I saw a lot of groovy films at Sidewalk, a few fair-to-middlin', and a couple of stinkers. My only regrets are :
I didn't get there early enough for the first batch of Alabama Short Films,
I went to Dirty Country (Uplifting story, didn't care for the music) instead of the third Alabama shorts block,
and I went to the reprise screening of Murder Party (slick and amusing but rather hollow) instead of... something else.
I bought a DVD copy of the documentary Lost and Found in Mexico. I got a free DVD from the Reining Nails guys. I'm a satisfied customer.
Re: Reining Nails: I'd put these guys on the same shelf as Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Peter Greenaway, that kind of filmmaker. Their short films tend to seesaw between witty and idiosyncratic narrative fragments (they remind me a bit of writer Donald Barthelme: "Fragments are the only forms I trust") and instants of semi-abstraction a la the aforementioned Stan Brakhage. They're young men, just getting started. The best is yet to come, and I can't wait to see where they go next. A lot of the most talked-up local shorts are stylish, slick and amusing, but their collective theme seems to be "Please let me direct a car commercial." These guys are doing something way more exciting, at least to me. No local filmmakers excite me more.
Daniel Scheinert was part of Team Soppy Suit, makers of some of the smartest and funniest Sidewalk Scramble films. This year he did a lovely cinematic tone poem titled "I'm Nostalgic" in which the story is a pretty standard "Cute Gen-X relationship flames out" deal but the acting, camerawork and sound are loverly. I hope he'll blend the confessional confectionery aspects of this short with the wit of his Scrambles.
Sam McDavid does manic non-sequiter animation that seem like a hybrid of Gilliam and Cartoon Network. His relatively epic-length short was like a fulfillment of his Scramble shorts. Cartoon Network should headhunt this guy.
Two shorts had "Lunch" in the title: "Lunch With Lincoln" and "Lunch." Both were perfectly told jokes. I want more from both creative teams.
Chauncy Van Vandervan gave me a pass to the after party. He's the wind beneath my wings. I drank more that night than I have in the previous month, which isn't that much, but it was enough to take me to the magic happy land to which alcohol is the passport. I re-met, re-fell in love with, and re-made a fool of myself to a hypnotically charming woman whom I don't wish to embarrass, so I'll refer to her only as "Bear's wife." She and Bear have an awesome relationship that I admire and honor, so it's not like I'd try (and unquestionably fail) to impose on that. It was wonderfully freeing to be able to flirt like a goofball in front of her husband, since everyone was very clear on the scrimmage nature of the flirtation.
Later that night I went to Redmont Hotel. Here's the deal: a few years ago Mongo the Magnificent hosted a keg After-After Party on the roof of Redmont Hotel. Lots of folks showed, lots of folks had a blast. Just a bunch of film nerds hanging loose above Birmingham and beneath God's night sky.
So now every year the rumor circles that there's another Redmont roof party. And there never is, but people show up and make the best of it. I went this year and while it was a pale shadow of the One True Redmont Roof Party it still built up to a pretty decent gathering. I held the elevator for The Jesus Guy (subject of the documentary The Jesus Guy) and spent the rest of the night in a guilt-gloom because a representative of Jesus saw me stupid drunk.