Whatever Flotilla’s Your Boat
If you’ve ever crossed the bridge to Wrightsville Beach and quizzically read the sign “Home of the North Carolina Flotilla,” you are in for a treat. Each year boats are decked out in lights to a Griswald-ian degree. Costumed captains (or stormtroopers, or Beatles, depending on the theme) accompany the vessels down the waterway for holiday cheer of the truly local, nautical variety. The floatillas compete for titles for the judges waiting at the Blockade Runner, but you can watch them from a number of places, like the Banks Channel Bridge or the west side of Waynick Boulevard. The night rounds out with fireworks display, but that doesn’t end the festivities: The boat parade is our beloved tradition, but the celebration is a weekend-long festival. Info: 33rd Annual NC flotilla boat parade, Nov. 26, 6 p.m. Admission is free, but get there early to grab a viewing spot. See all the events at http://ncholidayflotilla.org
Wilmington-filmed television series “Good Behavior,” starring Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary on “Downton Abbey”), debuts Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. on TNT. Teacakes and lady’s maids are nowhere in sight. For this role the porcelain beauty plays Letty, a Southern con artist, out on parole. Letty’s intentions to reform are challenged by a moral obligation to derail a hitman (played by Juan Diego Botto). Showrunner Chad Hodges (“Wayward Pines”) praises Wilmington: “The town miraculously doubles as several locations throughout the South. Without spoiling too much, we do bring Letty’s story to Wilmington.” The Port City was “a great place to spend our first season of misadventures,” he says, and loved living like a local in his apartment in the renovated firehouse on Fifth and Castle Streets and to “walk my dog, Fred, past some of the best restaurants in town.” (Undoubtedly a nod to Rx.) The television industry has taken a hit since the film incentive was scaled back, but you can still see your city on the small screen this fall.
All are welcome to witness the dazzling displays of the 46th Annual Waccamaw Siouan Powwow. The American Indian dance competitions are sure to stun and amaze. The two-day festival has plenty to offer in the traditional foods, crafts and horse show areas, as well. A 30-minute drive from Wilmington, the Waccamaw Siouan tribe history and culture is alive and plentiful. Info: Nov. 4–5, 9 a.m.–midnight. Admission is free. Waccamaw Siouan Tribal Grounds, 7239 Old Lake Road, Bolton, NC. Full schedule of activities at www.waccamaw-siouan.com
Singing for the Servicemen
Faced with the stresses of war, World War II troops relied on USO performers like Hannah Block to sing and dance their troubles away — if just for the night. This Veterans Day, an original musical, “Mrs. World War II Wilmington — We Fell in Love at the USO,” by nationally decorated director/producer Tony Stimac, takes viewers back in time with quintessential songs of the era like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and “Goodnight Sweetheart.” Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the USO building — named for the local morale boosting songstress Hannah Block — in true 1940s style. Info: Nov. 11–13. Hannah Block Historic USO / Community Arts Center, 120 S. 2nd St., Wilmington. Tickets: Friday night gala (6:30 p.m.): $50, Saturday (3 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.) show tickets: $25, available online at www.wilmingtoncommunityarts.org
Why not offset the gravy guilt of the day’s medieval-style feast by waking up early for a family run? The afternoon will be stuffed, baked and scalloped until a tryptophan-induced sleep o’er takes us, ushering in the next five weeks of eating. Yes, we all know it’s coming, so stretch those turkey legs. Enter the Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot (5K) or fun run (1 mile) to earn your dinner Thanksgiving Day. You only have to run once, but you can rock the T-shirt all year. Info: Turkey Trot to benefit Habitat for Humanity, Nov. 26, 8:30 a.m. Registration: $40 per adult (5K), $20 (1 mile), Free for children under 5. Group of four receives 20 percent discount. https://its-go-time.com/wrightsville-beach-turkey-trot/
Some towns breed industry, ours breeds theater. The newly minted Second Star Theatre Company makes their maiden voyage with “The Last Five Years,” by the prolific Jason Robert Brown (“Songs for A New World,” “Parade,” “Bridges of Madison County”). A singer’s two-person musical, it tells the story of a couple who fall in and out and back in love. The play twists this standard storyline by telling Jaime’s story chronologically and Cathy’s in reverse order. Second Star sees the twist and raises it by rotating cast members from a quiver of six — you never know which two you’re going to get. Info: Nov. 3 – 12 at 7:30 p.m., Waterline Brewing Co., 721 Surry St.. Admission is free. More at http://secondstartheatre.org
Salt readers like stories, not just the headlines, but the real deal: in-depth, ground level, and from surprising vantage points. Everyone likes movies. Roll those loves around in the hay and you get may end up with the 22nd annual Cucalorus Film Festival: a five-day film fest, Nov. 9–13. Suddenly international filmmakers and arty-types will descend on downtown; you’ll know them by their lanyards. We are niche famous when it comes to this type of thing and, unlike many annual events, this one is different every year. A festival is only as good as its films, so let’s take a look at some Salt-y picks:
Finding Home – A stellar debut film for local screenwriter and director Nick Westfall, this narrative feature tells the heartstring-tugging story of Courtland, a down-on-his-luck teacher (Cullen Moss), and his young, newly orphaned nephew Oskar (Abel Zukerman). Believable and witty, the relationship between this unlikely pair morphs from bristly to bonded while they search their wacky extended family for a home for Oskar “Trading Mom”-style. The natural comedy, a well-written showcase of local character actors, does not overshadow this heartfelt adoption story; there will be tears. Nov. 11, 4:15 p.m., CFCC Union Station.
Women Who Kill – Smart, dry, sardonic writing and direction from once local, now Brooklyn-based filmmaker Ingrid Jungermann, this narrative feature will tickle fans of the podcasts Serial, Criminal or Casefile. The leading ladies, an ex-couple, Morgan and Jean, are true crime podcasters who begin to suspect Morgan’s new flame is a murderer. Life mimics art in this thoughtfully-paced introspective film. Nov. 10, 7 p.m., Thalian Hall and Nov. 11, 10:15 a.m., CFCC Union Station.
Hunter Gatherer – Recently taking home a best actor award at SXSW, Andre Royo (Bubbles from “The Wire”) stars in this narrative feature by director Joshua Locy as Ashley, a middle-aged optimist who finds returning to his depressed neighborhood, wife and family, after three years in prison, more difficult than he predicted. Royo, charming but flawed, is the best kind of underdog. You will root for him. Nov. 12, 1:15 p.m., Thalian Hall Black Box.
Generation Startup – Failure is an option for the six young entrepreneurs in this documentary feature, but they’re doing everything in their power to succeed. The stakes are high for these 20-somethings in Detroit; the ride is fun and fist-clenching. Oscar-winning director Cynthia Wade and Cheryl Miller Houser bring us this metaphor for the revival of the Motor City and show us the real-life risks and rewards of creating your own company. This film is a part of Cucalorus Connect, the business conference arm of the festival that provides resources to filmmakers and entrepreneurs. Nov. 10, 7 p.m., CFCC Union Station.
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice – This documentary feature by Deborah Riley Draper tells the story of the African-American Olympians who competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin in a time of Jim Crow laws at home and Nazi supremacy abroad. Heroic and historic, the actions of these 18 athletes paved the way for the civil rights movement. Nov. 13, 4:15 p.m., Thalian Hall Black Box.
Info: See the full schedule of films, panels and activities, plus purchase advance tickets to films and blocks of shorts ($10) or multi-ticket passes (ranging $45 – $300), at www.cucalorus.org