Sidewalk Film Festival/Shout, Birmingham

I can hardly believe that this was my first trip to Birmingham, Alabama. Having traveled extensively around the country, it seems impossible that I would have missed the place where so much of the Civil Rights Movement had transpired — but I had.

Jeff & Melanie Jeffcoat with Edward Journey

Luckily, I had a passionately well-informed native son in my friend Edward Journey who introduced me to some of the city’s sites, sounds and culinary pleasures. In a fleet 24 hours, Edward managed to provide me with a tour of the city’s highlights and I found Birmingham packed full of surprises.

My first significant surprise was the chance to reunite with two classmates from the University of Washington, Melanie (Van Betten) & Jeff Jeffcoat. They married after grad school and I’d not seem them since Seattle. After several years in L.A., they relocated to Birmingham to raise their two girls where they’d also be able to utilize the close proximity of Jeff’s family. They’re both doing extremely well and have recently launched Circle X Films. Melanie associate produced Man in the Glass: The Dale Brown Story, which won this year’s Sidewalk Audience Awards for Best Documentary Feature and Best Alabama Film.

Though we’ve not been notified — nor can I find any evidence of it online — Melanie tells me that The Green received an Honorable Mention among the Shout awards. Shout is B-ham’s LGBT film festival and it operates in conjunction with Sidewalk.

Our Shout screening went well, about 150 people in attendance. We screened at The Carver, a restored theater located in what is recognized historically as the former “Black” side of town.

The theater is located very near the memorial park that was the site of some of the first civil rights riots. On my whirlwind tour of Birmingham, Edward took me to the park where I grabbed a few shots of the statuary.

I was deeply moved by this sculpture in particular: two people hiding from danger just inside an open doorway.

I was tremendously impressed by the tone of the sculptures and the park overall because the energy of the unrest and struggle was captured so beautifully. My visit reminded me of how “young” the civil rights movement had been.

A sculpture depicting police dogs designed so that you walk thru the attacking dogs

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