4 Birmingham artists are stars at Sidewalk 2021—learn more

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Sidewalk supports local artists of all backgrounds. Photo via Sidewalk Film Festival
Sidewalk supports local artists of all backgrounds. Photo via Sidewalk Film Festival

Sidewalk 2021 is just around the corner. The annual celebration of Birmingham’s thriving arts scene begins on Monday, August 23. This year, artists from throughout The Magic City will become stars on the silver screen during the week-long film festival. Keep reading to meet four Birmingham artists who are featured in Sidewalk this year. Buy your tickets here.

Climbing meets classical cello in Alabama Climbs

Alabama Symphony Orchestra cellist Hellen Weberpal combines music, climbing and film in Alabama Clims. Photo via John Manzelli
Alabama Symphony Orchestra cellist Hellen Weberpal combines music, climbing and film in Alabama Clims. Photo via John Manzelli

Alabama Climbs is a celebration of our state’s art and natural beauty. The film follows Alabama Symphony Orchestra cellist and rock climber Hellen Weberpal.

Like many artists, Weberpal needed a way to exhibit her art publicly during the pandemic. To achieve this, Weberpal connected the beauty of Alabama to her compositions.

Alabama Symphony Orchestra cellist and climber composed a piece that accompanies her every movement. Photo via John Manzelli
Alabama Symphony Orchestra cellist and climber composed a piece that accompanies her every movement. Photo via John Manzelli

Weberpal went out and climbed various boulders in Alabama, filming her movements. Using this footage, she created a piece of music based on the exact steps she took to climb each boulder. 

John Manzelli is the Executive Producer of Alabama Climbs. He thinks Sidewalk is a critical outlet for performing artists during the pandemic.

Alabama Climbs will showcase local artistry and nature at Sidewalk. Photo via John Manzelli
Alabama Climbs will showcase local artistry and nature at Sidewalk. Photo via John Manzelli

“Sidewalk has given us an outlet to share our art and turn theatre into film. Sidewalk is promoting these local artists and giving them a chance to show their work on a larger scale, and I think it’s going to be a celebration for us. We’re very excited to share our work with a live audience that’s been missing for so long. ”

John Manzelli, Executive Producer, Alabama Climbs and Graffica

Alabama Climbs will screen at 10:20PM on Friday, August 27 at the Boutwell Auditorium. Buy Sidewalk 2021 tickets today to support local films.

Yogi Dada tells her story in Graffica

Yogi Dada
Graffica tells the story of Birmingham-based artist Yogi Dada. Photo via John Manzelli

Yogi Dada is a Birmingham-based visual artist, poet and vocalist. In her film Graffica, which will screen at Sidewalk 2021, she creates a visual representation of her artistic journey.

“Graffica, more than my style, is my story. It’s a journey from a little black girl in upstate New York who lives in a predominately white area to today. There was not a lot of imagery that looks like me to help me come into my identity as an artist. This isn’t about color or gender, but my humanity.”

Yogi Dada, artist, creator of Graffica

The black and white production integrates visual art, poetry, rap and dance into one film. Yogi Dada created 15 original backdrops for the piece. She also wrote poetry and raps to tell her unique and inspirational story.

Most of Graffica was improvised on the day of its recording last fall. It was recorded at the Dorothy Jemison Day Theater, and many local artists collaborated in the process.

Yogi Dada is a unique and talented artist. Photo via John Manzelli
Yogi Dada is a unique and talented artist. Photo via John Manzelli

Local choreographer Germaul Barnes improvised a dance during Graffica, while the Sahib On Ko Djony drum group provided an improvised rhythm for the film.

Yogi Dada said that Sidewalk 2021‘s selection of Graffica meant a lot to all the artists involved.

“It’s a sweet moment of being embraced by your community. As a local artist, a lot of times you may not feel like you’re getting support at home. It’s like a hug from the community.”

Yogi Dada, artist, Director, Graffica

Graffica will screen at 5:10PM on Saturday, August 27 at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

ASFA students bring quarantine down to Earth

A still from the student-created film Terra. Photo via Kelan Millcan
A still from the student-created film Terra. Photo via Kelan Millican

Sidewalk supports local filmmakers of all ages. For Sidewalk 2021, the festival challenged young filmmakers to document their experience in quarantine as a part of the COVID Teen Video Challenge.

Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) seniors Miriam Anderson and Kelan Millican created the short film Terra for the COVID Teen Video Challenge. It’s the first film the two have completed, and it will be screened at Sidewalk 2021.

Miriam Anderson directed Terra. Photo via Kelan Millican
Recent ASFA grad Miriam Anderson directed Terra. Photo via Kelan Millican

Terra is an expressionist film that follows one teen girl’s experience during quarantine. During the pandemic, the character experiences pressure to remain productive despite emotional stress. There’s a buildup of tension throughout the film until the girl finally breaks away from societal expectations.

Terra‘s main character finds her escape through nature. The film culminates with her doing an Indian dance routine at Ruffner Mountain. This scene is an expression of freedom from stress-inducing pressures.

Kelan Millcan, a recent ASFA graduate, was the Director of Photography for Terra. Photo via Kelan Millcan
Kelan Millican, a recent ASFA graduate, was the Director of Photography for Terra. Photo via Kelan Millican

By supporting young filmmakers, Sidewalk nurtures the next generation of Alabama artists.

“I think a lot of filmmakers need to be supported because it is an industry about who you know and those kinds of connections. It’s important to support young filmmakers and give them a place to start from. Sidewalk’s done a great job of that.”

Kelan Millican, Director of Photography, Terra

Buy Sidewalk tickets today to support promising young filmmakers.

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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