Among the Alabama short films featured at the Sidewalk Film Festival this weekend will be one written by Anniston resident Meg Hearon Weidner, who acts in the movie alongside her child.
The film, titled "Mission Disconnect," follows a young girl who sees that her parents are so busy connecting to the wider world through their phones that they’re losing connection with each other.
It will be shown at Sidewalk on Saturday at noon in the ASFA Lecture Hall.
Meg Weidner said the movie is based on real life.
"I recognized that there was an extreme disconnect with all the technology we have," she said.
Weidner and her 9-year-old child, Lexie, play the roles of mother and daughter. Meg Weidner enlisted Michael Rosinsky, a friend who she met years ago in an acting class, to play the father.
"Everyone was incredibly awesome to work with," Weidner said of the cast and crew.
"Mission Disconnect" was filmed in Newport Beach and Irvine, Calif., where Weidner also has a home.
She and her husband own Howard Core Company, a wholesale and manufacturing company at McClellan in Anniston that produces violins and violas. The family has opened a sister company, Core Strings, in California.
Another film Weidner wrote starts shooting in the summer of 2017. She said the director, Kuang Lee, saw the potential in her script and has worked with her to keep improving it.
"He is very kind and humble on top of that," she said.
Lee is best known for his film "Buddy Solitaire," a 2016 film about a struggling comedian who finds purpose in teaching comedy to the mentally ill.
Weidner said she met Lee at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where "Mission Disconnect" premiered.
Weidner described their upcoming collaboration, a feature-length movie called "Best Mom," as a PG-13 version of "Bad Moms," a 2016 film starring Mila Kunis about a group of overworked moms who rebel against the unrealistic standards of motherhood.
"Best Mom is my dedication to every woman who has ever had self doubts," Weidner said in an email.
Weidner was born in Jackson, Miss., and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. Her lifelong dream has been to be an actor, but she said her parents made a deal to pay for acting classes in New York if she didn’t major in theater.
She moved from New York to Wilmington, N.C., which she described as an up-and-coming television and film hub.
She met her husband in 2002, moved to Anniston in 2003 and married in 2005.
While in Anniston, Weidner worked on several projects with Annie Brunson, the founder of Yellowhammer Filmmakers of Northeastern Alabama. Weidner acted in a Brunson-produced short film titled "The Birthday Wishes," which also was screened at Sidewalk Film Festival.
Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter: @DGaddy_Star.
Five reasons to visit Sidewalk Film Festival
1. The Lyric Theater
This will be the first year that the newly restored, century-old Lyric Theater will host screenings.
The former vaudeville theater underwent $11.5 million in renovation starting in 2013 thanks to an enormous fundraising and volunteer campaign, "Light Up the Lyric."
The Lyric was built in 1914 and hosted stars such as the Marx Brothers, Will Rogers and Milton Berle. It closed in the 1950s, briefly reopened as a porn theater in the 1970s, and sat vacant during the 1980s. Birmingham Landmarks took over the building in 1993.
2. The food
The festival will include a food truck rally with some of Birmingham’s most beloved mobile eateries, including The Heavenly Donut Co., Repicci’s Italian Ice & Gelato, Dreamcakes Bakery, Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Lazy Boy BBQ and Old Town Pizza. If you prefer your restaurants stationary, Birmingham’s theater district is brimming with amazing choices. Definitely try John’s City Diner and the iconic Gus’s Hot Dogs.
3. The history
In addition to the Lyric and the Alabama Theater, built in 1927, some of the most important landmarks in the civil rights movement are just a few blocks down from the theater district. At just one intersection you’ll find the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park and the Civil Rights Institute.
4. The filmmakers
Most of the screenings at Sidewalk end with Q&As with the directors, producers or actors involved in the films. The discussions offer a way for filmmakers to share their knowledge as well as stories about the ups and downs of making a movie — many times on paltry budgets.
5. The fans
Sidewalk draws in thousands of people from around the world. Don’t be afraid to chat up the people standing next to you in line. You’ll likely find someone who shares your love of movies.
— Daniel Gaddy