Dispatch from the Golden City: Edinburgh Film Festival 2011

Travel stories from Dan's trip to the 
Edinburgh International Film Festival

True evidence that the global film community is sometimes quite small, I sat next to New York-based filmmaker Jarred Alterman on my flight from Newark to Edinburgh. On my recent trip to the Maryland Film Festival, I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Jarred's film Convento at the Maryland Institute College of Art. I took it as a good sign that I had a friendly fellow traveler to help kick off my trip to the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival. Jarred's film Convento is graceful documentary about an odd family of artists who live on an old monastery in Portugal. Keep an eye out for news about Convento at Cucalorus 17 - might make the final mix - but Who? Knows!

Something about dropping down in Scotland's capital at 10am in the morning makes my heart ache. My love affair with Edinburgh began more than ten years ago when I worked in the print traffic department at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. In many ways, it was that time spent hustling prints from the Filmhouse on Lothian Road to the Cameo Picturehouse that drew me deeply into the world of film festivals. I already had a couple of years under my belt working with Cucalorus, but it was the combination of international exchange and Scottish hospitality that really locked me down. So my annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh becomes more and more of a homecoming as my friendships and memories there grow deeper.

Just like a lot of festivals around the world, the Edinburgh Film Festival is facing major budget challenges. So it's no surprise that festival leaders were looking for change in 2011. With the departure of Artistic Director Hannah McGill last year, the festival apparently went looking for business skill over artistic experience in order to give new life to the festival's budget. The result - still a work in progress - was a hot topic at the Filmhouse bar and in the Scottish media. Some friends of mine even circulated an open letter to the media, seeking signatures on a letter urging the festival to hire an artistic director to insure the continued integrity of the longest continually running film festival in the world.

I was more interested in watching films than chatting about the inner workings of the festival staff and leadership, so I settled into one of the big red velvet chairs at the Cameo to watch Dominic Allan's CALVET -  a touching documentary about French artist Jean Marc Calvet and his journey to make peace with his past. Jean Luc was once a struggling drug addict and night life junkie who finds peace through painting. The film follows Calvet for several years as he recounts his wild and selfish downfall. The filmmaker gets deeply involved in Jean Luc's personal life and clearly has an impact on the choices that lead him to confronting some of the loose ends of his life. CALVET is an epic tale - just as profoundly large and moving as Jean Luc's canvases.

The opening night film "The Guard" starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle was well-attended but certainly not sold out. None of the stars from the film were in attendance either - both of these facts were pointed out repeatedly by the Scottish media - who seemed intent on criticising the work of new director James Mulligan. I was a little more forgiving - the red carpet spectacle is not one of my favorite things about the film industry and it was actually quite nice to see directors, editors and composers getting a little bit more of the spotlight. No red carpet is a good thing in my mind. On the other hand, the opening night film itself was a bit too campy for my taste. Inconsistent edits and some petty, unnecessary racism added to the unfortunate result - a film with serious issues that never could figure out what it wanted to be - which might have been the perfect metaphor for this year's festival.

The UK jailhouse drama Ghosted was another mediocre entry - a well constructed drama about the intensely political maneuverings inside a scottish prison. Good enough, but nothing special.

One of the best films on the schedule had already received its fair share of praise - "Our Day Will Come" (starring Vincent Cassel) was just the kind of disorienting and disturbing mind scramble that one expects from a well programmed festival. Terrific performances and a singular vision from director Romain Gavras (well known for his music videos - like M.I.A.'s 'Born Free') resulted in a nihilistic joy ride full of bizarre and unexplainable situations.

One of the reasons I travel to the Golden City every year is to see my friend Matt Hulse. Matt is undeniably one of the more inventive and challenging artists in Edinburgh or anywhere for that matter. Matt's films, like Polskie Buty CFF '03 and Follow the Master CFF '09, have screened at Cucalorus for nearly a decade now. At Cucalorus last year, Matt brought a grab bag of odd offerings, including the Audible Picture Show and the world premier of his short A Pilgrimage. Most importantly though, Matt has been busy finishing principal photography on his feature project Dummy Jim - which we hope will be ready for some kind of unveiling in the not too distant future (wink, wink - get to work Matty!). Matt's dog Tippy (the star of Follow the Master) looks like a slightly larger version of the new Jengo's pup Izzie. Matt and I are scheming and planning for a project based on his childhood band the Hippies with the vague hope to have bands cover Hippies songs for a new documentary to be partially made during Cucalorus. Again, might happen, but Who? Knows!

Matt and I took a stroll through the meadows and even visited the historic Warrender Swim Centre for a quick swim one afternoon. I attempted to drag Matty to a couple of festival screenings - especially the hilarious Aussie doc "Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure." One of many strong docs in the EIFF lineup, Matthew Bates documentary is a careful and at times subtly sophisticated recap of the cult phenomenon started by roommates Eddie Guerriero and Mitch Deprey when they started to record their relentlessly loud, arguing neighbors in San Francisco.

The majority of my trip was filled with short strolls down Lothian Road to catch screenings at the Cameo and the Filmhouse - with a few naps in the Meadows to keep my eyes well rested in between. I saw a host of strong narrative international features -- Bill Nighy perfectly cast in the political drama Page Eight, Ewan McGregor looking good falling in love in David McKenzie's Perfect Sense, Agnieszka Lukasiak's (Forgotten CFF '07) perilous refugee drama Between 2 Fires, and the Icelandic coming of age tale Jitters. A host of guest curators brought older films to the festival lineup - but without the coherent context of a retrospective or some thematic program - these selections just seemed to jam up the festival schedule and create less room for deserving contemporary artists.

Of course, the films are usually just an excuse to curl up at the Cameo with a tastie beverage and to visit my Edinburgh friends Loren Slater, Angie Jennings, David Drummond, Lucy Brown, Matt Hulse, and Tippy. Right now we're busy making future festival travel plans at Jengo's. We're dialing in our google maps to downtown Toronto for a wee journey in early September. 

The film fairy visits Cucalorus!

The film fairy traveled far and wide this weekend! 

Today's film submissions came from: 

Australia x 2
Venice, California
Ithaca, New York
Wilmington, Delaware
Los Angeles x 3
Waterloo, Iowa
Brooklyn x 2

Keep 'em coming everybody!

Cucalorus Doggie Style

Cucalorus Doggie Style is an event for families, dogs and hip cats happening at Jengo’s Playhouse, July 10th at 5pm. Resident canine, Izzie, will greet you and your best friend then take you into the backyard. There will be food and Cucalorified drinks available for humans and plenty of activities, treats and toys for our furry guests. Let your dog show off their newest tricks with new pals while you sit back and relax. Who knows, might even have a few tricks up our sleeves as well! Members get in for free. You can also purchase tickets for $8 online or for $12 at the door. Tail wagging space is limited so we encourage you to get your tickets online. See you there!

Click here to buy tickets online
Click here to become a member
Click here to RSVP to facebook event

Local Focus: Meg Lansaw

About Meg Lansaw
Meg Lansaw is a native West Virginian, Ohio State alumnus, vegetarian and filmmaker residing in Wilmington, North Carolina where she owns and operates Kissin’ Cousins Productions.
Lansaw has written, directed and produced numerous short films including "wait..." and "80 Windows" which have screened at festivals throughout the country including Charlotte, Appalachian, Cucalorus, LunaFest and LA Shorts Fest. She also received the 2nd place Screenwriting Award at the Appalachian Film Festival in 2008 for the feature film script "11:11", which is currently in pre-production. 
In addition, she has worked as a production assistant on various projects: Eastbound and Down, Hart of Dixie, Bolden!, The Secret Life of Bees, Nights in Rodanthe, Cabin Fever 2, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution etc...
Event Details:
Screenings start at 7pm. Snacks will be served. A specialty Cucalorified drink and beer will be available as well. Members get in for free or tickets will be available online for $8 and at the door $12. The proceeds will be shared between the filmmaker and Cucalorus Film Foundation.

Click here to buy tickets online
Click here to become a member
Event Program:

The Lost Cause
A confederate soldier’s commitment to his cause takes a heavy toll on his family life.

80 Windows
Casper, a former rock star, has lost everything; his band, his girlfriend, and now his house. In one evening, four estranged friends unexpectedly reunite and are forced to confront the past.

Musical Chairs
Time Lapse commercial promoting Cucalorus 12, where a variety of films duke it out for the last seat at the festival!

Paige Turner is a reclusive writer with an overwhelming fear of the outside world. Every evening she drafts definitions to the word 'wait' repeatedly, as she envisions the brutal attack of two sisters. This psychological thriller was inspired by actual events.

How many peeps from all walks of life can fit on a bus to the Cucalorus Film Fest? There's ALWAYS another seat on the bus!

Chip & Sally
Chip loves Sally. Sally loves Chip. Chip proposes to Sally, but cannot afford to celebrate with a nice meal. They stumble upon a woman offering a coupon including complimentary Chips and Salsa. Little do they know what's for dinner...

11:11 Footage
"11:11" is a narrative ensemble piece about the interconnectivity of lives and the effects timing and decision making have on destiny. These clips include footage of the Flashbacks and Dream sequences that will be intertwined in the final cut of the film.

See you there!

Local Focus: Benedict Fancy

About Benedict Fancy

Ben is an award winning filmmaker who has relocated from England and has been teaching film studies and video production elective classes at Cape Fear Academy. He is also a Grip in the local film industry. His current film project is a feature-length documentary about the 25th Anniversary of American absurdist filmmaker David Lynch's cult classic 'Blue Velvet', which was shot in Wilmington, NC in 1985. The documentary is titled "It's a Strange World - The Filming of Blue Velvet" and is currently in production.

Event Details

Screenings start at 8pm. Snacks will be served. A specialty Cucalorified drink and beer will be available as well. Members get in for free or tickets will be available online for $8 and at the door $12. The proceeds will be shared between the filmmaker and Cucalorus Film Foundation.

Click here to buy tickets online
Click here to become a member

Event Program

Time and the Hour Run
Haunted by visions of his late wife, an Indian immigrant in rural America must confront the purpose of his life's journey or else succumb to his maddening grief.

The Calming
After an argument with his wife, a harried working-class businessman succumbs to images of himself killing his wife when he turns the clock back an hour for Daylight Savings. Insomnia accompanied by a massive thunderstorm aids his journey into the possibilities of premeditated murder.

Whittaker Bay 
7 minute montage of scenes directed by Benedict from the Wilmington filmed 'Whittaker Bay' television show that premiered in 2008.

Never Separate, You Fool!
A 3-minute short that proves the tight knit bond between a Bag of Chips and a Jar of Salsa. Whatever you do, don’t separate them!

A comedic look into the day in the life of a suffering narcoleptic. Mowing the lawn? Bad idea. Nar-Co-Lap-Sy: The ineptness of handling a narcoleptic.

This Silent House
Shot on an iPhone 3GS using the NexVio Inc. 8mm Vintage Camera App this 4-minute experimental/narrative short depicts the aftermath of a households tragedy.

Test Sequence 480
Shot using a handheld standard definition camera and a desktop projector, this 4 minute experimental short explores the landscape of fractured light in its primary additive colors, set to the sounds of The Kaplinsky Noise Generator who scored Ben’s first short film, The Calming.

Lamaze of the Dead
A zombie outbreak interrupts a couple’s first trip to Lamaze class. As the stress of being eaten alive becomes a threat, their already fractured relationship crumbles as the group of preggers runs for their lives.

It's a Strange World - The Filming of Blue Velvet
A short excerpt from Ben's current in-production feature-length documentary that celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the filming of David Lynch's cult classic 'Blue Velvet', that filmed in Wilmington, NC in the summer of 1985.

Local Focus: Hank & Jed Movie Pictures

About Hank & Jed Movie Pictures

Hank and Jed Movie Pictures was established in 2005 by Brent Triplett, Nate Panning Bryan Mahoney, Ryan Risley and 2008 joined with Sheila Brothers, Jon Etheridge and Tony Schnur. They are known for their original, clever and comical storytelling combined with action. Hank and Jed Movie Pictures will be completing 
the animated feature Toonstone Summer 2011.

Event Details

Screenings start at 7pm. Guest performance by the band After School Special. Snacks will be served. A specialty cucalorified drink and beer will be available as well. Members get in for free or tickets will be available online for $8 and at the door $12. The proceeds will be shared between the filmmaker and Cucalorus Film Foundation.

Click here to buy tickets online
Click here to Become a member
Click here to check out After School Special

Event Program

Whoopie Shu Pink
There's telepathy and then there's Whoopie Shu Ping.
Super Sam
When Super Sam’s arch enemy breaks up with him, it makes him appreciate the relationship they used to have.

Return of the Rednecks: 
A Star Wars Spoof: Darth Vader has killed every Jedi in the universe, except for two, Hank and Jed.

Kill Yourself the movie: 
Suicide rates are up, but are they really suicides.  One girl runs for her life as everyone around her dies by their own hand.

World Interrupted
Two hikers discover they can magically speak to the entire world.

Wrong Number
A heated wrong number leads to chaos.

Warped Galaxy
Doug was abducted by aliens years ago. Now they’ve come back, but their intentions have nothing to do with science.

Andy Biscuits
Andy explains what's wrong with the world, like why bamboo and penquins don't get along. And why Optimus Prime shouldn't be a leader.

Doraleous & Assoc.
This most epic and awesome thing you will ever see.

Hank and Jed Movie Pictures
A Sketch comedy pilot originally shot for CMT

See you there!


Convento is screening at The 65th annual Edinburgh International Film Festival. Director Jarred Alterman shepherds the audience to this inspirational sanctuary, leading them by the eyes. Throughout the film’s body he weaves micro-narratives: scenes that are uniquely lit, filmed, edited, and scored, fortifying each with its own personality, and providing the Zwanikkens with their own personal visual diaries. Alterman’s concern for an honest and faithful representation of this incredible place is obvious. His frames have the composition, color, and complexity of paintings, except his move. Not one fountain’s spray or one sculpture’s gaze unfelt, not one birdsong unheard. He creates an intoxicating serenity through motion, allowing the audience to meditate upon what they are seeing and hearing as it is happening.  

Watch the trailer:

C O N V E N T O / trailer from Jarred Alterman on Vimeo.

Visit their blog

Local Focus: Dylan Patterson

About Dylan Patterson

Dylan Patterson teaches creative writing, composition, and literature at Cape Fear Community College. His films include THE OTHER ROAD, a documentary about 3 single mothers living together with their 3 daughters; AMERICAN PRIMITIVE, a dark comedy about a young suburban couple who decide to "experiment" with a couple they meet on-line; and THE CHRISTMAS WAR, an experimental meditation on war and childhood.  He is currently in preproduction on ANHEDONIA,  a modern fairy tale about a CEO who offers a fortune to whoever can restore his daughter's will to live.

Event Details

Start time is 7pm. Snacks will be served and wine and beer will be available. Raffle tickets will be given with each ticket for a chance to win some Cucalorus goodies. Members get in free and tickets are available online for $8 and at the door $12. The proceeds will be shared between the filmmaker and Cucalorus Film Foundation.

Click here to purchase tickets online!
Click here to become a member and get in for free!

Event Program

Bubblegum Card: Shot in grainy B&W Super 8 circa 1994, this music video for the song "Bubble Gum Card" by Wilmington indie band Emily's Porch tells the timeless story of unrequited adolescent love and how skateboarding almost makes it all better.  

The Other Road: A documentary about three Wilmington single mothers who choose to live together with their daughters in one small house.  By joining forces, they find strength, companionship, and heal from the wounds of the past. Features the music of Rusted Root. 

The Christmas War: Fellini meets Salinger in this meditative short in which a precocious child contemplates the battles waged between men, or, at least the battle between her brother George and his best friend Oskar.   

To Whom it May Concern: Created as part of Cape Fear Community College's ARTS POETICA 3, this film is an adaptation of Wilmington poet Jada Ach's poem of the same name. The director hopes it be a lesson to every bored literature student (or instructor).       

Turn to Thin Air: In 1996, the director traveled from San Francisco to Vancouver, BC with a Super 8 camera and a bag of film. 15 years later, he edited the footage into this video that originally screened as part of Dance-a-Lorus 2010.  

Sadie's Waltz: ANHEDONIA cinematographer M. Shawn Lewallen shot this haunting story of grief and transcendence. A young woman trapped in a home destroyed by tragedy suffers her father's tyrannical abuse until a strange vision inspired by a comic book advertisement shows her an unexpected path to liberation. (Written & Directed by Edward Tyndall) 

See you there!

Summer Series

Dance with local lovelies in Jengo’s backyard
June 5th-August 6th, 2011

The Cucalorus Summer Series kicked off June 5th at Jengo's Playhouse with Austin-based band Loves It! As the duo crooned away in the backyard people played cornhole, sipped on moonshine and picked a few crispy drumsticks down to the bone. The core of Summer Series highlights Wilmington-based filmmakers who have feature films in production as Cucalorus re-introduces the “Local Focus” program. Leading off is Shannon Silva (June 18) followed by Dylan Patterson (June 23), Hank & Jed Movie Pictures (July 1), Benedict Fancy (July  16) and Meg Lansaw (July 23). A portion of the proceeds will go towards the development of the artists current projects. 

In addition to the Local Focus events, the festival will host the first ever “Cucalorus Doggie Style,” an event for families, dogs and hip cats. (No tickets needed for canines – bones will be provided – taking place on July 10.) The last portion of the summer series is dedicated to the Cucalorus Summer Film Camp (August 1-4). Budding filmmakers ages 10-14 spend one week with industry professionals working in tight knit groups to make music videos for local bands. In addition to an influx of artistry, campers will get to see their accomplishments in action at the Red Carpet Screening Party August 6th. 

The Summer Series supports local film and highlight the benefits of becoming a Cucalorus member. As a member you can get into the events for free. If you're not don’t you worry, become one at the party! Tickets can be purchased for $8 online or for $12 at the door. Live music, dog parties, backyard barbecues, Cucalorified drinks, film screenings and film camp all help Jengo’s Playhouse live up to its name this season. A complete list of the events can be found on our website. See you all there!

Local Focus: Shannon Silva

About Shannon Silva

Shannon Silva is an Assistant Professor in the UNCW Film Studies Department. As anexperimental and documentary filmmaker, her principal interests include issues of gender, fan culture, consumerism, and community-building creative initiatives.

She holds a BFA in Art from Texas State University and an MFA in Film and Video Production from the University of Iowa.

In addition to directing over 30 short films and videos, which have screened at festivals internationally, she has worked as Screenplay Competition Director for the Austin Film Festival and as Associate Producer for the 35mm feature "Monster Hunter" (Asylum Home Entertainment). Her community work includes directing the VISIONSFilm Festival and Film Scholars Conference, as well as supervising the UNCW Reel Girls Project (a joint filmmaking project between the Film Studies, Sociology and Women's Studies programs in which college girls teach middle schools girls about making their own films, assessing media with a critical eye and telling their own stories).

Currently she is in the final stages of post-production on the feature experimental documentary film, "MKA: Buy, Buy Love, Buy, Buy Happiness"(working title) which looks closely, and critically, at the evolution of the girl's tween market and therole of Dualstar (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s company)in the market's explosion.


Start time is 7pm. Snacks will be served and wine and beer will be available. Raffle tickets will be given with each ticket for a chance to win some Cucalorus goodies. Members get in free and tickets are available online for $8 and at the door $12. The proceeds will be shared between the filmmaker and Cucalorus Film Foundation.

Click here to purchase tickets online!
Click here to become a member and get in for free!


The Unbelievable Act of Totally Disappearing (2003) - 5 minutes
Using animation, hand-manipulated film techniques and original home movie footage from the day I was first brought home from the hospital, this 16mm film explores physical, temporal and emotional family distance in the age of technology.

Color Coded (2001) - 3 minutes
A southwestern, meditative, super-8 travel log.

To the Dead Girl, Thank You (2004)- 3 minutes
A direct address video letter to the filmmaker's deceased great aunt.  The video questions the importance of family resemblance, individual identity and having a sense of belonging.

29 Places I Once Called Home (2006)- 20 minutes
A 20-minute, experimental, documentary, which explores the multi-layered connections between poverty, gender, frequent relocation, substance abuse, family violence and memory instability.

And Happiness Everywhere (2004)- 7 minutes
Shot on Super 8 and 16mm film, this four-month, intimate journal considers my conflicting emotions about being a newly married, thirty-something woman trying to negotiate between being an artist, being a wife, and, potentially, becoming a mother

JumpaJumpa (2009) -4 minutes
Shot on black and white, 16mm, hand-processed film, and vibrant, color, digital video Jumpajumpa is a musical love letter to the filmmaker’s first-born child after years of dealing with infertility.

Too Bare or Too Bush (2009)- 4 minutes
There was a time when refusing to shave your legs was an act of rebellion...oh, how times have changed.  Keep an eye on the latest beauty rag and eventually you’ll see that it’s big to be completely bare “down there.” With great sincerity, many twenty-something women are claiming cleanliness/tidiness and yes, liberation, as their inspiration for shaving or waxing their pubic areas. But is this just another attempt to keep women in a childlike, youthful state? Could it be yet another damaging trend that only encourages more body disorders?

Ichthyopolis clip (2008) - 3 minutes
Ichthyopolis is a 10-minute psychedelic technomation, which delves into a mythical cosmology of fish and their human caretakers.

WIP Buy, Buy Love, Buy, Buy Happiness: MKA, Dualstar and the Girls'Tween Market Explosion clips  (2011) - 15-20 minutes

Using expert interviews, animated reenactments, historical research and found footage, this feature lengthexperimental-pop culture-documentary-collage will look closely, and critically, at Dualstar (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's company) and its role in the girls' tween consumer market explosion.

Run time: 69 minutes