We are thrilled to announce the second batch of titles for the upcoming 24th annual Sidewalk Film Festival, including our opening night selection.
OPENING NIGHT SELECTION: Butterfly in the Sky
Directed by Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb
Documentary (Alabama, Black Lens)
Birmingham’s own Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb have previously played at Sidewalk with their documentary features GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, Jasper Mall, and A Life in Waves, among others. Now, we’re thrilled to open the 24th annual Sidewalk Film Festival with their latest documentary. Butterfly in the Sky is the story of the beloved public television show Reading Rainbow, the product of a committed team of educators and producers who used their platform to instill a love of reading in their young viewers. With long-time host LeVar Burton at the helm, they sought to create a kinder, more curious, and more empathetic generation. Now, those involved reflect on the success of their mission. This behind-the-scenes look at one of the most treasured children’s television series shows how this ragtag crew changed the lives of millions. Butterfly in the Sky recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Join us for the hometown premiere on Friday, Aug. 26, at the Alabama Theatre and stick around for our Opening Night Afterparty, right outside the theater on 3rd Ave. N.
The Pez Outlaw
Directed by Amy Bandlien Storkel and Bryan Storkel
Now here’s a “true crime” documentary that won’t make you feel terrible about the state of humanity. Bryan Storkel (a Sidewalk regular who also produced opening night selections Butterfly in the Sky and 2018’s White Tide) and Amy Bandlien Storkel direct this wildly entertaining documentary about Steve Glew, a Pez enthusiast who made millions in the collectors’ market by traveling to Europe and acquiring rare Pez variants unattainable in the U.S. But his exploits drew the attention of Pez Candy USA, whose CEO — the “Pezident” — makes it a special mission to shut Glew down. This escalating war of wills and Pez dispensers set the stage for the Storkels’ magnificently bubbly film, as quirky as Glew himself and as sweet as Pez candy.
The Third Saturday in October Part V
The Third Saturday in October
Directed by Jay Burleson
Jay Burleson’s Alabama-shot and -set double feature introduces a new iconic masked murderer in a loving homage to the grimy, cheaply made horror franchises that produced one too many sequels. Despite what you might think, we’ll start with Part V, which finds the murderous and possibly undead Jakkariah Harding slicing and dicing rural Alabama football fans during the weekend of a big college football rivalry. Then we’ll jump back to the “first” film, which shows how Harding claimed his first victims. Burleson and his cast and crew of Sidewalk regulars and local faces have made two charming and affectionate tributes to the slasher franchises of the ‘80s and ‘90s — and if you’re a horror fan, you’ll want to get tickets to both.
The Smell of Money
Directed by Shawn Bannon
Documentary (Black Lens, Life & Liberty)
A rural North Carolina community battles a factory-farming conglomerate over the hog waste processing practices that have made daily life unlivable in their homes and polluted their air, land and water. This shocking documentary, exposing some of the foul secrets of corporate farming, develops into a legal David vs. Goliath story, as the predominantly Black residents of this small community band together against one of the largest pork companies in the world. The Smell of Money asks you to consider the human cost of what you put on your plate, and showcases some truly inspiring homegrown activists pushing for a cleaner, nicer-smelling future.
Chop & Steele
Directed by Ben Steinbauer and Berndt Nader
Documentary (Life & Liberty)
Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett are two guys who have pushed each other into a series of elaborate pranks since they first became friends in grade school. While on tour with their Found Footage Festival — a celebration of weird VHS tapes the two have found over the years at yard sales and thrift shops — Prueher and Pickett amuse themselves by getting booked on local news stations as “experts” in fields they know nothing about. But posing as the hilariously inept strongman duo Chop & Steele (despite, as they point out, not appearing muscular at all) is a bridge too far for one TV station’s parent company, who sues the duo, making their future as comic agents of chaos uncertain. Chop & Steele is a hilarious docu-portrait of the joys of doing stupid stuff with your BFF.
Directed by Erin Bernhardt and Din Blankenship
Documentary (Life & Liberty)
How do you fix hatred? Chris is a veteran whose wartime trauma led him to a life of white nationalism and a leadership position in the Ku Klux Klan. Heval is a Kurdish refugee working as a physician in the diverse city of Clarkston, Georgia. When Heval reaches out to form an unlikely connection, Chris is forced to reconsider the hollowness of his white supremacist mindset, and in doing so finds greater healing than he might ever have anticipated. The timely Refuge arrives at a moment when divisions in the United States run deeper than in decades. But by following Chris’s path from radicalization to reconciliation, Refuge shows that empathy and love can bridge these divisions.
Directed by Pacho Velez
What are we looking for when we’re looking for love? This innovative documentary asks dozens of New Yorkers that question, superimposing the screens of their phones over their faces as they scroll through their dating apps, looking for a partner, fling or soulmate. The result is revealing, comic and wistful — a portrait of people of varying ages, orientations, racial and ethnic backgrounds all searching for a connection.
SPECIAL EVENT: “Etowah : A Film about Duquette Johnston” followed
by a live performance by Duquette Johnston
Directed by Daniel Fox
Documentary short (Alabama)
Join us at the newly renovated Carver Theatre all weekend for incredible films, including a screening of this new short documentary on Birmingham musician Duquette Johnston and his latest album, “The Social Animals.” Then, stick around for a special live performance from Johnston on the Carver stage. We’re thrilled to host one of Birmingham’s most beloved music artists in the historic 4th Avenue Business District, the hub of our jazz scene and home of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
The 24th annual Sidewalk Film Festival will be held Aug. 22-28 in downtown Birmingham’s theatre district.
Purchase your passes now at sidewalkfest.com/tix.