Established in 1999 as the flagship program of the Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema, Sidewalk Film Festival has perfected its own personal trifecta of quality film programming, filmmaker networking, and pure fun. Repeatedly recognized by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the Top 25 Festivals in the World and by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 10 Festivals for the Rest of Us, Sidewalk annually brings over 350 films to The Magic City. Low-priced passes, a concentrated footprint, and Southern Hospitality encourage filmmakers and attendees alike to connect during the festival week.

Among the wild uncertainty of this past year, Sidewalk made the active decision to host a scaled-down, socially-distanced, 100% drive-in version of the festival at the Grand River Drive-In in Leeds, AL. Despite the successes of this brand new venture, it is our hope and priority to safely return to the beloved historical theater district in downtown Birmingham, Alabama that has been the home of Sidewalk for the past 22 years. As we gear up for the 23rd Annual festival in August 2021, the Sidewalk team continues to monitor both state and local guidelines pertaining to large events with the full intention of hosting as "normal" a festival as possible.

Official 2020 Festival Recap Video here: youtu.be/4U4yWP-QC1U

Sidewalk actively strives to bring a variety of film to its audience. To that end, we are thrilled to highlight civil and social issues in our Life & Liberty track, diversity-related topics and black filmmakers in our Black Lens track, LGBTQ filmmakers and content with our SHOUT track, and family-friendly programming with our Family Festival track. As an Alabama festival in a city with multiple universities, we also spotlight our Alabama filmmakers and our student filmmakers.

Sidewalk is pleased to announce the return of our Sidewrite Competition for 2021. With categories for feature length screenplays, short screenplays, and Alabama screenplays, Sidewalk is looking for innovative and exciting scripts to recognize. In addition to cash prizes, winners are offered table read opportunities during the festival weekend and are able to apply for travel assistance to attend. Winning scripts are announced approximately one month prior to the festival event date. Sidewalk also offers a screenplay category that provides feedback on any submitted screenplay. Please use the Screenplay + Feedback category for this option.

Sidewalk is also pleased to partner with Vermont-based non-profit Stowe Story Labs (stowestorylabs.org) to offer the third annual Sidewalk/Stowe Narrative Lab from August 25-28 during the 23rd Annual Sidewalk Film Festival. This will be a remote program, making it easily accessible to all. Application season is now open for all 2021 Stowe Story Labs programming. Apply for the 2021 Sidewalk Narrative Lab at stowestorylabs.submittable.com/submit.

Now in their 9th year, Stowe Story Labs brings screenwriters, filmmakers, and creative producers together with seasoned industry professionals through intensive labs and expansive retreats to help get projects made and seen. This four-day remote Sidewalk Lab is an intensive program to introduce writers to key considerations when building work for the big or small screen. The aim of this Narrative Lab is to prepare participants to best place themselves and their projects in the film industry in partnership with our diverse, electric film festival in the South.

Praise for Sidewalk:

MovieMaker Magazine: "Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" (2017, 2016)
The Washington Post: "Summer Preview" film festival (2015)
MovieMaker magazine: “The 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” (2015, 2014)
USA TODAY: "One of the Top 10 Places for a Fabulous Film Festival” (2013)
TIME Magazine: "Top 10 Festivals for the Rest of Us" (2006)

JURY AND PROGRAMMER'S AWARDS
Jambor-Franklin Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature $1,000
Best Documentary Feature $1,000
Best Narrative Short $500
Best Documentary Short $500
Best Animated Short $250
Kathryn Tucker Windham Storytelling Award (Shorts) $250
Best Student Film $250
Best Family Film $250
Alan Hunter Best Alabama Film $500
Best SHOUT Feature $500
Best SHOUT Short $250
Feature Programmers' Award $500
Short Programmers' Award $250
Best Life & Liberty Film $250
Best Black Lens Film $250

AUDIENCE AWARDS
Best Narrative Feature $250
Best Documentary Feature $250
Best Narrative Short $150
Best Documentary Short $150
Best Shout Film (Feature or Short) $250
Best Alabama Film (Feature or Short) $250
Best Black Lens Film $250

SCREENPLAY AWARDS
Best Feature Screenplay $500
Best Short Screenplay $250
Best Alabama Screenplay $250

*The jury, at their discretion, may choose to award a special jury prize, honorable mention, etc. These prizes/mentions DO NOT include either a cash award, a physical award (trophy, plaque, etc), or prizewinner's laurels.

ELIGIBILITY
Entrants warrant that they have the legal right to submit the work to Sidewalk, that all statements made in this application are true and accurate, and that all necessary rights and clearances have been secured to screen the work at the festival. Due to potential copyright issues, Sidewalk will be unable to consider fan fiction/fan films without express written permission from the primary copyright holder. Sidewalk reserves the right to determine the final eligibility of any work submitted. Eligible works must have been completed after January 1, 2020.

Exhibiting films publicly in the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan Area prior to or within one week after the 2021 festival dates will prevent your film from competing in the 2021 Sidewalk Film Festival and may prevent the film from being accepted to the Festival. This includes projects available on the web. Work accepted to screen at the Festival will be categorized in competitive and non-competitive categories at the sole discretion of Sidewalk. If your submission will be available through a video on demand (VOD) or pay-per-view (PPV) service of any kind, on or before August 23, 2021, please indicate such when entering. The availability of your film prior to August 23, 2021, through such a service will make the film ineligible for competition and may or may not, prevent the film from being programmed. Availability through such a service will be considered during the programming process and may impact programming decisions. However, decisions regarding programming films that have been screened elsewhere and/or are available through a video on demand service, pay-per-view service and/or any other service, venue, channel, theater or otherwise are solely up to the Sidewalk Film Festival staff.

EXHIBITION AGREEMENT & PRINT TRAFFIC
Submission to the Sidewalk Film Festival ("Sidewalk") constitutes an agreement with all festival terms and conditions, and permission to exhibit the work during the festival if selected. Sidewalk DOES NOT provide screening fees to submitted films.

If a film is accepted, entrant agrees to ship exhibition materials to the festival at their own expense, to arrive at the Sidewalk office by August 9, 2021. Sidewalk can only provide return shipping via ground delivery within the continental United States. Although every possible care will be taken with exhibition material in our possession, neither Sidewalk nor the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, Inc. accepts responsibility for loss or damage. Entry fees are non-refundable.

ALABAMA DISCOUNT

ALABAMA21: $5 discount for Alabama-produced films or screenplays. Alabama Productions include films that have been fully or partially filmed and/or produced in the state of Alabama. Partial Alabama productions must include at least 1 scene filmed in Alabama and/or at least 20% of the total budget spent in the state of Alabama. Alternatively a film that has the participation of at least 1 above the line filmmaker (Director, Writer, Producer, Editor, Actor in a starring role) that currently lives in the state of Alabama and/or is an Alabama native can be considered an Alabama film. Alabama scripts include screenplays where a credited screenwriter that currently lives in the state of Alabama and/or is an Alabama native. If you misuse this code, you will be automatically disqualified without refund.

All questions regarding discount codes and other waiver requests should be directed to Rachel Morgan at rachel@sidewalkfest.com.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • Nafi Ayvaci

    What's there to say? Sidwalk Film is amazing! Kiwi Lanier, the Education/Outreach Coordinator, did an extraordinary job keeping in touch with us, the Sidewrite Screenplay Competition finalists, throughout what must've been a hectic schedule due to pandemic. Even though I couldn't attend to the drive-in screenings in person, I followed every bit of news through the festival's social media accounts. I've seen photos of people tricking out their cars with comfortable pillows and blankets to enjoy festival films, with my envious eyes. I'm sure it must've been an amazing experience that was much needed by film-lovers who missed going to the theaters for the first half of 2020 AD.

    Thank you Kiwi and thank you Sidewalk for the screenwriting recognition, your genuine concern for our health and safety, and your everlasting hospitality. I hope to return to Sidewalk as soon as possible, whether it's virtual, drive-in, or in person!

    October 2020
  • Matthew Brdlik

    I firmly believe that this was the best festival in the world to be a part of during the covid madness. They have a great reputation for a reason. Excellent coordination and execution. I can't wait to go back! :)

    September 2020
  • Holly Ellis

    Sidewalk's staff is second-to-none. In the craziness of 2020, they found a creative way to share the films that was both Covid-safe and incredibly fun. Thank you so much for selecting The Immortal Jellyfish and honoring us as Best Narrative Feature. Hope to join you again soon!

    September 2020
  • Brian Lonano

    Always a pleasure to be part of the Sidewalk Film Festival. They have a great staff and great programming.

    September 2020
  • Sonya Mitchell

    Hat's off to the Sidewalk Film Festival for hosting a safe, fun and awesome first time ever drive-in film festival!! Congratulations and continued Blessings!!!
    Sonya 'Sam' Mitchell, filmmaker

    September 2020