UNCG Dept of Media Studies News

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Cucalorus 2012 features strong UNCG presence

The 2012 Cucalorus Film Festival, which runs Nov. 8-11 in Wilmington, NC, will feature a strong UNCG presence. Third-year MFA student Mariah Dunn will screen her short film, “Weekend Groove,” MFA alumnus Rick Dillwood will screen his documentary feature,  Between Friends and Family and MFA professor Brett Ingram will screen his short film, “Armor of God,” which he co-directed with Durham filmmaker Jim Haverkamp. In addition, UNCG MFA alumnus Kenneth Price will screen his short film, “Halo, the Dark Knight.”  

This year represents Dillwood’s first Cucalorus experience, Dunn’s second Cucalorus experience and Ingram’s fifth time screening at Cucalorus, the longest running independent film festival in the southeastern U.S. Ingram said it’s only fitting that UNCG is making an impressive showing at Cucalorus 2012. 

“Cucalorus was actually founded by UNCG alumni who were undergrads in our department when I was an MFA student,” Ingram said. “They were in their mid-20s I think when they started the festival and it’s stayed true to its roots. It’s gotten large, but it still feels homegrown.”

Dunn said the unparalleled support Cucalorus enjoys is what impressed her most at last year’s festival.  

“I felt like the whole city was excited about the festival,” Dunn said. “Cucalorus has a very welcoming feel and I really enjoyed that.” 

Dunn said her vision in creating “Weekend Groove” was to give the viewer a sense of immediacy and a “you are there” feeling. Dunn spent a weekend with the band, Perpetual Groove, during their tour last winter. The documentary offers the viewer a sneak peek behind the scenes of a touring band. The film is part concert and part intimate visits to band members’ homes in Athens, GA.  

Dillwood said he’s looking forward to screening Between Friends and Family at Cucalorus 2012. The genesis of the film goes back four years to the moment Dillwood’s neighbors, Mel and Carey, asked him to be a donor for both of their pregnancies. He agreed and began documenting their evolving relationship, a project that became a very personal documentary that explores the boundaries and gray areas of relationships.  

“I suppose it’s possible to buy a camera, find an interesting subject, and make a film, but grad school taught me how to make informed, intentional choices,” Dillwood said. “It was a place where I could try things out and make mistakes, and having the opportunity to experiment is what brought me to personal filmmaking.” 

Dillwood screened the film last year at Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco. He said he’s learned a lot about the film festival submission process over the past 12 months. 

“It’s still mostly a waiting game,” he said. “You have to be willing to spend some money on submissions, accept that a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean your film is terrible, and make the best of each screening opportunity. You never know who might be watching.” 

Ingram said he’s always been impressed by how Cucalorus rolls out the red carpet for filmmakers. His film, “Armor of God,” is a 13-minute portrait of Scotty Irving, a self-described improvisational noise sculptor and born again Christian performance artist who calls his one man act, The Clang Quartet. The “quartet” is actually Scotty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  

“I met Scotty when I directed a music video for the Greensboro band, Geezer Lake, in the mid-90s,” Ingram said. “Scotty was the drummer. A few years later, I saw Scotty do a Clang Quartet show. I was dumbfounded. You really have to see it to believe it. What I quickly noticed was that audiences at the rock clubs where he performed took the religious component of his act for pure camp.”  

“At the same time, Scotty’s church wouldn’t let him perform there because his sound is like instrumental Metallica squeezed though a broken blender,” Ingram continued. “So, the upshot is that his whole message, which was completely sincere, was falling through the cracks. No one got it. ‘Armor of God,’ which I co-directed with [Haverkamp], was an attempt to mediate Scotty’s art and message to the rest of the world.” 

Ingram said he’s proud of his UNCG roots and wouldn’t trade his MFA experience for the world. 

“When I was an MFA student at UNCG, the program was small and we had almost no professional grade equipment,” he said. “But the faculty were great and the student cohort was strong and mutually supportive. It was a great atmosphere of interesting students who were experimenting with all forms and genres of filmmaking.” 

“We had a few beat up Super 8, 16mm, and analog video cameras and that was about it,” Ingram continued. “But, I’m a firm believer that technical limitations are catalysts for creative growth. There wasn’t a lot of conformity. Everyone was doing their own thing. The program appealed to me because it offered so much freedom to explore. I took advantage of that opportunity and made animated films, documentaries, narratives, and even one video installation during those three years. Combined with a formal education in cinema history and theory, those experiences were formative in my development as a filmmaker.” 

Dunn echoed Ingram’s sentiments. 

“Over the past two years in the MFA program, I have been challenged and pushed myself to try new things,” she said. “While I may not have enjoyed the challenge at the time, I look back and am thankful for the experience. I feel that the past two years have allowed me to really discover what interests me and has given me a basis to defend my work and to be proud of it.” 

Dunn said her fondest film festivals memories center on networking with other artists. Dunn said she encourages emerging filmmakers to take that leap of faith and submit their work to as many film festivals as possible. The reward is in the act of sharing your vision with the world, she said. 

“I’ve made lifelong friends by spending a weekend with like-minded people and sharing our work with each other,” she said. “Most of them are virtually unknown filmmakers who do it for the love of the work. To me, that’s what really matters — making friends and staying true to your own ideas.”

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Written by uncgmst

November 1, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Posted in News & Events

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