It's no secret that North Carolina has enjoyed an unusually high-profile year in the world of film and television production. The Hunger Games, shot in Burke County, was a huge hit last spring, while FX's Homeland, which is shot in Charlotte, landed some big Emmys this fall. Meanwhile, the Wilmington-shot Revolution debuted on NBC to strong ratings and was renewed for a new season. The state film industry employs many of the folks who run the Cucalorus Film Festival, now in its second decade of being a defiantly non-competitive and minimally commercial enterprise. As always, the festival is a pleasantly anticipated destination for Triangle filmmakers, and this year looks to be an especially strong one for area representation.
Durham's Cynthia Hill, filmmaker and co-founder of the Southern Documentary Fund, returns to theaters in support of her newest project, Private Violence. Although being presented as a work-in-progress, indications are that this film, about domestic violence against women, is nearing completion. She'll be showing the film Friday at 4:15 p.m., at Jengo's Playhouse.
Exactly 24 hours later in the same room, Jim Haverkamp, also a Durham stalwart, enjoys a career retrospective screening of his shorts from the last 15 years, including one of his most recent efforts, "When Walt Whitman Was a Little Girl." Haverkamp also organized a filmmaking contest that has already begun; the results will be screened at City Stages on closing night. The contest, the Strange Beauty Challenge, is named for the festival Haverkamp and his wife, Joyce Ventimiglia, produce annually at Durham's Manbites Dog Theater. (The entry deadline for the festival, which will be held Jan. 24–26, 2013, is Nov. 15. Visit strangebeauty.org.)
Other local filmmakers showing work at Cucalorus include Rodrigo Dorfman with Monsieur Contraste (Thalian Black, Friday, 1:30 p.m.), his study of Durham photographer Jean-Christian Rostagni; Shambhavi Kaul with 21 Chitrakoot, an experiment short (Jengo's, Friday, 1:45 p.m.); Josh Gibson with Light Plate, another experimental short (Jengo's, Friday, 1:45 p.m.); and Rex Miller, who will show a new cut of Althea, his work-in-progress about the tennis star Gibson (Jengo's, Saturday, 7:45 p.m.).
Indy Week will have a connection to a project at Cucalorus, too: staff photographer D.L. Anderson and former Indy Week video intern Brooke Darrah Shuman are co-producing The Farmer Veteran Project, about a soldier disabled from combat injuries who tries to piece his life together through farming. The project, directed by Alix Blair, is also receiving significant contributions from Indy Week photographer Jeremy M. Lange. The film gets a work-in-progress screening Friday at 10:45 a.m., in Jengo's Playhouse. Visit vittles.us.
Cucalorus isn't all about Triangle filmmakers and their films, of course. As usual, the festival has landed several highly finished and well-lauded films. One of this year's big gets is Holy Motors, a rare film from the polarizing French director Leos Carax. Elsewhere during the weekend, there are panels, parties and networking opportunities. And there's Wilmington itself. Visit cucalorus.org.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Dreams and freedom."