Some call it a lifestyle — days lived in accord with the sea, the tide, the wind.

Other days, it feels disjointed and chaotic, with howling winds shearing the crest of each wave and along with it any hopes of catching “just one more.” Sometimes your efforts are in vain, while other days the spoils are great.

For a select few, this aquatic existence is more than a lifestyle. It’s more like a life force. Pushing and pulling. Giving and taking. A calling if you will, from an unseen place, deep and ethereal, salty and unrelenting. Lucky for us, there are those out there willing to document these unique spaces in time.

“It’s like meditation getting to see folks interact with nature,” says Dan Brawley, executive director for the Cucalorus.

What is Cucalorus you say? A Cucalorus is actually a piece of film equipment used for lighting effects. The name literally translates from the Greek word kukaloris to “dance of the shadows.” A more than appropriate title for a film festival that began in 1994 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth, from a few friends putting films together to something that is now an institution.”

The festival started with no more than a dozen films and has grown to feature hundreds of films by innovative artists from around the world.

“Twenty-five of our films have even been nominated for Academy Awards,” Brawley says with a smile.

The spectrum of films being shown is broad — and considering Brawley not only lives in a coastal town, but is also a surfer himself — it’s no shocker that Cucalorus now has a sibling: Surfalorus.

“We originally started showing surf films in Wrightsville Beach,” he says. “Then we decided it would be nice to take our show on the road.”

With the help of the Dare County Arts Council and its trove of talented folks, the Surfalorus Film Festival found its home on the Outer Banks and is now celebrating its 7th year.

The format is up to Cucalorus as their crew handles all film submissions and puts them together into one happy, cohesive and exciting event.

Each year sees more growth and new elements are added such as exhibits, vintage surfboards, themes and venues.

“Surfalorus really is something magical,” Brawley says. “We get to do what we love by curating programs and screenings and then seeing how each event unfolds.”

And as far as the future goes, the Cucalorus and Surfalorus families plan for a more natural flow.

“We think of Surfalorus like a plant,” he says. “We will continue to grow organically and locally — and maybe draw more film makers here to the Outer Banks.”

And in between? “We are hoping for good waves because there is nothing better than surfing all day and watching movies all night.”


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