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Sidewalk Films: Tell Me What's Real

For two people whose first marriages imploded rather messily, hitting the fifteen year mark felt like a real milestone.  It made us happy.

We generally celebrate our anniversary at least twice -- once at the Welcome Reception of the annual MCMLA conference, whenever that happens to be, and once on the actual date.  (In the fifteen years since we got married at that reception, I don't recall that the two dates have ever exactly coincided.)  Given our typical fall travel schedule, as often as not we'll be out of town on the calendar date.  But Lynn always has our wedding champagne flutes in their travel case and we always have a fine time.

This year, the calendar angels were working in our favor.    We were in town, and the annual Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival was scheduled for the same weekend.  One other year we managed to get down for a day of the festival, but this was the first time we'd be able to go to the whole thing.  So I booked us into the Tutwiler Hotel and we made a celebration of it.

The venues for the films are all within easy walking distance of each other, so with a little ingenuity and careful scheduling, you can get to quite a few.  And we did.  We only saw one that we thought was pretty awful -- I won't mention it by name (bless it's heart).   We saw a couple that were stunning -- Marwencol was clearly a highpoint for me.  Lynn saw Mars without me and told me that I'd love it.  We were both touched and delighted by The Happy Poet.  There were others that were quite fine.

But for pure fun and silliness, the favorite was Americatown.  It's fast, it's funny, it's shot on location all across the country, and it's got just enough of a touch of seriousness to leaven all of that silliness.   It was joy to watch.

As someone who actually knows very little about film, one of my favorite things about the festival is that there is almost always someone associated with the film attending, and they'll do a bit of Q&A with the audience after the screening.  I learned quite a bit from those.  My very favorite Q&A moment, though, came after Americatown.   Cory Howard, who plays Roosevelt Microsoft, took a question from a very young movie fan.  The exchange went like this:


Very young kid (6?7?):  All those places that you went – was that all real or was it fake?

CH: Yeah, it was all real, man.  Yeah, we went to all of those places…

VYK:  But that… when you fell through that trap door in the sand….?

CH: (looks stricken)  Oh, man!    You’re so young….  I hate to do this…  (covers eyes briefly with forearm)  But that…  Well – look – you’re going to see a lot of movies from here on out, and I’ve got to be honest…  It’s ALL fake.  But there’s lots of real stuff out there, too!  You gotta get into that – there’s the trees & hills…  and, um, there’s Santa Claus…  and there’s, oh yeah, there’s insects, man!  Get into insects, they are so amazing!

VYK: (inaudible)

CH:  What’s that?  (puts hand to ear)

VYK:  There’s SpongeBob!

CH:  Yeah!  There’s SpongeBob!  He’s real.  He’s hard to find, down there on the bottom of the ocean, though.  But yeah….


Reality is where you find it.  We found quite a bit of it in downtown Birmingham that weekend.




Love that line "reality is where you find it". I miss the downtown Birmingham of my youth and memories. Sounds like it is doing okay.

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