We are excited to announce the 2019 Cucalorus Works in Progress Lab, a week long residency that supports the audience engagement and distribution strategies of social issue documentaries being made by Black filmmakers. This year’s featured films include: 

Black Barbie: A Documentary, directed by Lagueria Davis charts the rise of the most iconic girl toy brand of all time through the eyes of the filmmaker’s aunt, Beulah Mae Mitchell who spent 45 years working at Mattel. 

Commuted, directed by Nailah Jefferson tells the story of Danielle Metz, after being sentenced as a drug kingpin to triple life plus twenty years for the crimes of her husband, has her conviction commuted by President Obama in 2016, and follows her as she tries to rebuild her relationships with family while continuing to fight a system that is incarcerating women at an unprecedented rate.

Finding Elijah, directed by Yolonda Johnson-Young is told from a mother’s perspective, and follows a young man’s journey from home into mental illness, to homelessness, and ultimately to suicide. 

Mama Bears, directed by Daresha Kyi explores the many ways in which the lives of conservative, Christian mothers are utterly transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children. Spread throughout the country but connected through private Facebook groups, they help each other overcome the teachings of their churches and call themselves “mama bears” as they fight ferociously for the civil rights of their children and the entire LGBTQ community. 

The House I Never Knew, directed by Randall Dottin is a six-part documentary series that chronicles the lives of people struggling to fight against the negative effects of housing segregation policy.

The Works-in-Progress Lab (WiP) is designed and led by Working Films in partnership with the 25th annual Cucalorus Festival, taking place November 13-17 in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. The five selected filmmakers will receive extensive community feedback during a series of private and public screenings, impact strategy sessions, workshops, and one-on-one consultations with expert mentors, which this year include acclaimed filmmakers Byron Hurt and Natalie Bullock Brown. 

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