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Countdown to Chicago 90-Second Newbery, Part 2: Wunderkind Solo Auteurs Edition

January 29, 2016

A big thanks to the San Francisco Awesome Foundation for supporting 2016’s 90-Second Newbery screenings on February 13 in San Francisco and Oakland with a generous grant. (Wait . . . you want to make a tax-deductible donation to the 90-Second Newbery too? You can do it here!)

The Chicago screening of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is coming up this Sunday, January 31, 2016! It’s sold out, and there’s a wait list, but seats are always opening up, so you can get on that wait list here.

What can you expect to see at Sunday’s screening? Today I want to concentrate on three wunderkind auteurs who project a go-it-alone persona. They make videos that seem to be like one-person shows. Two of them we’ve met in previous years, so let’s lead off with the newcomer: 8-year-old Corbin Stanchfield of Lafayette, Indiana! He makes his 90-Second Newbery debut with an adaptation of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s 1992 Newbery Medal Winner Shiloh. Check it out above.

Shiloh is, of course, your standard boy-and-his-dog story, set in West Virginia. The premise of Corbin’s video: what if there are certain budget cuts in the video’s production, such that the video can’t actually be filmed in the rolling hills of West Virginia where the book is set, but rather must make do with the flat fields of Indiana? And furthermore . . . maybe the budget can’t afford, er, a dog either . . . but, well, how about a bagel? A bagel makes an acceptable substitute for a dog, right? Don’t judge too hastily! Watch the movie, this bagel is a very expressive and frisky and emotional bagel! Corbin does great work throughout too, from selling the premise to nailing the visual gags to his rural accent to the impromptu beard! You can check out more of Corbin Stanchfield’s videos at his website Corbin Films.

Another up-and-comer: Ada Grey of Chicago, who every year submits a super-elaborate 90-Second Newbery done entirely with PlayMobil figures. This year, Ada adapted Katherine Applegate’s 2013 Newbery Medal Winner The One and Only Ivan:

I love the super-complicated, meticulously-composed scenes that Ada puts together. And in terms of storytelling, Ada always lays everything out logically and clearly, which is hard to do in 90 seconds! The voiceover is brisk and witty and I love Ada’s performance as Ivan the silverback. I look forward to her submission every year, she always raises the bar every year with another great video!

Finally for today, Ava Levine of Chicago does Lois Lowry’s 1994 Medal winning chestnut The Giver:

Ava came to my attention last year with a 90-Second Newbery in the style of the opening monologue of “Saturday Night Live,” but comes into her own here with this one-woman show. Like the other movies, it was fun to see Ava play multiple roles, and I liked how she resourcefully used her hair as the Giver’s “beard.” I particularly liked the lines “I will touch you and you will be put into a kind of montage thing” and “I must run away and cause a huge problem for the society!” The montage itself was well done, with the spinning around in color. The movie definitely hit the sweet spot for me at the end, where the narrator says “But personally, I like to think he died”—THAT IS EXACTLY MY OPINION ABOUT THE END OF THE BOOK TOO, but nobody seems to agree with me on that! Thanks, Ava, for saying what must be said! Jonas totally dies at the end of that book, there’s no doubt in my mind!

Whether or not you believe Jonas died at the end of The Giver (and he did die, he’s totally dead, don’t even delude yourselves), I’m looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival relies on your donations! Want to support what we’re doing? Please donate the 90-Second Newbery here! We are a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.