UNCW CIE Connects the Art of Entrepreneurship to Local Film Festival

Monday, November 02, 2015

A longstanding area film festival is diving into the world of venture capital and entrepreneurship by partnering with the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).

In its 21st year, the Cucalorus Film Festival will showcase more than 260 indie and international films Nov. 10-15. Concurrent with the film festival, Cucalorus Connect will showcase the business side of film with panel discussions, workshops, speakers and meet-ups with entrepreneurs and technology innovators.

Cucalorus Connect was inspired by last year’s successful Coastal Connect conference hosted by the CIE. In joining forces with the Cucalorus Film Festival, which is internationally recognized for its creativity and social relevance, the CIE is furthering Wilmington’s stature as a creative marketplace for high-growth, high-impact companies.

“We are so excited to partner with Cucalorus on this conference,” said Laura Brogdon Primavera, manager of programs and operations for the CIE. “Innovating, creating and driving new business development in Wilmington is a common goal of the CIE and Cucalorus, so combining university resources with the strength of the Cucalorus brand can only expand upon the great things already going on in Wilmington.”

To Cucalorus founder and director Dan Brawley, merging Wilmington’s entrepreneurial energy with the established film festival is a natural progression. “The computer programmers, the biomedical engineers – these are the artists, the creators for the 21st century. They are discovering new solutions, new media and new perspectives for the world we live in,” he said. “Cucalorus is a natural platform to celebrate and cultivate this creative energy.”

The Cucalorus Film Festival and Connect Conference will take place at existing and pop-up venues throughout historic downtown Wilmington and locales central to Wilmington’s start-up economy.

Key Connect Conference presenters include:

-       Galen Buckwalter, founding chief science officer at eHarmony

-       Chris Heivly, a founder of MapQuest and current managing director of The Startup Factory in Durham

-       Tim Mather and Greg Avola, co-founders of Untappd

-       Dan Tynan, editor-in-chief for Yahoo Tech

-       Joan Siefert Rose, president of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development

-       Lead principals from the crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Seed&Spark

A reprise of the festival’s 10x10 Filmmaker Challenge is also planned. Ten entrepreneurs and ten filmmakers will be introduced and paired on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Throughout the festival, they’ll collaborate and produce a short film, screening the results at the Connect closing party on Sunday afternoon.

Dave Monahan, who chairs and teaches in the UNCW department of film studies, has been involved with Cucalorus since 2001. “Monkey Junction,” the first short film he made in Wilmington with the help of UNCW students and local professionals, screened at Cucalorus the following year.

Every film Monahan made since has played at the festival, including a work-in-progress screening of a still-ongoing documentary opus. He was appointed to the Cucalorus board of directors in 2011 and moderates several screenings and short film blocks every festival.

Monahan shares in the excitement about Cucalorus Connect. “This innovative program opens up even more opportunities for filmmakers, faculty and students to engage the Wilmington community and connect with their peers across the region and country,” he said.

As part of Connect, Monahan is hosting Media Marriage, a panel that will explore the creative and commercial potential of integrating motion picture media and text in online publications. Panelists include Emily Smith, UNCW senior lecturer and director of The Publishing Laboratory, and noted Southern authors John Jeremiah Sullivan and Allan Gurganus.

The 2015 Cucalorus lineup includes a number of films directed by UNCW film students, faculty and alumni. Many events will be staffed by UNCW student volunteers. Those interested in volunteering for Cucalorus Connect may sign up here.

The complete schedule of films, Connect Conference events and special programs can be found at

-- Caroline Cropp