Wade on Birmingham

EXCLUSIVE: Sidewalk Film Festival moves to August for 2011


Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, Alabama Theatre

Festival plus fund-raisers help organization break even for 2010

Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival has announced dates for 2011 for the annual downtown film event, but it’s not late in September. The event is scheduled for Aug. 26-28, the first time the festival has been held outside of September since the inaugural outing in 1999.

Wade on Birmingham - Sidewalk Moving Picture FestivalDates for the Birmingham Shout gay/lesbian film festival have not been announced. Shout and Sidewalk were combined in September for one festival for the first time.

Executive director Chloe Collins said she and board members held discussions and focus groups with attendees, peers, colleagues and supporters about Sidewalk. Those talks determined that late September had a large number of competitors to Sidewalk, including the Jewish High Holidays and college football.

Even competing film festivals such as Austin’s Fantastic Fest were considered competitors for a limited number of jurors in the awards selection process.

Late August became the new event date, especially after determining that fewer film festivals are scheduled at that time and more potential attendees would be available.

Dates have already been reserved at key venues such as the Alabama Theatre, Carver Theatre and Alabama Power headquarters.

With the new timeline, the festival will start its call for entries on Wednesday and extend the submission period by 2 weeks.

Collins said that the board was in discussion over Shout, but did not indicate when an announcement would be made.

Balanced budget

The 2010 festival in September pulled in $65,000 in ticket sales, about even with 2009, according to Collins. That sales figure represents the combined revenue of both Sidewalk and Shout.

Attendance for 2010 also remained even with 2009, determined by ticket sales, free passes, venue attendance counts and ballots.

Two fund-raisers have helped the Alabama Moving Image Association, the nonprofit group that puts on both events, break even for 2010. Earlier this month, a raffle netted $12,000; the winner’s name has not been released. And in August, a 2-week campaign earned $6,000, with an original goal of $10,000.

Collins said that if the 2011 budget is approved and remains on track, the organization’s outstanding debt would be paid off by the end of that year. She added that if 2010 could end with a profit, albeit a small one. At this time in 2009, the group was $20,000 in the black.

Sidewalk 2011 could see some other changes. Collins said some options could be to drop a venue to save money, or create a gated festival with a smaller footprint to streamline entry and ticket sales. However, no plans have been finalized to date.

Meanwhile, Sidewalk will close the year with another monthly Salon Dec. 7 at Rojo on Southside. The 7 p.m. event will feature a screening of Media That Matters docs from Arts Engine, along with a video chat with one of the filmmakers.

Photo: Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival

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