Attendance at this year’s Cucalorus 21 took a sizeable jump, up almost 12 percent from 2014, according to a news release Tuesday from the film festival organization. A total of 17,630 people attended film screenings, panel discussions, keynote speakers, workshops, parties and interactive installations.
The film lineup featured 269 selections from 27 countries, including 38 narrative features, 15 documentary features, 174 shorts, 37 music videos and 5 projects in the Works-in-Progress Lab. That total is up from last year's 241 selections on the silver screen. Cucalorus 21 also explored the possibilities of out-of-body entertainment in its virtual reality lounge.
The five most-attended events at Cucalorus, according to the release, were the world premiere of Christopher Everett’s documentary Wilmington On Fire, opening night performance Dance-a-lorus, Eshom and Ian Nelms’ Waffle Street (starring One Tree Hill’s James Lafferty), Onur Tukel’s comedy Applesauce and John Goldschmidt’s drama Dough. Wilmington on Fire and Applesauce both earned Buzz Repeat screenings on the last night of the festival.
Cucalorus Connect conference, which was woven into the five days of film-oriented programming, offered a mix of entrepreneurship-focused programs, including several “Port City Pitches” – short promotional presentations by the founders of new local ventures.
“Cucalorus took a bold leap this year,” Cucalorus executive director Dan Brawley said in the release. “We refocused our efforts on exploring the future – of entertainment and business and even the festival itself. The seeds we planted 10 and 20 years ago turned out to be humans with bright minds and bold ideas. They’ve become a family of creatives who are deeply invested in our ongoing experiment in community-building and have transformed the face of Cucalorus.”
Cucalorus did not release financial information for the festival. Those figures are typically released later than attendance data.
In a separate release, Everett announced that his film Wilmington on Fire would return for two post-Cucalorus screenings Dec. 2 at Thalian Hall.
“I felt the need to show the film again because so many people did not get to see it at Cucalorus because we sold out days before the screening,” he said in the release. “They literally had to turn away about 100 people and that’s not including people who couldn’t purchase tickets online because it was sold out."
The film chronicles the so-called Wilmington Massacre of 1898, an attack on the local African American community by an armed white mob.