Six UA filmmakers are featured at Sidewalk Film Festival

Six+UA+filmmakers+are+featured+at+Sidewalk+Film+Festival

The historic Alabama Theater is one of several venues where the Sidewalk Film Festival takes place. Photo Courtesy of Lauren Musgrove

Sam West

Six films made by University of Alabama students and alumni were shown at Sidewalk this year, in a variety of venues in downtown Birmingham’s 
revitalized theater district. Many of these directors have since graduated and gone on to careers in 
Los Angeles.

“On the Horizon”

A documentary short focusing on the lack of solar power in Alabama, “On the Horizon” was directed by UA alumna, Lauren Musgrove. The director found that it was difficult for businesses and people in Alabama to transition to using alternative energy sources because of legislation taxing solar panels.

“I introduce solar power, and explain how it works, and why it works in Alabama, and the benefits and stuff, and then bring up some of the 
barriers,” Musgrove said.

The film was made through a fellowship by the Southern Environmental Law Center. In the documentary, Musgrove interviewed a couple in Birmingham who installed solar panels on their roof, students in the renewable energy program at Calhoun Community College, the director of the Alabama Energy Council, and many other activists and citizens.

Musgrove said that in “On the Horizon,” she acted as an invisible presence rather than actively commenting on the events. However, she shot, directed and edited the picture herself, giving her complete control over its final appearance.

“I feel like a lot of my input comes in what I chose to keep in the film and how I chose to edit it, and certain shots I chose to get and stuff like that,” Musgrove said. “If someone else was to take on this film or even someone else was to edit it, it would have been very, very different.”

Since graduating, Musgrove has started working for Time, Inc.‘s film team in Birmingham.

“Blackface”

Last year, student Shanrica Evans created the short film “Blackface” as an independent project with the help of a successful GoFundMe campaign. The short deals with race relations, social justice and police brutality.

“Subtle Adulthood with Red and Bangs Episode 2: Insta-scam”

Last year, students, Christina Irion and Abby Armstrong, created and starred in “Subtle Adulthood with Red and Bangs,” a web series about college life, technology and the struggles of the Millennial generation. Episode two of their show, “Insta-scam,” will screen at Sidewalk alongside other short films.

“We knew they had been showing lot of great films in the past couple of years, and we wanted to try out, too,” Irion said. “We wanted to be able to spread our audience a little bit by having the recognition that we had been accepted to the film festival.”

“Subtle Adulthood” was made independently of class last year, and Irion described the process as stressful but rewarding. Irion is now in Los Angeles pursuing a film career, as are some of the other crew members. Because of this, she describes a second season of the show as impossible. However, fans were able to see “Subtle Adulthood” on the silver screen for the first time during a block of other local short films.

“Samantha Throws a Party”

The winner of numerous awards at Campus Movie Fest, “Samantha Throws a Party” was directed by John Wachs, a senior majoring in 
telecommunication and film.

The story focuses on a woman who can’t catch a break while preparing for a dinner party with friends, and eventually spirals out of control. Through cinematography, the typical event of an evening meal is turned into a strange experience.

“[There’s] kind of an ethereal, otherworldly vibe to the whole movie,” Wachs said.

This is not Wachs first time being shown at Sidewalk, and the student said the festival had a good reputation. In the future, Wachs would like to work as a cinematographer for film or television.

“Why I Am Afraid”

Directed by Tanner Robbins, “Why I Am Afraid” tells the story of a gay man experiencing panic and fear while walking to a Grindr date. The main character worries that he is going to become the victim of a violent hate crime.

“The film is really about his internal feelings, visualized through the cinematography of the film,” Robbins said. “It’s really all his imagination.”

The character imagines his own murder, and the film ends ambiguously. The director said the film was inspired by a true story of a killing in Texas.

Robbins originally made “Why I Am Afraid” for Campus Movie Fest, where he had to cut a lot out to fit the festival’s five-minute time limit. At Sidewalk, the short will be shown in it’s entirety.

Robbins is now in Los Angeles, doing freelance work on commercials and film projects. “Why I Am Afraid” was screened on Saturday morning in a block of shorts related to LGBTQ+ issues.

“Lea”

A short film directed by Connor Simpson, 
“Lea” was screened in a block of other local shorts 
on Saturday.