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Cucalorus celebrates successful film festival weekend

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WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) -- The 19th annual Cucalorus Film Festival, presented by PNC, wrapped on Sunday night in Wilmington, North Carolina with a raucous Karaoke Party on the deck at City Stage Theater. The 19 year-old festival screened 227 films and brought filmmakers together from 12 countries and from 61 cities scattered across the US.

Total accumulated attendance at the festival reached 14,784 - a 26% increase from 2012.

The annual festival's slate of parties and screenings expanded this year to a total of 115 - making room for new attendees. "This is a pivotal time for Cucalorus. I think this festival pushed us into a completely new place, but not too far from the organized chaos that makes the festival special. It seems like we've created some lasting value - for filmmakers and for audiences - who appreciate the irreverent and unexpected vibe at Cucalorus."

A handful of notable guests attended the festival, joined by a growing group of alums - like Norwood Cheek and Hope Dickson Leach, members of the festival's emerging Ambassador's Council. Returning to the UK on Monday morning, Leach commented, "Let November roll around quickly please - you're doing something amazing and I am blessed to be part of it."

An extended conversation on the stage at Thalian Hall with Shirley Knight and director Gary Lundgren was one of Saturday's many highlights. An early morning screening of Nate Daniel's Bound By Sea brought out more than 400 local surfers and supporters to Thalian Main. Bobcat Goldthwait made his first appearance at the festival with his found footage horror film Willow Creek, which included someone (film critic Aaron Hillis) in a bigfoot costume and resulted in a hilariously improvised introduction.

The world premier of Rebecca Kenyon's doc Something You Can Call Home sold out on Friday night. Kenyon is one of the founding members of the Cucalorus residency program and the feature length documentary was shot last fall in Wilmington leading up to the 18th annual festival. The comedy-themed Atchafalya Shorts block also sold out Thalian Black on Saturday night.

Toronto based filmmaker Ingrid Veninger's The Animal Project had its US premier at City Stage on Saturday night - briefly interrupted by paramedics who had to take a collapsed attendee to the hospital. Curious attendees packed City Stage again on Sunday afternoon for the festival's Secret Screening.

The festival's Works-in-Progress program expanded to include 13 films and an extended selection of additional events organized through a multi-agency collaboration between Cucalorus, Southern Documentary Fund, Working Films, and Alternate ROOTS. A standing-room only screening of footage from the documentary Freedom Fighters was followed by a discussion with two of the formerly incarcerated detectives in Texas whose company is the subject of the ongoing project from filmmaker and Stanford professor Jamie Meltzer. The industry had its moment too - during a 90 minute panel discussion with leaders from the film community about tax incentives and the future of film in North Carolina sponsored by Entertainment Partners. The panel is available for viewing on the Variety Magazine website.

The festival's schedule also featured an expanded offering of parties - starting with the opening night event at Wilmington's top address - the Bellamy Mansion. A handful of local businesses stepped up to stage after parties for select films from the schedule - including a sweaty dance party at the swank new headquarters for downtown's Blueberry Creative, co-hosted by Planet Logo.

The 20th annual Cucalorus Film Festival will be held from November 12 to 16, 2014. The organization's upcoming Oscar party takes place on Sunday, March 2, 2014. For further details on Cucalorus events, visit www.cucalorus.org.

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