The Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival is set for September 23-25 in Birmingham’s historic theatre district. Included in this year’s competitive lineup are 12 narrative features and 8 feature-length documentaries. These films will be eligible for the juried awards in their category, including Best Feature Film and Best Documentary, each accompanied by a cash prize of $1,000. Additionally, Audience Choice Awards will be presented in both the feature film and documentary categories.
Sidewalk’s mantra to bring “new films to a new audience” continues for its seventh year. The competition feature films, selected from over 130 entrants, are:
AMERICANO (95 min./Color), directed and written by Kevin Noland, centers around a recent college graduate backpacking through Europe who savors his last three days of freedom before boarding the career fast track back in the United States. Starring: Joshua Jackson, Timm Sharpe, Leonor Varela, Ruthanna Hopper and Dennis Hopper.
AMERICANO is the Opening Night Film, to screen September 23 at 8 pm at the Alabama Theatre. Cast members and director/writer scheduled to be in attendance.
CAVITE (80 min. / Color), directed, produced and written by Neill Dela Llana and Ian Gamazon, features an American citizen visiting his home country, who is informed that his mother and sister have been kidnapped and will be killed if he doesn’t comply with certain demands. Helpless and alone in a country he barely knows he must submit himself to the kidnapper’s every wish or face the consequences.
THE DRY SPELL (76 min. / Color), directed by John E. Dowdle, is an offbeat comedy hilariously depicting the deterioration of mental health in the absence of sex. It’s been nearly two years since this dry spell began, and the urgency to find new love is boiling over. Josey’s self-confidence is at an all-time low. Having very little to offer, Josey must try harder than other men. And try he does.
FOUR EYED MONSTERS (85 min. / Color), directed, written by and starring Susan Buice and Arin Crumley, explores the fact that technology is changing the way people connect. Going overboard embracing these changes, Arin & Susan attempt to re-invent modern day romance. There creative approach to interaction gets out of control as they spiral off into fantasies, discoveries and nightmares.
MAX & GRACE (88 min. / Color), directed and written by Michael Parness, is a suicidal comedy about two young lovers who get married and escape from a mental institution in search of new ways to die…and the white light. Starring: Natasha Lyonne, David Krumholtz, Tim Blake Nelson, Lorraine Bracco, David Paymer and Rosanna Arquette.
MEN WITHOUT JOBS (108 min. / Color), written and directed by Mad Matthewz, is a comedy about Ish and Oz, best friends and roommates with big dreams of starting their own hip-hop band. The two eccentric slackers make a pact to avoid the dreaded nine-to-five at all costs but come to realize that sooner or later everyone has to get a job.. Starring: Ishmael Butler, Bonz Malone, Andre Royo and Anita Kopacz.
MUTUAL APPRECIATION (110 min. / Black & White), directed and written by Andrew Bujalski, explores the life of Alan, a musician who moves to New York hoping to put together a new version of his band that has just broken up. In down time he drinks and strategizes with his old friend Lawrence, and his girlfriend Ellie.
NOVEM (103 min. / Color), directed and written by Brad Kimmel, is about nine college students who spend a week camping out and recording music at a remote studio location in May 1973. On the way back to campus, they are involved in a van accident and all nine singer/songwriters are killed. The music they recorded disappears and remains silent for over thirty years until it is accidentally purchased by a college student at a garage sale.
THE PUFFY CHAIR (85 min. / Color), directed by Jay Duplass, tells the story of Josh Sagers who drives cross-country on a mission to deliver his father’s birthday gift – a giant purple LazyBoy.
SWIMMERS (93 min. / Color),written and directed by Doug Sadler, follows the relationship between a lonely eleven year-old girl from a family of struggling watermen and an enigmatic young woman making an uneasy return to the home of her childhood.
THE UNSEEN (90 min. / Color), written and directed by Lisa France, is set in small-town rural Georgia, where an intense, introverted African American man returns to his hometown upon the death of his father to confront a horrific secret only seen by he and his former best friend. This difficult reunion enables he and his friend to gain access to forgiveness, affinity and love. Starring: Steve Harris, Catherine Dent and Judah Friedlander.
YOU ARE ALONE (84 min. / Color), written and directed by Gorman Bechard, is a dark and sexually-charged exploration of just how far a jaded middle-aged man and a depressed 18-year-old girl will go to escape loneliness, even if only for an hour.
The competition documentaries, selected from more than 70 entries, are:
BOYS OF BARAKA (81 min. / Color), directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, deals with twenty “at risk” 12-year-old boys from the tough streets of inner-city Baltimore who leave home to attend the 7th and 8th grade at Baraka, an experimental boarding school located in Kenya, East Africa. Here, faced with a strict academic and disciplinary program as well as the freedom to be normal teenage boys, these brave kids began the daunting journey towards putting their lives on a fresh path.
DERAILROADED (86 min. / Color), directed by Josh Rubin, tells the story of the life and music of manic-depressive, paranoid-schizophrenic cult music icon Wild Man Fischer.
FAVELA RISING (79 min. / Color), directed by Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist, studies Anderson Sa, a former drug-trafficker turned revolutionary, who emerges from Rio de Janeiro’s most feared slum to use hip-hop music and Afro-Brazilian dance to rally his community to war against the violent oppression enforced by teenage drug armies and sustained by corrupt police.
IN A NUTSHELL: A PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH TASHJIAN (80 min. / Color), directed by Don Bernier, illustrates the life of Elizabeth Tashjian, a one-time concert violinist, heralded artist, Christian Science healer, late TV celebrity and founder of the Nut Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. In her 90s, she became a ward of the state and confined to a nursing home against her will. This film focuses on her fight to preserve her identity and regain her life.
LUCHA LIBRE: LIFE BEHIND THE MASK (60 min. / Color), directed by Carlos Garcia and Rich Walton, explores the unique world of Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) through the stories of three “luchadors” continuing the tradition in Los Angeles.
MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA (72 min. / Color), directed by David Redmon, is a story of globalization told through humor and sadness, hope and violence by the owner of a bead factory in China; the largest Mardi Gras bead distributor in the world; carnival revelers who exchange beads during Mardi Gras; and four teenage bead-workers in China who make Mardi Gras beads.
MUSIC IS MY LIFE: POLITICS MY MISTRESS (51 min. / Color), directed by Donnie L. Betts, is rich, intimate biography of Oscar Brown Jr., a cultural icon whose many accomplishments as a musician, writer, playwright, and civil rights activist have left a lasting mark on a generation.
PLAGUES AND PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA (86 min. / Color), directed by Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer, explores the bizarre Salton Sea, in the middle of a harsh desert valley. Narrated by John Waters.
MY BIG FAT INDEPENDENT MOVIE is the festival’s “Kick-Off Screening” on Thursday, September 22 at 10 pm at Workplay Theatre. Chris Gore is scheduled to be in attendance.
MY BIG FAT INDEPENDENT MOVIE, directed by Philip Zlotorynski and written by Chris Gore, is a spoof that parodies some of the indie film world’s most renowned movies such as “Memento,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Magnolia,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Amelie,” “Run Lola Run,” “El Mariachi,” “The Good Girl,” “Pi,” “Swingers” and many others.
THE BAXTER will be the festival’s Closing Night Film, which will be screened on Sunday, September 25 at 5 pm at the Alabama Theatre.
THE BAXTER, directed by Michael Showalter, follows in the style of a Howard Hawks comedy. In every romantic comedy there is always that scene at the end where the leading man barges through the chapel doors just as the leading lady is about to marry the Wrong Guy. THE BAXTER is about the guy left at the alter. Starring: Michael Showalter, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Williams, Justin Theroux and Michael Ian Black.
REEL PARADISE will be screened on Sunday, September 25 at 2 pm at the Harbert Center.
REEL PARADISE (110 min. / Color), directed by Steve James, journeys with indie film “guru” John Pierson as he takes his family to Fiji for one year to run the world’s most remote movie theater.
BE HERE TO LOVE ME: A FILM ABOUT TOWNES VAN ZANDT will be screened on Saturday, September 24
at 2 pm at the Harbert Center.
BE HERE TO LOVE ME: A FILM ABOUT TOWNES VAN ZANDT, directed by Margaret Brown, explores the life of Townes Van Zandt, widely recognized as a true songwriter’s songwriter. Having released dozens of albums since the mid 1960s, Van Zandt, who died in 1997, solidified his place in America’s musical pantheon. The film includes, among others, Van Zandt, Willie Nelson, Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Guy Clarke and Kris Kristofferson.
For more info, visit the Sidewalk website.