"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 29th annual Cucalorus Festival takes place November 15-19, 2023 in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. The non-competitive festival showcases more than 120 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, 2022), 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 29th 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 June 2022 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 recipe for the perfect funeral. Your funeral, our funeral?!! 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
  • David Baeumler

    I've been going to Cucalorus on and off since 2003 and what's been great about it in the past is still great today: fantastic programming, the opportunities to meet other filmmakers and audiences, great hospitality and a wonderfully weird vibe that is totally unique in the film fest world. Huge shoutout to Dan Brawley and the whole Cucalorus team for working year round on such an amazing event!

    December 2022
  • Highly recommend the one of a kind experience that is Cucalorus. Not only is it full of fun and surprises, they go out of their way to give the filmmakers involved a great experience. Communication is excellent. The events are a blast. Met lots of amazing people and saw a lot of great films. Couldn't ask for more!

    December 2022
  • Christalyn Hampton

    The Cucalorus Film Festival was quite engaging from beginning to end. Dan, Rebecca, Meghan, and the entire staff were extremely helpful and had great energy! I would recommend everyone experience Cucalorus as an audience member or a filmmaker.

    December 2022
  • Johnny Kirk

    I was honored to be part of the festival and my biggest regret of 2022 is not being able to attend. I vow to return. My filmmaker friends told me my film the Fourth got interesting audience reactions and would have been great to see and hear them.

    December 2022
  • Izzy Lee

    Hands down one of the best festivals I've ever been to, in my ten years of filmmaking. They treat you incredibly well and the maelstrom of gatherings, events, theatre, dance, and film is the most varied of any fest I've attended. If you get in, GO!!

    December 2022