Joel Fernando, who will certainly have something up his sleeve to keep me going all night long. And then, Captain Dan vanishes into the night. See you on the morrow.

Oh yeah!
Five Filmmakers who rokk on Thursday:
Erica Dunton - REDMEANSGO
Madi Piller - TORO BRAVO
Cullen Hoback - MONSTER CAMP
Jacob Hatley - CHINA
Dan's Picks.
Over the next few days, I'll be posting my daily picks for the festival. Just a little rundown on where I'll be during Cucalorus and a special nod to my favorite filmmakers. I'll also be highlighting a few of the over 90 artists who will be in attendance.

To kick off my picks, I want to announce a couple of great things happening throughout the festival:

Moving Arts Expo
Our hands-on, head heavy look behind the scenes of the artform. The Expo has a full schedule of workshops and panels, several hours of face time with industry business leaders and a Tuaca sampling from 6p-7p each day. Everyone should stop by the Expo to meet, greet, drink and eat. The Moving Arts Expo is located in the Thalian Ballroom.

Festival Cafe by the Balcony on Dock
The festival cafe (located adjacent to the Moving Arts Expo in the Thalian Ballroom) will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. I'll definitely be hanging out in the Moving Arts Expo to grab a quick bite to eat during the festival. It'll be like a restaurant in the middle of a tradeshow. Pretty cool, huh?

Lumina Theater
Cucalorus welcomes a new venue this year, adding UNCW's Lumina Theater at the Fisher Student Center as our fourth festival screen. Easily Wilmington's finest venue for cinema, this state of the art theater is another indication of how serious UNCW is about film. A little disclosure here - UNCW is the presenting sponsor of the festival. But our decision to use Lumina was all based on the venue itself. Lumina is an outstanding 360 seat, stadium-style cinema with a great image. The lineup for Lumina during Cucalorus is outstanding - a selection of the finest international films, some great Amercian indies and four of the best doc features in the festival. I'll definitely be hitting Lumina once each day, even if it's just to stick my head in and look at the sweet, sweet image on that big, big screen.

On the more practical side....
Cucalorus will operate a festival shuttle service for all festival attendees. The shuttle will pick up every 20 minutes at each venue, taking festgoers from Lumina to Thalian to Jengo's and back again.

Check back tomorrow for Dan's Picks II, topics to include:
• Traffic Light Party - what's that all about. Green, green, go, go.
• Jengo's Playground - trivia, video installations, random and organic.
• 5 filmmakers who rokk!

Willkommen de Cucalorus

Starting out as an intimate gathering at a riverside eatery, Cucalorus has become a world-wide convergence on film -- an intersection of spirit, art, and creativity. Keeping pace with an explosion in the arftorm, we bring together the most innovative artists of our time, many making work that would have been inconceivable thirteen years ago. In the same way that photography forced artists in the past century to break down boundaries, the digital revolution in film has forced filmmakers of all kinds to reach beyond. In doing so, they change the face of cinema.

With the multiplication of screens in our world, from phones to laptops to airplane drop-downs, cinema takes many forms. We even have screens in our pockets! WOW! Our devotion to the image is profound. The pinnacle of this image-based religion is the film festival. Each film plays its part as a sacrifice laid down at the festival altar. Cucalorus is then like a priest-fest, where the protectors of the cinematic pantheon assemble on the Cape Fear River to share their secrets.

We invite you to commune with us in the temple of cinema. Dip a nugget of reality into the pure water of god’s blood and receive nirvana through your eyes and ears. Our cinematic darkness is an escape, a spiritual cloak to shield us from the chaos of communication. Overloaded on our newfound connectivity, human consciousness is poised to explode. Our little world doesn’t get smaller and smaller, the human spirit gets larger and larger. The immense fear and uncertainty of that transformation is overwhelming. Yet, inside the temple, cloaked in darkness, we see again the world anew.

Dancing in the chaos, children are singing their way through hell. Horses run round and round, and men are like gods riding beasts. Other men, riding waves, worship the water spirits. Monkeys with guns run rampant.The money hungry bandits who own them ruin the planet with their exploding buds. And yet we smile and wink. A lonely beaten man plays horrible music alone, a small tin can for his release. And there, the Jedi lives, hidden and silent. But then, just one man stands up and says: Why? Why shoot now and question later? Why leave people to die in deserts? So this revolution begins. Peace becomes a word of power.
People question killing people.

So where does that leave us? A few of us, in a blumetal barn on Princess Street, want to change the way you see the world. At the festival this year, we will make you sing, even before the lights dim down, we’ll drag you out of your seat to join our motley chorus of chaos. We burn deep into the night, searching for the force of the universe, touching it briefly in a stream of 0s and 1s twisted through fine polished lenses in the hands of collective genius. Spinning madly, small machines convert digits into experience.
Wrapped in darkness, everything will be OK. In this experience, we believe.

- Dan Brawley