In the past, I've always enjoyed having my films shown at the Cucalorus Film Festival. They've always been fun to talk to and communicate with. So when they invited me to visit the festival in Wilmington, North Carolina, I thought it would be a fun weekend. In fact, they promised me a "wild weekend" of sorts.
The problems began when I was picked up at the airport. The driver handed me a program, and then dumped me at the hotel, with no explanation or guidance. OK, I figured there must be a welcome bag or orientation packet in my hotel room...
No, nothing. What to do now? No one called about what I should do. OK, maybe I'll run into someone on the street. (It's a small but historic town on the Cape Fear River.) Fortunately, I found someone with a badge, and he directed me to the check-in area. But once I checked in, I was again met with indifference.
Maybe I'm spoiled, but usually when I attend a film festival, people are happy to see me and get very excited. Here, it was like I was a bum off the street. Where's the famous Southern hospitality? There was no orientation or welcome. Only later, by accident, did I find the filmmakers' lounge. It was like they were trying to keep it a secret from me.
And then when my screening came up, they weren't sure whether they wanted to introduce me. What?! They flew me there, put me up in a hotel, and then didn't want me to talk to the audience? That's crazy! Finally, they relented and let me appear on stage.
I point all this out not to criticize Cucalorus, but as more of a "what not to do" if you're running a film festival. The films and the filmmakers are the reasons that people come to a festival. So it really behooves the organizers to show some hospitality to the visiting guests.
I just hope my bad experiences at Cucalorus were unique to me. Unfortunately I have to give this year's Cucalorus a C-.
The U.S.S. North Carolina, on the Cape Fear river,
right across from my hotel