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Cucalorus Awards Filmed In NC Grants To 9 Filmmakers

By Jenny Callison, posted Mar 1, 2016
Cucalorus has made the first Filmed in NC grants to independent filmmakers, according to a news release Tuesday.

The nine grant recipients — chosen from a field of 61 submissions — were announced Sunday evening at the organization’s Evening on the Red Carpet fundraising event.

The grant program, an initiative of the Cucalorus Film Foundation and the N.C. Film Office to support independent filmmakers in the state, had a total pool of $10,000 for its inaugural year, and the individual awards ranged from $500 to $2,000, according to officials. The funds came from the state film office.

“Together both organizations look to support original and singular works by diverse artists working in North Carolina,” the release stated. “The nine projects awarded range from narrative features to short animated docs ... "

One aim of the program was to encourage and recognize diversity in filmmaking – an issue at this year’s Academy Awards.

“Importantly, given the ongoing concerns regarding the lack of diversity emerging from Hollywood, the Filmed in NC Grants are supporting six female directors and three projects from African American filmmakers,” the release stated.

"This is where the shift really has to take place. We've got to cultivate diverse talent at every level in the ecosystem,” Cucalorus’ executive director Dan Brawley said in the release. “And many of these artists have projects worthy of the Academy's attention, so we won't be surprised when our grant recipients start showing up there. And they will."

Filmmakers receiving grants, according to the release, are:        
  • Erica Dunton for Untitled Love Story, a raw romantic drama;
  • Patrick Shanahan for The No Hand King, a documentary about a man’s perseverance and blind determination;
  • Monica Berra, SheRea DelSol and Gini Richards for Soul City, a story of multiracial idealism in Klan Country;
  • Nicholas Pilarski for I, Destini, an animated documentary exploring, from a child’s perspective, the effects of having a loved one incarcerated;
  • Neil Creque Williams for Pottery Class, about an African-American boy trying to heal his terminally ill mother by making a healing pottery mask;
  • Preeti Vidwans and Aby Rao for Parallel Parking, about a friendship between troubled adults that helps each overcome adversity;
  • Shannon Mackenzie and Ian McClerin for Rotatio, about a young woman who transforms her trauma into a powerful poetic performance;
  • Diana Newton for The Ties That Bind, about conflict and love within a family as it adapts to one of its own facing transgender challenges;
  • Jacqueline Olive for Always in Season, a documentary following modern day lynching and the national debate of racial tolerance.

“From the information that has been provided — including the topics that the selected recipients will be addressing — it sounds like the program had a nice variety of projects from across the state with a wide range of subject matters,” state film office director Guy Gaster said Tuesday in an email. “I am excited to see the finished results from these talented NC filmmakers.”

Two projects: Untitled Love Story and Always in Season, are being developed here in Wilmington, according to Cucalorus program coordinator Natalie Lentz. Another one, The No Hand King, is considering filming in the Wilmington area, she said Tuesday.

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