Wade on Birmingham

EXCLUSIVE: Sidewalk loses second director in two years


Catherine Pfitzer - Sidewalk Moving Picture FestivalBarely two years on the job, executive director Catherine Pfitzer is out at Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. She was fired Wednesday, according to an e-mail sent by board president Alan Hunter.

Pfitzer had been promoted from program director to festival head in February 2007, following the departure of previous executive director and co-founder Erik Jambor. He resigned in November 2006 citing differences with the board over the festival’s direction and his role in it.

Hunter announced the change in an e-mail to festival staffers and volunteers. While he praises Pfitzer’s work, he says the board felt she wasn’t the correct choice for the future:

“After much deliberation we decided we needed to go in a new direction for the sake of the AMIA down the road. We wish Catherine all the best, and we are grateful for her hard work over the last several and sometimes difficult transitional years. She stepped up when times were shaky and helped get us back on our feet. But as is sometimes the case, the people who get the ball rolling or work hard during shifting times aren’t always the right fit for the future.

That said, we are optimistic about the future and will be on the hunt for a new Executive Director almost immediately. We hope this person exists in our area, but we want to make sure the rest of the country knows we’re searching.”

When asked by e-mail to explain what had happened, Pfitzer replied:

“Wish I could. Trying to figure that out myself.”

The festival, which started in 1999, runs for three days each September.

Update: Pfitzer sent out an e-mail on Feb. 15, thanking supporters. An excerpt:

My time with the festival has been truly amazing: chock full of challenges and triumphs, of high highs and low lows. The intrinsic satisfaction I’ve enjoyed by being a part of Sidewalk and all things AMIA over the past six years can’t be measured — from providing opportunities for filmmakers, to supplying access to independent films to a hungry audience, and most of all contributing to efforts that make Birmingham a better city.

It’s because of these reasons that I encourage you to continue to support Sidewalk, Birmingham Shout and all AMIA programs, now more than ever. Not simply because the organization is enduring another challenging transition, but because these are difficult times for all of us, and during times like these it is art and entertainment that allows us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get us up and running again.

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More Sidewalk coverage.

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