Monday, August 31, 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015 Recap

Hey guys, I hope you had an incredible weekend! Sorry, I didn't blog as much last week but you know how life gets super busy at times. I have lots of posts ready for this week and I can't wait to share my experience at the Sidewalk Film Festival held in Downtown Birmingham the last weekend in August. This was my first year attending the fest (which is in its 17th year) and I am wondering why I haven't attended sooner! Wanting to get the most out of the weekend, I selected the VIP Ticket Pass, it was totally worth it. Not only do you get access to all the films but a special VIP lounge area in the nearby Continental Bakery with snacks and drinks throughout the day as well as a few Sidewalk goodies and admission to all the pre and after parties of the weekend. The Kickoff party for the event was on Thursday night from 5pm-9pm held at the Historic Rucker Place in Five Points. It's a beautiful old southern style home with vintage décor. There were food and drinks, the specialty drink of the night was called "The Harper Lee", how great is that? The event also had live music and it was great to socialize with the filmmakers, actors, etc. that were local and out of town.

The after-party was at a new favorite spot of mine, Saturn Birmingham located in the Avondale district. It looks like a mix of Space Mountain and Pizza Planet on the inside! A really cool place with a great atmosphere and there are lots of old school and new school video games that you can play around the stage area.

On Friday the festival kicked off with the opening night film, Raiders (an amazing documentary by the way) and the theme was an Indian Jones vibe.  I had never been a huge documentary fan until this past weekend, I saw some wonderful features and can't wait to check out more in the future! The opening night was full of excitement and all the film lovers seemed ecstatic.
It was raining a little but no way that was going to stop the evening festivities!

After the movie, it was like a block party type atmosphere. They were even showing the original Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark on a blow up screen. I was so sad I missed the donut wall though! Yes, a wall made of actual donuts aka a dream come true. After a snack with my buddies, it was time to call it a night to get ready for the first full day at the movies.

I love seeing Birmingham lights at night and the historic, restored Lyric Theatre lit up. Can't wait to see this beauty when it is completed in a few months!

Day 2 (Saturday): After making a quick stop at the Continental Bakery for our VIP grab and go breakfast, it was time for movies. The way it works is you are given a guide with all the movies and their locations. We were mostly at the Alabama Theatre but there are several other theaters and all pretty much within walking distance to each other. They were also offering trams and golf cart rides to take you to your theater of choice. I would recommend parking by the Alabama since it is the hub then walking or taking a tram from there.
It was non-stop movie madness, one of my favorites was Krisha which was actually produced by one of my college friends. You see so many unique and interesting films, animation, shorts and docs at fests like this. Don't let a name or synopsis scare you off from seeing something. Give everything a shot!

Food trucks lined the streets outside the main event hub (the Alabama) so after a few films, it was time for a snack break! My ice cream cookie from Big Spoon Creamery was delicious, try the cookies and cream!

I liked how the Continental Bakery was so close that you could walk right across the street. In addition to the VIP area, anyone could purchase healthier fare such as chicken salad, fruit and sandwiches. Love the décor on the inside!

The Saturday after-party was held at Sloss Furnaces and had a wait for it...a pig theme! You may or may not know I am obsessed with pigs. The decorations here were some of the cutest and pinkest I've ever seen. The event was held at the new Sloss Furnace venue and it was a great choice for the party.

The even had put-put golf for attendees to play! Great music and good times were being had by all.

I really should have gotten a temporary time!
Yes, they even had a mechanical pig you could ride. A MECAHNICAL PIG! Overall, the party was a wonderful way to cap off an amazing day of film watching. Still one more day to go!

Day 3 (Sunday): Another early morning for one of my favorite series of the fest. There were several short film blocks and I found these to be a great way to experience lots of unique films at once. They also have blocks with documentary shorts. The short films range from about 10 min to 30 min so you get a lot of films in at one time. Yes, I also ate a moon pie and coke for breakfast. It was early!
The day just seemed to fly by and soon it was time for the last film I saw at the fest. It was seriously my favorite movie, A Few Zombies More played to a packed house at the historic Carver Theatre. If you are from Alabama (or anywhere really) you must check out this local made hit. It even won the Viewer's Choice at the awards ceremony later that nigh! All films besides the shorts, have a q&a after session so feel free to ask any questions you may have.
As they say, all good things must come to an end and the Sidewalk Film Festival was no exception. They definitely gained a new fan and I can see what all my friends have been talking about for the last few years. It really was a special weekend. If you live in Birmingham, please don't tell me there is nothing to do here...there is plenty. Events like this are happening more frequently and the city keeps preparing for more. If you live in another city or state, I highly recommend the Sidewalk Film Festival and hope you join me next year!
A special thanks to all the filmmakers, actors, producers, and everyone associated with the films for making such great work for all to enjoy. This event would not be possible without the city, event planers, marketing teams, sponsors, food vendors and of course the volunteers. THANK YOU for an eventful weekend!
Happy Film Watching!


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