Your ultimate guide to Sidewalk Film Fest, August 23-29


The movies come to life at Sidewalk Film Festival. Photo via Sidewalk's Facebook
The movies come to life at Sidewalk Film Festival. Photo via Sidewalk’s Facebook

Sidewalk Film Festival returns to the Magic City for its 23rd year on August 23-29. With eight theaters and endless movies, there are countless ways to experience the event. Here’s your guide to Birmingham’s biggest week in film. Tickets available now.

What is Sidewalk Film Festival?

Crowd at Sidewalk Film Festival
We’re only a month away from Birmingham’s biggest week in film! Photo via Sidewalk Film Festival

Sidewalk is Birmingham’s premier film festival. It showcases more than 250 films and welcomes 15,000 film lovers to the Magic City annually. Not only do filmmakers come from across the world to screen their work at the festival, but Sidewalk is also a critical part of Birmingham’s growing art scene.

While Sidewalk hosted their 2020 festival at Grand River Drive-In in Leeds to promote social distancing, this year, the festival is back in Birmingham’s historic theatre district, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m ready to pound the pavement in search of my favorite independent film. 

Tickets for this year’s festival are on sale now. Here’s our guide to Sidewalk’s magic:

Wowing Films

One of the most unique things about Sidewalk is hearing from filmmakers directly. Photo via Sidewalk's Facebook
One of the most unique things about Sidewalk is hearing from filmmakers directly. Photo via Sidewalk’s Facebook

Sidewalk celebrates independent film by spotlighting up-and-coming Alabama and international filmmakers. In fact, many local directors got their start at Sidewalk, like Lauren Musgrove

Sidewalk has already announced its first official film selection for this year, and it’s a great one. Socks on Fire is an artful and heartfelt documentary about a poet’s dead grandmother from Hokes Bluff, Alabama. Amidst this grief, the poet’s homophobic aunt and drag queen uncle battle it out over their mother’s estate. It’s sure to be a nostalgic and thought-provoking watch. 

The rest of Sidewalk’s lineup will be announced in Mid-July—stay tuned!

Historic Theatres

Lyric Theatre
The Lyric Theatre hosts film screenings throughout Sidewalk weekend. Photo via Sidewalk’s Facebook

One of the most unique things about Sidewalk is their location. Right in the heart of downtown Birmingham, the historic theatre district shows off the best of the Magic City. This year, Sidewalk is screening films at eight locations:

  • Sidewalk Cinema
  • Alabama Theatre
  • The Lyric Theatre
  • First Church Birmingham
  • Alabama School of Fine Arts (Dorothy Jemison Day Theater, Recital Hall and Lecture Hall)
  • Steiner Auditorium at the Birmingham Museum of Art
  • Boutwell Auditorium

Fun-Filled After Parties

The afterparty at Sidewalk
Once the silver screen goes up, the party’s just getting started at Sidewalk. Photo via Sidewalk’s Facebook

Sidewalk is a celebration of film and the unique people who love it. The festival is a great way to meet and network with like-minded creatives. To encourage these new friendships, Sidewalk hosts three parties throughout the weekend:

Opening night happy hour

When: Friday, August 27 | 5PM-7PM

Where: In front of the Alabama Theatre on 3rd Avenue North

Restrictions: Free and unticketed.

Opening night after party

When: Friday, August 28 | 10PM-1AM
Where: 1800 block of 3rd Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35204
Restrictions: Anyone with a weekend pass or a lanyard can attend.

Saturday night after party

When: Saturday, August 27 | 10 PM-1AM
Where: Boutwell Auditorium
Restrictions: Accessible to anyone with a Saturday night party pass. The pass is $25 and includes 2 drinks.

A weekend pass for Sidewalk 2021 is $75. Prices will go up on July 15—buy yours now.

Sidewalk 2021 Schedule

Sidewalk welcomes Sundance Film Festival
Sidewalk Cinema at the Pizitz. Photo by Matthew Niblett

Spotlight Screenings – Monday-Thursday, August 23-26

  • Showing one film per night at the Sidewalk Cinema/lower level of The Pizitz.

Friday 8/27

  • Opening Night Film: 7-10PM at the Alabama Theatre
  • Opening Night After Party: 10PM-1AM at Birmingham’s 1800 block on 3rd Avenue

Saturday 8/28

  • Film Screenings: All venues 10AM-1AM
  • VIP Lounge (lanyards only): Noon-6PM at the Northwest corner of The Pizitz
  • Saturday Night Party (ticketed): 10PM-1AM (Location TBD)

Sunday 8/29

  • Film Screenings: All venues 10AM-10PM
  • VIP Lounge (lanyards only): Noon-6AM at the Northwest corner of The Pizitz
  • Awards Show: 9-10:30PM at The Lyric Theatre

Ready to attend the 2021 Sidewalk Film Festival? Buy your tickets now.

To stay in the know on all things Sidewalk Film Festival, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Libby Foster
Libby Foster
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