SHORT CIRCUIT: Sidewalk Sidewrite Competition

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This year sees the return of the Sidewalk Film Festival’s Sidewrite Screenplay Competition.

After taking a two-year break in order to reevaluate and revamp the competition, Sidewalk Film Festival committee is bringing Sidewrite back larger and better than ever! The 20th Annual Sidewalk Film Festival takes place August 20th-26th, 2018.

Sidewalk Executive Director Chloe Cook

As Executive Director, Chloe Cook has shepherded the film festival since 2009, seeing its attendance grow to over 13,000 festival goers last year alone.

Kiwi Lanier has recently assumed the position of Education and Outreach Coordinator/Marketing Coordinator.

Kiwi Lanier received her Masters in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. A former Sidewalk Film Festival programmer, she returned “home” to help launch the new screenplay contest. This year, the Sidewrite Screenplay Competition returns and includes both feature and short (20 pages or less) script categories. Another new addition is the availability of feedback notes to entrants for an extra $10 entry fee.

Kiwi: “After taking a two-year break from Sidewrite to evaluate the program, we felt we’d gathered enough information and input from the screenwriting community and from other festivals to make the necessary changes to the competition (like adding a feature screenplay category and providing written feedback to the writers) and relaunch. We’ve assembled a top-notch review panel as well as professional jurors to read and review each screenplay and when requested by the writer, provide written feedback. We’ll also be providing our competition finalists with access to the annual Festival where their screenplay will be featured in a table read. We see Sidewrite as a jumping off place for a new focus on story at Sidewalk—with many expanded programs to come with the opening of our cinema and film center, such as a screenwriting lab, regular table read opportunities, and workshops.

Education and Outreach Coordinator Kiwi Lanier

“Sidewalk is where filmmakers come to meet other filmmakers and build relationships that extend beyond the Festival weekend and into future projects. If you’ve never been before, it’s like summer camp for filmmakers. Screenwriters should consider entering our competition and attending the Festival to network with other writers and filmmakers and experience for themselves what MovieMaker magazine calls one of the “top 25 coolest film festivals in the world” and one of the “50 Festivals worth the entry fee.” If that’s not reason enough Sidewrite offers written feedback, cash prizes, and table reads.”

Late Deadline is March 15, 2018
Extended Deadline is April 16, 2018
Notification Date: July 28, 2018

Best Feature Screenplay $500
Best Short Screenplay $250
Best Alabama Screenplay $250

You can enter the screenplay competition (feature or short) at FilmFreeway.

Sidewalk is one of the festivals I try not to miss. The table reads are done with professional actors and are always a treat to experience. But there’s so much more to enjoy.

For film screenings, Sidewalk boasts a number of venues, able to simultaneous screen multiple films. Among these are the famous Alabama and Lyric theaters. Built in 1927, the Alabama Theater seats 2,500 and houses Big Bertha, the Alabama’s prized Mighty Wurlitzer Organ.  An extensive project of reconditioning brought it back to its sparkling 1927 look with all the gold leaf paint either replaced or cleaned. Just across the street is the Lyric Theater, with a capacity of about 750 people, built in 1914 and reopened just two years ago after a twenty year, $11.5 million restoration.

Kiwi explains what makes the Sidewalk Film Festival so special.

Kiwi: We’ve had several early films of now-famous filmmakers: Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Joe Swanberg (people might know him from Netflix’s show Easy, but he also has done a ton of other stuff), Daniel Scheinert (one of “The Daniels” who directed Swiss Army Man and the “Turn Down For What” music video), the Zellner brothers (Kumiko the Treasure Hunter), the Duplass brothers (The One I Love, Safety Not Guaranteed, and the Skeleton Twins), Ondi Timoner (the only two-time recipient of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in documentary), David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, A Ghost Story), Onur Tukel (director of Summer of Blood and writer of Infinity Baby), Adam Wingard (VHS, You’re Next, Death Note)—the films listed are not necessarily what we played from these filmmakers at Sidewalk, just the ones they are likely most well known for. Another thing that we’ve sort of accidentally “succeeded” at is being a great date spot—so many couples we know have gotten together through Sidewalk that we made a T-shirt last year that said “Sidewalk is for lovers.”

“I’ve been to several other festivals, and the thing that stands out to me about Sidewalk is the genuine hospitality. We know that the South is not necessarily the most immediate destination that comes to mind when you think of independent film, but we ware proof that people down here really do appreciate it. And we want to thank the filmmakers who submit to us accordingly so they can tell their friends and keep coming back year after year. We want everyone who comes to Sidewalk to have a good time and we will go out of our way to make that happen. We really love what we do and want to be as inclusive as possible and I think it shows.”

You can enter the screenplay competition (feature or short) at FilmFreeway. Next deadline is March 15, 2018. Extended deadline is April 16, 2018.

Follow the Sidewalk Film Festival at the Sidewalk website.

Before you submit your script, make sure it’s polished and ready with the help of our ScriptXpert Coverage and Development Notes!