Sidewalk Film Festival’s E-Series Promotes Dialogue about Birmingham

By on April 1, 2014

In case you haven’t heard, Birmingham is becoming one of America’s most promising cities. From revitalization of formerly glorious locales to the economic uptick, we as Birminghamians have much to be proud of and, in my opinion, we should support all the things that are helping our city expand, excite, and blossom.

Film is one of those of things. Since 1999, the staff at Sidewalk Film Festival has provided the south with a creative outlet and discussion forum. Through their efforts, Sidewalk has become a massively successful film festival.

Since its humble beginnings, Sidewalk has expanded its operations beyond the weekend festival, and now offers Birminghamians year-around film screenings and events. I sat down with Josh Vasa, Operations and Productions manager at Sidewalk, to talk about what is happening right now and how students can get involved:

Salons at Rojo: Each month Sidewalk offers up-and-coming film makers and film enthusiasts an opportunity to discuss and mingle. Each salon features a speaker who discusses one aspect or issue of filmmaking—topics range from financing your film to the endless possibilities of costume make-up. Salons take place at Rojo in Highland Park, networking begins at 6 p.m., and the speaker and discussion portion at 7 p.m.

Host Scrambles: Twice a year, Sidewalk hosts a 48-hour film making competition. The last one took place in February and was Vulcan-themed, while the next topic has yet to be released. The best way to find out about the Scrambles is through Sidewalk Film Festival Facebook page or website.

Tech and Technique: These are hands-on workshops intended to help filmmakers learn about the more technical sides of filmmaking. The next one will take place on May 1, and will feature producer Melodie Sisk. To register, visit

E-Series: Vasa described the E-Series as a sort of “book club, minus the book and plus a film.” It is a film screening on a relevant topic to the city of Birmingham, followed by a discussion between moderators, panelists, and the audience.  The E in E-series denotes the four areas into which a featured film may fall: Economic Development, Environment, Equality, and Education. Last month concluded the Economic portion of the E-Series, while next month commences the Environment portion with a film titled “The Human Scale,” a documentary examining the sociological and psychological impacts of living in an urban environment. “The Human Scale” will be screened at 6 p.m. Monday, April 14, at the Red Mountain Theater Company.

Vasa especially encourages students to check out the E-Series. The films chosen are intended to strike a chord with their audience and their topics often stimulate discussion between people of different backgrounds and generations. He believes in the series’ power to not only promote dialogue, but also to motivate action.

“We don’t want it to just be a discussion; we always try to end on what a student or young professional or retiree or a skateboarder can do to better the city. People are highly affected by the E-Series; they befriend each other and carry the conversation forward” said Vasa.

Birmingham has grown and flourished in since 1999 and Vasa attributes some of the progress to the cultural community in Birmingham. Film and theater are outlets of expression, and when those outlets speak to us about our own cities and our own problems, we begin to ask questions and take actions. For more information on Sidewalk Film festival or any of the sidewalk events, check out the Facebook Page or website,

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