From Small Beginnings to National Acclaim
Sidewalk was founded in 1999, and it was originally called the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. The first fest took place in May of that year, originally garnering only 4,000 attendees. They’ve steadily grown over the years both as a festival and as an institution, now welcoming on average 15,000 excited film fans to Birmingham, Alabama.
In that time, Sidewalk has been included in USA Today’s “Top 10 Places for a Fabulous Film Festival,” Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Film Festivals for the Rest of Us,” MovieMaker Magazine’s “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World,” and most recently their list, “20 Great Film Festivals For First-Time Movie Makers.”
Great Movies By Great People
As their slogan for this year reads, they screen “great movies by great people,” or “great movies for great people (like you).” Sidewalk is a very community-driven festival, offering opportunities for local Alabama filmmakers to showcase their work as well as filmmakers from around the world. No matter if you consider yourself a cinephile, or a casual moviegoer, you will feel like you fit right in. There is something for everyone. And one film to especially not miss this year? The opening night film, Butterfly in the Sky.
Butterfly in the Sky is a documentary directed by Birmingham’s own Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb. It takes viewers behind the scenes of the iconic educational program Reading Rainbow. (Who else has the theme song stuck in their head now?!)Sidewalk also has a few surprises still unannounced, so stay tuned for more news!
Tips for the First-Time Attendee
Never been to Sidewalk? For the first-time attendees, Nick recommends:
- catching the opening and closing night movies (Friday, August 26, and Sunday, August 28, respectively) because of the energy and atmosphere;
- branching out and attending a screening to a movie that’s totally out of your comfort-zone! Nick’s found some of his favorite titles when least expected;
- checking out the FREE educational programs/panels throughout the weekend to satisfy your cinephile needs; and
- attending the opening night and Saturday night parties–they are always a blast!
Sidewalk Film will also host a free “How to Fest” panel on August 2nd. At their August Salon: Sidewalk Film Festival Tips + Tricks, you can learn about the films screening from the programmers themselves, hear about the interactive panel sessions, walk through the festival footprint, learn how to navigate the schedule with a Sched tutorial, get recommendations on what to see based on your favorite films, and enter your name into a Swag Bag Giveaway! You can find more details about the event here.
Beyond the Festival
Have you ever wondered what the Sidewalk team does throughout the year? The great and talented people behind the annual festival are the same people who are behind the Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema, located in the lower level of the Pizitz building.
They are Birmingham’s only independent theater, screening current indie titles as well as repertory screenings all throughout the year. Along with this, they offer several fundraising events and educational programs. When you get a chance, come grab a drink, explore the beautiful lobby area, and enjoy a movie!
Spread the Word and Enter for a Chance to Win Tickets!
We can’t wait for Sidewalk Film Festival and are thrilled to offer our readers a chance to win free tickets! Head over to our Instagram account to enter to win two Opening Night tickets and two Weekend Passes. (**Giveaway has closed!**)
The Sidewalk Film Festival can’t happen without dedicated film lovers in attendance! Help spread the word and tell your friends. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @sidewalkfilm for updates! See you there!