BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The 25th Sidewalk Film Festival kicked back off Monday night, and organizers are expecting to surpass even pre-pandemic numbers.

Around 15,000 film fans from all over the nation are headed to Birmingham this week for the festival.

“People are interested in film around Birmingham, and they have been for 25 years. If we keep it up, I think they’ll keep showing up,” said Nick Adrian, marketing manager for the Sidewalk Film Festival.

Monday through Thursday, the festival is hosting themed nights, starting with a tribute to Alabama filmmakers. Opening night on Friday features a documentary on the painter Thomas Kinkade and his troubled past.

Now, several Sidewalk alums are making waves in Hollywood, such as Greta Gerwig, the director of the summer smash hit “Barbie,” along with Daniel Scheinert, the Oscar-winning co-director of “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

For festival organizers, that says a lot about local talent.

“Obviously, Alabama is not a huge filmmaking resource yet, so it’s kind of amazing that all these people have started off submitting their films and then go off and do these great things,” Adrian said.

The festival runs through Sunday night.