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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Cucalorus to open 29th festival with lauded local film

Honey Head Films’ “A Song for Imogene” will kick off the Cucalorus Film Festival on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Thalian Hall. (Courtesy Honey Head Films)

WILMINGTON — The independent film festival that draws in tens of thousands of people annually has announced its opening night film.

Honey Head Films’ “A Song for Imogene” will kick off the Cucalorus Film Festival on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Thalian Hall. The festival takes place for five days through Nov. 19.

“Imogene” was written and directed by Erika Arlee and stars Kristi Ray; it had its world premiere at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival in Arkansas in May.

Ray and Arlee founded Honey Head Films in 2016, which provides creative space for under represented voices in film, including women.

“A Story of Imogene” follows a woman who faces financial strife, endures the unexpected death of her mother and finds out she is pregnant with her emotionally abusive boyfriend’s child. The story’s protagonist has to muster the strength and courage to change her life.

“With this film, we wanted to explore women’s issues but in a landscape and region that is often overlooked in traditional cinema,” the Honey Head team released in a joint statement. “As native North Carolinians, oftentimes, we see our region portrayed in-authentically in cinema with actors performing nothing more than a caricature of what the rest of the world thinks is ‘Southern.’”

In addition to “Imogene,” Cucalorus has announced a handful of other films to be showcased in 2023.

“Black Barbie: A Documentary” — a Cucalorus works-in-progress from 2019 — comes from filmmaker Lagueria Davis. She takes on Matel’s most popular girl’s toy and dissects its meaning from the point-of-view of her aunt and a 45-year Mattel employee, Beulah Mae Mitchell. The documentary tackles the notion that inclusivity is a corporate tenet used mainly to generate profits.

A SXSW 2023’s standout, Kit Zuaha wrote, direct and starred in “This Closeness.” It captures sexual angst building between young couple and their “awkward rental host,” as they visit Philadelphia for a high school reunion.  

“Playland: A Queer Fantasia” — which premiered at Rotterdam and Tribeca — also will be screened. From Georden West, it” resurrects ghosts of Boston’s oldest and most notorious gay hangout,” utilizing archival footage and vignettes.

Also returning to Cucalorus this year will be Thursday’s choreography-meets-cinematography showcase, Dance-a-lorus. It blends film with dance, and highlights expansive talent of multiple creatives across multiple genres of art.

Currently, Cucalorus’ all-inclusive Pegasorus pass is discounted for early-bird buyers, but only through August 27, 2023. More information can be found here about Cucalorus 29.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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