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Opening and Closing of Sidewalk

August 28, 2009

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One of the true highlights of “Best Worst Movie” is Alabama native George Hardy so it should come to no one’s surprise that this clever little gem of a doc is opening Alabama’s great festival, Sidewalk Film Festival.

The documentary film is directed by and stars Michael Paul Stephenson, Darren Ewing, Jason Wright and Alexander City, Alabama native, George Hardy. “Best Worst Movie” is a hilarious and endearing look at one of history’s greatest cinematic blunders (“Troll 2”) and the love and affection that surrounds it. Stephenson has managed to put together one of the best docs of all time about the worst film of all time. It truly is one to see.

“We are thrilled to have “Best Worst Movie” open Sidewalk 2009; it is the perfect film to kick-off this year’s festival! Best Worst will set the tone for the remainder of the weekend- fun, fun, fun!” says Sidewalk’s Executive Director, Chloe Collins.

“Troll 2” will also be screened at the festival, although a time has not yet been announced. “Best Worst Movie” will open the fest on Sept. 25 at the Alabama Theatre, doors open at 7:15-7:30.

For more on other films playing at the fest, see my story from earlier this week.

But the other new announcement from Sidewalk is the closing night films, “Alabama Moon” and “True Adolescents.”

Tim McCanlies newest, “Alabama Moon,” will world premiere at the festival. The film stars Jimmy Bennett, John Goodman, Clint Howard and Uriah Shelton (Howard and Shelton will be in attendance). The film is based on the successful book of the same title. Author Watt Key also penned the script adaptation.

“Alabama Moon” is a family friendly film, set in the early 80’s. Eleven-year-old Moon Blake (Jimmy Bennett) has spent most of his life hiding out in the forests of Alabama with his father, an anti-government radical who clings to conspiracy theories and trusts no one. Moon’s life suddenly changes when the land they live on is sold to a lawyer just as his father becomes ill and suddenly dies. He has never known any truth but his Pap’s and so he tries to follow his last instructions: make your way to Alaska where “people could still make a living off trapping.” Moon quickly finds himself in the path of civilization, when the lawyer, Mr. Wellington (John Goodman), discovers him on his land. Thinking he is doing what is best for the boy, he calls the local authorities. Moon bolts, fearing the very thing he has been hiding from his entire life. Unfortunately, he is captured by the mean-spirited Constable Sanders (Clint Howard), who takes him to a boy’s reform school to become property of the State. Here, Moon meets other boys his age and learns what friendship is all about. However, Moon is determined on getting to Alaska and escapes from the school bringing two of his friends Kit (Uriah Shelton) and Hal (Gabriel Basso) back to the forest to live with him. Moon uses his wilderness survival skills to outwit Constable Sanders and provide food and shelter for him and his friends. Moon writes smoke letters to his Pap, letting him know he is ok. However, Moon begins to question his father’s beliefs when Hal leaves and Kit gets gravely ill and is in need of medical attention. As Moon encounters other lifestyles, true friends and true enemies, he adapts and learns to survive in the outside world, and even, perhaps, make his home there.

“Alabama Moon” will screen at the fabulous Alabama Theatre on Sunday, September 27 at 6:30pm.

The other closing night film, “True Adolescents,” I saw at SXSW this year and really enjoyed. Starring Mark Duplass (Humpday, Baghead, etc), Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Bret Loehr and Carr Thompson, “True Adolescents” takes a look at 30-year-old Sam (Duplass) who is going on 16.

He spends his days sleeping in, hanging out in coffee shops and papering Seattle with his band’s show flyers. When his girlfriend gets tired of his freeloading ways he finds himself, once again, in his Aunt Sharon’s (Melissa Leo) spare bedroom. When his cousin Oliver’s (Bret Loehr) deadbeat father bails out on a camping trip, Sharon manages to guilt Sam into taking Oliver and his best pal, Jake (Carr Thompson), on a boys weekend in the nearby Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. When three adolescents are left to their own devices in the woods things are bound to go awry. Get lost they do, but that’s only the half of it. Despite what seems to be a somewhat traditional set-up, “True Adolescents” is driven by an incredibly refreshing script that turns out to be anything but pedestrian. It is a coming of age film on multiple levels; issues of maturity, friendship, masculinity, aspiration and sexuality are investigated within a unique and refreshing context. It is poignant, funny, intensely entertaining and downright charming.

“True Adolescents” will screen at The Carver Theatre on Sunday, September 27 at 6:45pm.

Both “Alabama Moon” and “True Adolescents” are in competition within the narrative category at Sidewalk 2009.

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