Sidewalk articleIllustration by Baili Bigham and Sarah FaulknerBaili Bigham - Head Entertainment Columnist

One of Birmingham’s proudest events, the Sidewalk Film Festival, will be returning once again on August 26-28 in the downtown Birmingham Theatre District.

This festival is put on by Alabama Moving Image Association, which is a non-profit organization that pushes filmmaking in Alabama. AMIA has quite the resume, such as a sister festival to Sidewalk called SHOUT LGBTQ Film Festival, Alabama’s first and only film festival made by and about the LGBTQ community. The organization also hosts Sidewalk Sidewrite, a screenplay writing competition, as well as many other creative events to encourage filmmakers and writers alike to continue their journey.

Since 1999, Sidewalk Film Festival has put Birmingham on the map for one of the nation’s top film festivals. Since its conception, it has made the list for MovieMaker Magazine’s “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World,” for the last two years and Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Festivals for the Rest of Us.”

Some of UAB’s own are making a presence at the festival as featured filmmakers. Recent graduates including Jessica Chriesman and her film, “Self Portrait,” a reflective film made in the Michele Forman and Kerry Madden-Lunsford’s Memoir in Writing and Filmmaking course, and Kayla Gladney with her film “Stay the Course,” a short film about Montgomery native Torian Hamilton,will be just a couple of locals to keep any eye out for.

Both of the former Blazers attributed much of their passion for filmmaking to their education.

“During my time in the film program at UAB I came to realize that filmmaking allows you to be both logical and creative which is a perfect match for me,” said Chriesman, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Art in Filmmaking.

Other films showing at the festival include “Swiss Army Man,” a dark comedy featuring Daniel Radcliffe, and “Other People,” which stars Jesse Plemons, who played Todd Alquist in the hit TV series, “Breaking Bad.”

The schedule for the weekend allows you an opportunity to roam given the various options and activities. While Friday is the opening night, Saturday and Sunday are the days you won’t want to miss. Saturday begins at 10 a.m. and is filled with a whole day’s worth of food, music, films, art and beer to keep you entertained at all times. Sunday’s schedule looks similar to Saturday’s, with the addition of the awards show to put a closing to the weekend’s festivities.

While tickets run steep, costing $70 for weekend passes and $30 for single day passes, it is well worth the splurge if you want to experience one of the city’s most nationally recognized events of the year. If that price just won’t fit your budget, consider extending your helping hand as a volunteer. According to their website, depending on how many shifts you work, you could potentially receive all access credentials and enjoy an entirely free weekend of film fest fun. Some duties are already filled but to sign up, visit

Be sure to look out for Sidewalk Central, which is an event partnership with the Greater Birmingham Street Food Coalition, REV Birmingham and Birmingham Mountain Radio giving a singular location for food, fun and music all in one place. There will be bands performing throughout the entire weekend, and so many food truck options you’ll be wanting to try them all! For you thirsty 21-and-ups, Black Forty Brewing Co. will be ready to wet your whistle as well.

A full schedule of weekend’s events can be accessed at and the map can be accessed at