The 2019 Sidewalk Film Festival is here. 5 reasons opening night is gonna rock. Use code:BhamNow15

Alabama Theatre Sidewalk Film Festival
Moviegoers at the Alabama Theatre. Photo from Sidewalk Film Festival via Facebook

I’m embarrassed to admit that since I came back to Birmingham in 2004, I’ve actually only been to Sidewalk once, and for just a little snippet. That’s about to change this Friday night, though, with a trip to Opening Night.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to the most, plus how you, too, can join in the Sidewalk Festival fun. Bonus! You can save on your ticket by using super secret code: BhamNow15

1—The creative vibe at Sidewalk is like nothing else in Birmingham

Lyric and Alabama Theatres are lit.
The Lyric and the Alabama Theatres are lit. Photo from Sidewalk Film Festival via Facebook

If you take a look through the first few pages of the Sidewalk Film Festival program booklet, you notice a few things right off the bat:


  • Sidewalk is full of Birmingham love, from the founders to the donors to loads of creative talent.
  • TIME Magazine listed it as one of the “Top 10 Film Festivals for the Rest of Us.”
  • You’ll find stories at Sidewalk that you won’t find in other places locally. Film is such a powerful medium for giving a window into other people’s experiences in a way that nothing else can.
  • There is a ridiculous amount of talent from within and outside of Birmingham that gathers for the festival, and for a number of creator workshops and events throughout the festival and the year.

The bottom line is that interesting things are bound to happen when that many creative people gather in one place.

2—The Alabama Theatre is fantastic

The Mighty Wurlitzer at the Alabama Theatre, home of the Opening Night of Sidewalk Film Festival
The Mighty Wurlitzer at The Alabama Theatre. Photo from The Alabama Theatre via Facebook

I have no idea if they actually bring out The Mighty Wurlitzer for the festival. In any case, it’s always good to be at The Alabama Theatre, which is less than a decade from its 100th birthday.

3—The 2019 Sidewalk Film Festival’s opening night film “I Want My MTV” should be a fun throwback to the station that brought the world music television

I Want My MTV is the opening night doc for Sidewalk 2019.
This will be the opening night film, directed by Tyler Measom & Patrick Waldrop. Photo from Sidewalk Film Festival via Facebook

Birmingham’s Alan Hunter was one of the very first crop of MTV VJs when the station launched on August 1, 1981. Back then they played a lot of Journey, Blue Oyster Cult and David Bowie videos, and we all loved them. It’ll be fun to watch this film that explores the pre-MTV world and how it changed everything.


The original MTV VJs.
Yeah, we know, the 80s hair. Alan Hunter’s on the right. Photo from The Original MTV VJs via Facebook

4—I hear the afterparty is a lot of fun

Afterparty at Sidewalk
Partying at Sidewalk is a thing. Photo from Sidewalk Film Festival via Facebook

Friday night’s afterparty is open to everyone who has an opening night pass, a weekend pass, or a lanyard. If you don’t know what a lanyard is, just get yourself an opening night pass or a weekend pass and you’ll be golden.

It’s on 3rd Avenue North between 18th and 19th Streets between 9PM-1AM.

5—It’ll be great to hear about everybody else’s experiences of the weekend

Over 300 films at Sidewalk
Yes, there are over 300 films throughout the festival. Graphic via Sidewalk Film Festival via Facebook

With more than 300 films at seven venues, plus three other venues where things are happening, it is completely impossible for one person to see everything. Which is why it’s good to have friends. And social media.


I know folks who are involved at a bunch of different levels, so it’ll be fun to compare notes with them IRL afterwards, or to keep up with what they’re doing on social media.


If you want to get in on the 2019 Sidewalk Film Festival fun, here are some ways you can plug in:

Remember to use the super-secret code: BhamNow15 to save!


Now tell us, Birmingham, what are you most looking forward to at the 2019 Sidewalk Film Festival?

Author: Sharron Mendel Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference