Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival

I was off Friday, so I started driving toward Montgomery to meet Chris at about 10 a.m. I arrived at about 1:30 or so, and we took off toward Birmingham. The weather was gorgeous, a perfect driving day, and we had wonderful conversations along the way. He played tour guide as he drove us through some areas that were unfamiliar to me. It was nice to have something interesting to look at while driving. We got to Birmingham at about 4 p.m. and checked into the historic Redmont Hotel. It's the oldest hotel in the city, and it was really quite nice. The Redmont was a host hotel for the film festival, so it was right in the middle of all the action. We got settled, changed clothes, and met up with James, who shared a dorm with Chris in college. He lives in Birmingham, in the coolest loft I've ever seen. We had dinner at this little Mexican place that is actually in a converted fast food restaurant. I think it was a McDonalds. The food was great and the margaritas were cheap, so it was a good time! The opening night film was The Ten. This movie was very funny and strange. We laughed pretty much nonstop, although that might have had more to do with the margaritas than the movie, but I'm pretty sure the movie had something to do with it. After the movie, we went out with James and some of his friends. It was fun getting to know new people and enjoying the "city life." When you live in a small town, sometimes you forget how cool it is to live in a city where everything is at your fingertips. We walked back to the hotel and went to sleep on the smallest bed known to man (but still extremely comfortable!)

Saturday was our big film day. We went to the end of one block of short films and saw a very funny one called The Caress of the Creature. Very funny. After that, we went to a feature called Great World of Sound, which I really enjoyed. It was a look at the record industry and all the scams that are in place to rip people off by promising them their dreams (for a small percentage of the cost, of course) Having been approached by a "literary agent" who was trying to do the same thing, this film really rang true to me. Of course, in my case I knew enough to check on the "agent" before replying to her (unsolicited) email and found her name on Writer Beware, but some people out there are not as skeptical as I am. So this film, although it was a feature rather than a documentary, still talked about a real issue that is very serious. After that, we saw another feature called Hannah Takes the Stairs. It was... interesting. Actually, I found the process they used to make the film a lot more interesting than the film itself, if that makes any sense. After that, we went to see another block of short films, but these were made by Alabama filmmakers. I always want to catch at least one block of Alabama shorts, simply because I think it's important to support artists from my state. Some of these shorts were really good! I especially enjoyed these: "Lunch," "Cutting Teeth," and "Mr. Extion." I love short films because it takes some talent to make a point or tell a story in such a short time. It's like flash fiction, which is something I've dabbled in but am nowhere near good at yet. Maybe one day... But anway, after seeing the block of shorts, we went to a sandwich/coffee shop and had something to eat before the final feature of the day. And it was the best movie we saw all day, in my opinion. In fact, I believe it was my favorite film of the entire festival. Blood Car is a funny, crazy ride from beginning to end. It's the kind of movie you watch with one hand over your wide-open mouth because you are so shocked at what you're seeing on the screen, but you can't stop laughing. Even when you want to look away, you can't because you know.. you just KNOW something even more insane is about to happen. You wouldn't think a horror/comedy would pack a political punch, but this movie does. One of the great things about this film is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. It pushes (and crosses) every possible boundry, but it does it in such a way that the audiences is too busy laughing to be offended. Of course, I'm sure there are people who would be offended by the content, especially a scene near the end, so I'd say this film is not really for people who are overly sensitive. But seriously, I haven't laughed that long in a very long time. The acting is also wonderful. The man who played Archie, the main character, really played the part with charisma and commitment. He starts out so gentle and good and descended into total madness by the end of the movie. This descent is amazing to watch and really, really hilarious. Kudos to the filmmakers. You were the best of the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in my opinion. I won't go into details about the plot, just in case anyone wants to watch the film, but this is the synopsis from their website:

In the near future gas prices have reached astronomical highs nearing $40 a gallon. One man, Archie Andrews, an environmentalist elementary school teacher, is trying to discover an alternate fuel source. While experimenting with wheat grass, Archie accidentally stumbles upon a solution. That solution turns out to be blood. HUMAN BLOOD!

Yeah. See why you need to watch it? After the feature, we went to a festival party and then out dancing after the party ended. It was great! We ended up back at the hotel at about 4:30 the next morning, but it was totally worth it!

Only two movies on Sunday, but that was okay because my backside was beginning to become numb from all the sitting! Sunday was more of a day of reflection for us, as we watched two films that, while funny and heartwarming in their own way, were also very touching by showing an intimate portrait of people who face discrimination. For the Bible Tells Me So is a documentary following several Christian families and how they dealt with having a homosexual child. The unconditional love these parents have for their children is inspiring and beautiful. Many religious leaders weighed in on the issue, and the families talked about their own journeys to acceptance of the children they love. Most of the parents even became activists against religious people's treatment of homosexuals. It was very moving. Our final film of the weekend was American Fork. This film is sweet, sad, funny, and touching. It is a look into the life of a lonely overweight man that pulls the audience in and makes every single person watching want desperately to see him happy. It was the perfect movie to end our festival experience with, because we wanted to end it on a high note, but also in a way that would make us think, that would make the feeling linger for awhile even after we got home and went back to our lives. It worked, because I'm still thinking about it.

And so this ends another post about the wonderful Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. We are already making plans to attend next year.

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