What a year… Despite all the obstacles and changes, we’re super happy about where the Sidewalk 2020 line-up has landed. Beyond that, I’m so incredibly proud of the work that everyone at Sidewalk has done (and is doing) to make this year’s festival happen… safely; I’m way excited to be able to watch films with everyone offline. While I don’t think you can really go wrong no matter what you decide to catch at the Festival, I thought I’d highlight a few films from Sidewalk 2020, the drive-in edition. So, if you’re looking for recommendations, here you go.

I also put together a fun drive-in themed playlist that also features songs from many of the Sidewalk 2020 films.

 

FIRST COW

Kind and beautiful and smart… director Kelly Reichardt must be psychic, as FIRST COW presents a surprisingly apropos tale for the immediate era. Considering the film takes place mostly outside, it’s an extra special opportunity to see this one under the stars. Reichardt intended the film to be experienced theatrically on the big screen and shot it accordingly, but its run was, unfortunately, cut short due to the pandemic. She has been very vocal about the importance of theatrical exhibition regarding the film and we are honored to be one of the few places to support her wishes for the work. We won’t be surprised at all if FIRST COW receives an Oscar nod early next year.

Screens Monday night, August 24th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thank you to Fig Street Marketing Group and Kinetic for sponsoring

 

TEEN WOLF (1985)/TEEN WITCH (1989)

An entire high school overtaken with “wolf fever”, van surfing, puberty metaphors, the “Top That” “rap”, late twenties actors playing teenagers… plus there’s also a tiny surprise that will precede TEEN WITCH. How can you go wrong? Here’s a couple of fun facts: Michael J. Fox couldn’t eat solid food while in make-up so he regularly had milkshakes and soup. The “creepy” house at the start of TEEN WITCH is the same one from the Michael Jackson “Thriller” music video.

Screens Monday night, August 24th as a double feature, with TEEN WOLF starting at 8pm and TEEN WITCH starting around 9:30pm • Get Tickets

Thanks to Renewal By Andersen, AIDS Alabama and Kinetic for sponsoring

 

SHE DIES TOMORROW

Talk about appropriate for the era… there’s a lot to unpack here and I’ll just leave it at that. Part experimental film, part thriller and part darker than dark comedy, SHE DIES TOMORROW is meditative, complex and laced with unforgettable moments. Plus the cast and crew include a long list of Sidewalk alum. We are beyond honored to support Amy Seimetz’s newest work.

Screens on Tuesday, August 25th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thank you to Brandino Brass Co. for sponsoring

 

BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS

The conditions of the last few months have prevented the vast majority of us from grabbing a drink out, so why not take this opportunity to spend a little time in a dive bar – from the safety of your own car? The Ross Brothers do what they do best and present a stylish, layered observational documentary – this time covering the last night of a Las Vegas bar. It’s a really special film.

Screens on Tuesday, August 25th at 10:30pm • Get Tickets

Thanks to AIDS Alabama for sponsoring

 

TRUTH TO POWER: BARBARA LEE SPEAKS FOR ME

This traditional documentary celebrates the history, thus far, of Representative Barbara Lee who, for one, was the brave one-and-only vote in opposition to the broad authorization of military force after the September 11th attacks. In such lone opposition, she stated, “Let us not become the evil we deplore.” Check out who is featured in the film: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Cory Booker, Danny Glover, Alice Walker and the late Rep. John Lewis.

Screens on Wednesday, August 26th at 8pm • Get Tickets

 

MIRACLE FISHING

You aren’t going to believe this one – the patriarch of a family is kidnapped and his wife and kids, with help from neighbors and friends, take it upon themselves to negotiate their father’s ransom and videotape the entire process. Did you catch the fact that MIRACLE FISHING is a documentary?! Not to be missed.

Screens on Wednesday, August 26th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thank you to Alain Bouchard and Deanna Newman for sponsoring

 

ROAD HOUSE (1989)

Come on, this is an easy choice! I mentioned missing the bar and this one comes with your own personal Patrick Swayze. An incredible dive-bar-double-feature would be to catch BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS on Tuesday night, and ROAD HOUSE on Wednesday. Here’s something fun to keep in mind during the screening: while filming the big fight scene by the river, a raft full of very crafty Swayze-loving ladies floated by to catch a glimpse of Swayze in action, worth it.

Screens on Wednesday, August 26th at 10:15pm • Get Tickets

 

NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984)

A retro film perfect for the moment – two bad-ass leading women, zombie cops, and a deserted mall – what more do you need? Keep and eye and ear out for: The film’s working title was “Teenage Mutant Comet Zombies”, which you will hear referenced by the radio DJ. The VALLEY GIRL soundtrack makes an appearance. The empty Los Angeles shots were filmed early in the morning on normal business days. At the beginning of the film, the waving clown is the same one Pee-Wee Herman locks his bike to in PEE-WEES BIG ADVENTURE. A fun “abandoned mall” double feature: NIGHT OF THE COMET on Thursday night and JASPER MALL on Sunday night.

Screens on Thursday, August 27th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thanks to Stacey and Chance Shirley for sponsoring

 

COMING CLEAN

I almost didn’t mention this one because it’s such a no-brainer – COMING CLEAN is two-time Sundance award winner Ondi Timoner’s newest documentary, which takes aim at the alarming opioid crisis in the U.S. Plus, due to the pandemic, the film has had very limited screenings. We’re super lucky to have this one in the line-up.

Screens on Thursday, August 27th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thanks to the UAB School Of Public Health for sponsoring

 

MONEY MACHINE

If you love true crime docs you won’t want to miss MONEY MACHINE. The filmmakers acquired an incredible amount of first-hand footage from the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and its subsequent aftermath. This is one that might not be as obvious and, therefore, may not be high up on your list, but, trust me, it absolutely should be.

Screens on Thursday, August 27th at 10:20pm • Get Tickets

 

DRIVE-IN MASSACRE (1976)

Sorry, I just had to throw this one on the list – I mean it’s a drive-in film festival… DRIVE-IN MASSACRE….

Screens on Thursday, August 27th at 10:40pm • Get Tickets

Thanks to AIDS Alabama for sponsoring

 

EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE: Doggiewoggiez! Poochiewoochiez!

Looking for something that is pure fun and antics and doesn’t require your full attention?… This is the perfect option. As the title suggests, this installment of EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE sets its sights on canines. Made up of bonkers as heck found footage, EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE is fast-paced ridiculousness perfect for the late-night drive-in. Plus we’re throwing in some surprises.

Screens on Thursday, August 27th at 10:10pm • Get Tickets

 

HARLEY

Another one that may not be on your radar, but it really should be. HARLEY is an amazing character-driven documentary that you have to see to believe. Once you’ve encountered Harley you’ll never forget him. On the fence? – Check out the trailer. You do not want to miss this film.

Screens on Friday, August 28th at 8pm • Get Tickets

 

CANDYMAN (1992)

Get ready for the upcoming 2020 CANDYMAN “spiritual sequel”, co-written by Jordan Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta, by prepping with a rare outdoor screening of the original film. The subtext is brilliantly heavy with this one. Is anyone willing to say Candyman five times in their rearview mirror? Let us know. Here’s some fun trivia: Eddie Murphy was originally considered for the title role of Candyman and lead actor, Tony Todd, who negotiated a bonus of $1,000 for each of the 23 bee stings that he received during filming.

Screens on Friday, August 28th at 10pm • Get Tickets 

Thanks to the Greater Birmingham Visitors and Conventions Bureau for sponsoring

 

BOYS STATE

This was a last-minute addition and it’s exceptional. A Sundance 2020 premiere and its winner of the U.S. Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize, BOYS STATE presents an interesting microcosm of U.S. politics. The documentary follows one class of the American Legion Boys State summer leadership and citizenship program in Texas, in which a thousand male-identifying high school students build a representative government from the ground up. The film was scheduled to screen at the 2020 South By Southwest Film Festival but was canceled due to the pandemic.

Screens on Friday, August 28th at 9:50pm • Get Tickets

 

GIANTS BEING LONELY

I cannot say enough good things about this gorgeous, ephemeral film. This will be its first theatrical screening and who knows the possible trajectory of this amazing picture, so catch it as soon as you can, while you can. Beautiful, strange, and complicated – we are so fortunate to have this beautiful work in the line-up. Another one that will be especially magical to see under the stars.

Screens on Saturday, August 29th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thanks to AIDS Alabama for sponsoring

 

EMA

Perhaps the best film of the year… EMA brings the energy. A dance-narrative-thriller-melodrama showstopper of a movie. It’s impossible to take your eyes off the amazing lead Mariana Di Girolamo (like dang!). This film is straight-up awesome on so many damn levels.

Screens on Saturday, August 29th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thanks to AIDS Alabama for sponsoring

 

 

SATURDAY NIGHT CARTOONS

If you’ve ever been to Saturday Morning Cartoons at Sidewalk then you know what you’re in store for (minus the cereal bar this round). If not then: it’s a one of a kind, will not be repeated, the lo-fi, vintage explosion of fun featuring classic cartoons from the 80s’ and 90s’, vintage commercials and lots of surprises.

Screens on Saturday, August 29th at 10:10pm • Get Tickets

 

ROAR (1981)

Let me just do this: Director and star Noel Marshall, with his wife Tippi Hedren and her daughter Melanie Griffith, decided to bring rescued big cats into their home in California and lived with them to make the film. The feature was in production for a total of 11 years. Animals weren’t harmed during the making of the film, but 70 people were injured as a result of animal attacks. Marshall encouraged spontaneous actions by the animals, leading some of the lions to be credited as writers. Just a few of the injuries: a lion bit Hedren in the head and the cats teeth scraped against her skull, Marshall was diagnosed with gangrene after numerous attacks, Griffith was attacked by a lion, received over 50 stitches and underwent facial reconstruction surgery. Damn. It’s now all here, a few decades later, on the big screen for your entertainment.

Screens on Saturday, August 29th at 10:30pm • Get Tickets

 

HEROES

HEROES is a super high production value, intensely dramatic look at five of the most famous living racecar drivers in the world. Watching people work hard as hell to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve greatness is truly something else. This one is very much worth your time.

Screens on Sunday, August 30th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thanks to the Greater Birmingham Visitors and Conventions Bureau for sponsoring

 

JASPER MALL

What a freaking great documentary. They had us at dying mall. Beautifully sad and a true sign of the times, plus Jasper, as in Jasper, Alabama.

Screens on Sunday, August 30th at 8pm • Get Tickets

Thank you to AIDS Alabama and Birmingham Southern College Film & Media Studies for sponsoring

 

HALLOWEEN (1978)

One of the greatest independent films of all time… it needs no introduction. We’re about to enter fall, why not get started a little early this very last weekend of August.

Screens on Sunday, August 30th at 10pm • Get Tickets 

Thank you to AIDS Alabama for sponsoring

 

TRANSHOOD

This is the only chance to catch this wonderful, important film on the big screen before it airs on HBO in the fall. We’re honored to have this well crafted, highly invested, comprehensive film in the line-up.

Screens on Sunday, August 30th at 8pm • Get Tickets 

Thank you to AIDS Alabama and the LGBTQ Fund for sponsoring

 

DONNIE DARKO (2001)

DONNIE DARKO marks Seth Rogen’s feature film debut and early lead rolls for Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jena Malone. Plus there’s the questionably stunt-cast Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, and Drew Barrymore and, of course, Alabama’s own Beth Grant. When will you ever again have a chance to catch the sci-fi-thriller-coming-of-age-melodrama-comedy DONNIE DARKO on a Sunday night outdoors under the stars in Alabama? Exactly. Oh… and Sparkle Motion. Time travel seems like the perfect note on which to end the very unique 2020 Sidewalk Film Festival.

Screens on Sunday, August 30th at 10:10pm • Get Tickets

 

As promised, here’s a super fun drive-in themed Spotify playlist that also features songs from many of the Sidewalk 2020 films: link.

Additionally, if you want to hear me ramble on more about the festival, I recently had the good fortune of being invited to the Jackie Lo Show. Jackie put together a most excellent playlist for the occasion and I only mess up a few times. You can listen to the show in its entirety here: Link

 

Happy Sidewalk,

Rachel Morgan

Creative Director, Sidewalk Film Festival

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