I’ve spent plenty of time over the last two years talking about Georgia’s film festival circuit, which is much more expansive than many people realize. Full of rich content, insightful filmmakers and valuable networking opportunities—I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to explore Georgia’s film festivals! But now I’m branching out. In two-and-a-half weeks, I’ll be attending the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama (also known as the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival).
Taking place across six different venues in downtown Birmingham, Sidewalk has earned an impressive reputation over the last several years as a vibrant and lively festival with impressive programming to boot. As much as I am looking forward to the fest, I’m equally excited about spending time in such a cool community. I will be reviewing films from the festival in the coming weeks, but be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more complete coverage.
After the jump, check out eleven films—just a fraction of the great lineup—worth checking out this year at Sidewalk.
A huge hit out of Sundance this past January, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” has been generating plenty of buzz for stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara and as well as writer-director David Lowery and cinematographer Bradford Young. One glimpse at the trailer will reveal familiar Malickian elements of the 1970s west Texas story, but Lowery’s vision promises to be all his own. (Trailer)
Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s controversial documentary “Blackfish” stormed through an impressive festival run earlier this year and is currently seeing success in a platform release across the country. The film focuses on Tilikum—a killer whale who has been in captivity at SeaWorld since 1983—calling into question both the treatment of orca whales and the dangers of keeping them captive. “Blackfish” is currently playing in Atlanta and opens in Birmingham on August 16th. (Trailer)
“Bluebird”—the feature debut from writer-director Lance Edmands—has become a quiet hit on the indie festival scene, making waves and taking awards at Tribeca and Karlovy Vary. The cold, small-town Maine setting paints an icy blue picture for this haunting drama about a school bus driver’s honest mistake and the ramifications that come with it. (Clip)
The hip Austin nightlife scene is both the inspiration and the setting for Brian Poyser’s mischievous comedy. In a sea of compelling documentaries and subdued dramas, “The Bounceback” is probably your best bet for some rowdy laughs.
After certain events and decisions lead his parents to have him abducted in the middle of the night and taken to a remote juvenile reform facility, we watch as Brad Lunders (played by P.J. Boudousqué) struggles to survive in his new habitat. Written by Vincent Grashaw and Mark Penney, “Coldwater” has gotten excellent marks from festivals all across the globe. (Trailer)
I don’t even know what to say about this one, you’ll just have to watch the trailer. (Trailer)
One of my two favorites out of this year’s incredibly strong Atlanta Film Festival lineup, “Congratulations!” contains the kind of outrageously subtle “Airplane!” humor that just doesn’t seem to have much of a place in today’s world. With fantastic performances, exceptional art direction and director Mike Brune’s meticulous eye for detail, this film should rightfully be catching fire right now. I am very proud of this Georgia production. (Trailer)
Former Georgia resident Ryan White brought his film “Good Ol’ Freda” to the Atlanta Film Festival earlier this year. Freda Kelly served as the secretary for the Beatles, from their days as an up-and-coming band in Liverpool all the way through their record-breaking run as the most influential rock band of all time.
Perhaps the one film that I am looking forward to most at Sidewalk, Daniel Patrick Carbone’s “Hide Your Smiling Faces” already impressed people at Berlinale and Tribeca. Shot in rural New Jersey, two young brothers work through the aftermath of a neighborhood tragedy in this mysterious and atmospheric drama. (Trailer)
Another Sundance hit, Andrew Dosunmu’s “Mother of George” has received some of the best reviews I’ve read all year. As if Danai Gurira’s indelible presence wasn’t enough, the film looks to offer exceptionally rich texture and color with a classical sensibility. (Trailer)
Another Atlanta Film Festival alumnus, “Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride” explores the politics, pop culture and economics behind Coney Island’s famed rides and evolving landscape. (Trailer)