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©2017 Classic Film Watch is a non-commercial, film review and informational website. All photos or artwork, unless otherwise identified, are either in the public domain or believed to satisfy the four-point criteria of the U.S. copyright law for fair use. No infringement is intended. Photos and artwork are not used for commercial purposes.

Gardens of Red Dust Wins Juried Award

     Eleven well-made documentary shorts featuring Alabama people and places screened at Sidewalk Film Festival. Subject matter was extremely varied, ranging from a paralympic athlete's accomplishments to an okra fest to an examination of different perspectives on death and burial.
      This last one, titled Gardens of Red Dust, co-written and co-directed by Corey Carpenter and Maggie Patterson, won the Alan Hunter Award for Best Alabama Film at Sidewalk. The production merged several Alabamians’ ideas on how they wanted to handle their departure. One chose a quiet burial in a family cemetery in the country. Another liked the slightly bizarre and humorous idea of cremation with their ashes to fill shotgun shells so they could “fly through the air.”
     This is the second time one of Carpenter's films was accepted at Sidewalk. In 2015, Alabama The Beautiful, an hour-long documentary about the impact of artisan businesses on Alabama, was selected to screen.

Classic Freaky Friday Still A Fun Movie

     Freaky Friday, the 1976 classic version starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris, screened at the Birmingham Sidewalk Festival. This retro, family movie was part of Sidewalk's Family Film Festival sponsored by Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Alabama.
      The screening comes on the heels of the 40th Anniversary of the film. Here's a bit of trivia: Foster and Harris were both nominated for the Best Actress Golden Globe Award. Technically, since they played each other's character for most of the film, they were both nominated for playing the same character! The film was directed by Gary Nelson.

A (Different Kind Of) Ghost Story

     A Ghost Story is a supernatural drama that is not meant to scare you in the usual way, but it makes you think about how short life can be and the uncertainties of what comes after.
      Academy Award Winner Casey Affleck plays a musician who dies suddenly, but his spirit remains in the house he loved. He quietly watches his grieving girlfriend, played by Academy Award Nominee Rooney Mara, but sadly, she moves on and other people move in. He becomes frustrated with the new company and makes his presence known with feats of levitation and other ghost-like actions that scare off the new inhabitants.
      The next inhabitants throw a party. As the ghost eavesdrops, one person gives a dissertation on how humanity tries very hard to preserve the legacy of the human race, but it will be to no good end because the world will eventually cease to exist and the universe will collapse.
      Years later, the ghost becomes displaced by a bulldozer and a skyscraper is built where his house had stood. Frustrated, he climbs to the top of the building and jumps off, landing in the time of pioneers in the frontier. Now, we have a time-traveling ghost. It starts to get really interesting. The ghost watches as the settler stakes out a place for a house in a spot where the ghost's house would be centuries later. Some time passes and the ghost finds the settlers, arrows sticking out of their bodies, killed by Native Americans.
      The ghost is then transported to the future, back to his original house, and watches as he, very much alive, and his girlfriend move in. Now, we have some sort of time loop. Could this be a space time continuum or some other experimental physics going on? After all, this is an experimental film. Science actually has nothing to do with the film. Although a unique concept about a ghost, the story delves much deeper into the human psyche and makes the viewer think.
      As the story advances, it becomes even more surprising. A Ghost Story is a memorable and thought-provoking film that's sure to generate many conversations. Directed by David Lowery.

Nostalgic music and great acting shape
The Song of Sway Lake

     The Song of Sway Lake is a film full of many different elements—a treasure hunt for a rare and priceless 78rpm record, family drama, the tragic death of a father, and an outsider's peculiar fascination with the family, especially the matriarch. Even with so much happening, the story remains cohesive. The cement? The fine acting performances that take you beyond the dialog and action, forming strong characters.
     Ollie, played by Rory Culkin, returns to his family lake house with his Russian friend, Nikolai (Robert Sheehan), to search for a valuable vinyl record from the 1920s Jazz Age. His father, who had recently commited suicide, was an avid record collector. Ollie, who also collects music, wants to steal this record before anyone else in the family finds it. Soon, Ollie's grandmother, Charlie Sway (Mary Beth Peil), arrives to search for the record, too.
     The screenplay was written by Ari Gold and Elizabeth Bull. The film was directed by Gold.
     The soundtrack is composed of original songs written by Ethan Gold. The songs were faithfully produced to replicate music from the Big Band Era (theme song) and the Jazz Age, the time period of the priceless, vintage record that is the focus of the big search.
      In a Q&A session after the screening, Ethan spoke about the difficulty of finding voices to perform the songs because very few singers today can sing in the old styles. The extraordinary songs were performed by John Grant and The Staves. Even though a scene at the first of the film refers to Sway Lake being a real place, Ari Gold said that the lake is actually fictional.


Gardens of Red Dust

Freaky Friday


A Ghost Story








Gold Brothers
Song Writer Ethan Gold and Director Ari Gold for
The Song of Sway Lake.

The Song of Sway Lake poster

Sidewalk Film Festival 2017
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