Last night I got the opportunity to celebrate Alan Hunter’s 15 years of service with the Sidewalk Film Festival, an organization very close to my heart as most of you know. When I moved back to Birmingham in 2004 or so after living in Atlanta, I hardly knew a soul besides my family in the city. Almost immediately upon my return, my grandmother Gayle gave me a clipping from The Birmingham News for a film festival monthly meeting announcement, as she knew I had an interest in independent film. I decided to go on my own, and was immediately introduced to then festival director Erik Jambor (founding father along with Wayne Franklin). I felt so accepted and at home with the local film community, as well as inspired. I made quick friends with several people who I still know and love to this day – Sam Frazier, James Brown, Arik Sokol, Kelly Suzanne, Catherine Pfitzer…just to name a few. I started volunteering on other filmmaker’s projects while learning the process, and fell head over heals with the art. I never could have imagined myself following that path when I was younger, as the concept had never been introduced as an option. A whole new world of ambition, creativity and dreams opened up before my eyes. On top of all that, to actually attend the festival itself and see what others create from around the country, and even the world, almost completely blew my mind. There were people out there actually doing this on a large-scale and being successful at it. This medium brings so many arts together: sound, visual, writing, producing, editing…there are so many moving parts. It’s the ultimate creative challenge. There are also many different types of films: shorts, features, documentaries, animations, etc. Some spark your imagination, others make you think about the world around us. My favorites are usually in the feature documentary category, but I also love a good indie horror film. Rachel Morgan and Kyle McKinnon do such an amazing job each year programming the festival and offering a variety of films for almost any taste. If you’ve never been, and you live in the city, I hope you make 2012 the year you decide to change that. Get your tickets here!
The festival is now run by Chloe Collins, who performs nothing short of miracles to make the annual magic happen. The current team is pretty spot on, and just thinking about this year’s event makes me burst with excitement. If you do attend, please try to make our screening for Crush, a short film directed by myself and Rebecca Pugh. It will be showing at 10:30 Saturday evening at the Alabama School of Fine Arts along with some other great Alabama shorts. We hope to see you there, and if you do come, please look for me and say hello!
I will leave on this final note: Thank you Alan Hunter for all of your service to a festival I love so much. I will never forget the special memories I got to share with you at various points, especially in 2006 for Piece of Cake. Your dedication is contagious.