"The deliciously offbeat, smashingly innovative, charmingly anti-competitive Cucalorus Film Festival is one keeper of the Wilmington legends, which expand each year."
- MovieMaker 2021

The 27th annual Cucalorus Festival takes place November 10-14, 2021 in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. The non-competitive festival showcases more than 90 films from all over the world and attracts filmmakers, performers and activists who come to celebrate the art-form, discover new work, and discuss the ongoing work of undoing racism. The festival's spirited celebration is a breeding ground for young artists, new ideas and future collaborations.

Festival programs focus on social justice, dance on camera, emerging voices, southern stories, horror & the bizarre, and the finest indie films of the year. Voted "One of the Coolest Film Festivals in the World" (MovieMaker Magazine 2013, 2014, 2015), and "50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" (MovieMaker Magazine 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021), Cucalorus creates an opportunity for intimate engagement between audience and artist through the festival’s retreat-like atmosphere, resulting in friendships that extend far beyond the festival’s 5-day celebration.

Cucalorus wants to see your stuff! Cucalorus seeks magical movies and outrageous videos for this fall’s 27th annual film festival and celebration. Cucalorus wants original works that showcase creativity and strive to bring both justice and joy to a core group of filmmakers, performers, and activists. Accepting fabulous features, daring documentaries, sizzling shorts, dance films, animation, experimental films, weirdly personal essays, experiments in cinema, social justice docs, first-time filmmakers, and just about anything you can fit into an MP4!

“Bold, insightful programming, a laid-back rock and roll atmosphere and gorgeous seaside locale no doubt contribute to the ‘summer camp for filmmakers’ vibe, making Cucalorus the best kept secret on the indie fest circuit.” - MovieMaker Magazine

Unlike many film festivals, Cucalorus does not give out awards! Competition is kind of sucky. Instead we give every filmmaker a cash honorarium and we host late night parties with bonfires and curious cocktails to build deep friendships and peculiar memories. Cucalorus is committed to building long-term connections for artists looking to grow their audience, cultivate creative resilience, and explore new projects.

WAIVERS: We offer waivers to filmmakers of color and to residents of New Hanover County or the City of Wilmington. We wish we didn’t have to charge a fee at all but the small entry fee pays for the labor it takes to organize entries - all the emails, titles, scores and so on. It just ends up taking a lot of time! We’re committed to providing transparency to all filmmakers about our programming process and are working on releasing a report about last year’s data in terms of fees, how many times each film was viewed by a judge, and how many films were selected vs. how many were submitted. Stay tuned. For a waiver code, email dan@cucalorus.org. Cucalorus loves you!

Cucalorus accepts films from all genres by filmmakers of all backgrounds. Films must have been completed within the past two years, and films with world premieres before November 2019 are not eligible. All films must be Wilmington, NC premieres to qualify. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact dan@cucalorus.org.

One more thing!
Send us a drawing and/or collage of the future. You're future, our future?!! Yes, we're serious. Have fun with it! You can mail this to our office at Jengo's Playhouse or email the design to dan@cucalorus.org. **disclaimer** - we may post this on social media!!

Please send all packages, checks, drawings, toys, baby goats, and photos to:

Cucalorus Submissions
Jengo's Playhouse
815 Princess Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

Overall Rating
  • Kay Barnes

    The festival was so warm, welcome, and supporting of me and my work as a creator. They were also very organized, which I loved. I would highly recommend the festival to other creators.

    January 2021
  • Stephanie Diane Ford

    One of the best regional festivals in NC. I'm so grateful for the work this festival does supporting indie and NC filmmakers. My project won the Filmed in NC award and Cucalorus has done the most to promote the project than any other festival. The virtual event this year was well programmed and executed. Looking forward to screening here again.

    December 2020
  • Dedicated, thoughtful staff & curators who foster community through filmmakers and audiences gathering together to watch film. Exceptional communication and inclusion.

    December 2020
  • Jennifer sharp

    This was online this year but you could still feel the energy and excitement from everyone involved and it still felt like a community.

    December 2020
  • Nathan Clarke

    Cucalorus was creative as they reimagined what a film festival might look like in a COVID world. They treated us with care and were great with communication. This is what a festival should be like.

    November 2020