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The Order of Oddfish

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Thanks, San Antonio, for another amazing 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screening!

February 11, 2019

Please donate to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! It’s tax-deductible. Our fiscal sponsor is Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

What an incredible day! On Saturday, February 9 we kicked off the 2019 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in San Antonio, at the beautiful Witte Museum. Over 600 people registered for the screening, and we filled the auditorium up:

(That’s filmmaker Robert Rodriguez doing an intro of our show.)

I was lucky enough to have as my co-host the hilarious, game-for-anything Texas author Nikki Loftin (Wish Girl), who really belted out the song in the opening skit—a skit that also featured the super-talented Kiera Ocampo of Vale Middle School.

Thank you so, so much to Laura Cole and her crew at Bibliotech, Christa Aldrich and her people at HEB Read Three, and Judge Nelson Wolff and Tracy Wolff of the Hidalgo Foundation. It’s because of their support and friendship that the 90-Second Newbery has taken off so splendidly in San Antonio.

I was lucky enough to have San Antonio journalist Robert Rivard himself introduce me to the crowd before the show. And I was very much honored to have Judge Wolff speak beforehand too. AND even the mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, gave an introductory speech! San Antonio knows how to roll out the red carpet!

Thanks also to Erika Prosper, JSAV Productions, Say Si, the Witte Museum, and Whataburger for their support and help. I couldn’t do this without you! (And most of the photographs on this page are courtesy of Say Si.)

Speaking of Robert Rivard, his reporter Nicholas Frank did a great write-up of the screening in the Rivard Report.

It was so great to watch the kids’ movies, and then meet them in real life. Here we are watching an adaptation of Louis Sachar’s 1999 Medal Winner Holes by the group called “Chosen GEMS,” and here are the Chosen GEMS themselves:

San Antonio is unique among the 90-Second Newbery screenings in that there’s competitive aspect to it, and prize money for the schools of the winners!

This year, first place (and $1500!) went to this adaptation of Lois Lowry’s 1994 Medal Winner The Giver by APAP Productions of Boerne, Texas:

Our full review is on the 90-Second Newbery webite, in which judges say the movie has “a rich and beautifully worded script that was expertly narrated. The camera angles, editing, and music were all well-chosen to add to the overall mood and pacing of the story … especially when the Giver was giving to Jonas his memories, and the camera whirled around and around, using the brief darkness that occurs when going behind the head to cut to the specific memories. The acting was committed, engaging, and believable!” (And, I found at the screening, they composed the music themselves!)

Here are the guys of APAP Productions accepting their grand prize from Judge Wolff:

Second place (and $750) went to this adaptation of Russell Freedman’s 1988 Medal Winner Lincoln: A Photobiography by Alinne and Brenda of the Young Women’s Leadership Academy:

As the judges said, this movie is “resourceful, polished, and comprehensive! . . . The olde-tymey piano background music sets the right mood, and the olde-tymey sepia backgrounds situate us right in the era (and serve as an effective foil for the more-colorful puppets). I liked the extreme acceleration of the dialogue: ‘I shall run for state legislature.’ ‘Sir, you’ve lost the election!’ ‘I guess I’ll just have to try harder next time.’ . . . Fantastic job!”

Third place, and $500, went to this adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s 2004 Winner The Tale of Despereaux by Rome, Andrew, Manuel, Mac, Maddie, and Edrick of St. Anthony Catholic School:

The judges said, “Great illustrations and great acting, but most importantly . . great rap battle! The use of subtitles was smart, too, because the rapping is so admirably fast. I liked the clever rhymes and the fun tangents they went on (Tony Stark!) and it was a great choice to throw a barrage of fun illustrations at the viewer, broken up every once in a while by the occasional live-action bit. This was joyful, ingenious, and so much fun to watch!”

There were also two honorable mentions, with prizes of $250 each! The first was for this adaptation of Gary Paulsen’s 1988 Honor Book Hatchet by Utopia ISD of Utopia, TX:

The judges said,, “It was a stroke of brilliance to tell the story using a news story perspective. The video and sound quality are excellent and the use of videography tells the story effectively and efficiently . . . High quality stuff!”

The second honorable mention was for this adaptation of Arnold Lobel’s 1973 Honor Book Frog and Toad Together by Galileo of the Advanced Learning Academy in San Antonio:

The judges called this “a wonderful, charming, impressive movie! I loved the combination of elaborate stop-motion paper puppets, expressive spoken narration, and sound effects and music.”

There a few more movies I’d like to highlight. The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival received lots of entries from JSTEM Academy in San Antonio, all of Lois Lowry’s 1994 Medal winner The Giver. We couldn’t feature them all at the screening, but each of the movies had great moments. So here at the 90-Second Newbery, we edited them all together, and put over it a rap about The Giver that was also done by one of the JSTEM students. Enjoy!

I also wanted to draw attention to this great Charlotte’s Web by Celeste, Jose, Sebastian, Adrian, Lydia, Emmanuel, Kaleb of Pershing Elementary that we used to kick off the San Antonio show. In fact, I’m going to use it to kick off the show through all the cities in the 2019 tour. It’s perfect in its own way.

You can read the review of it here, which says “the fantastically detailed paper puppets, the vibrant colors, and the galloping music all combined to make a compelling, kinetic piece of animation.”

We received over 160 movie submissions from San Antonio this year. There were so many great entries, it was very hard to choose! We only had time to show 20 on Saturday. Here are the others we featured that day (click to watch!):


Hatchet by Joe A, Peter K, Kayla M, Aimee A, Valerie A, Yara L, Bryan T. of Woodlawn Hills Elementary

The Giver by St. Luke’s Episcopal School

Because of Winn-Dixie by Nevaeh, James, Benjamin, Dalton, Jonelle, and Alana of the Frederick Douglass Academy

Old Yeller by Ryanna and Phoenix of Madison Elementary

Last Stop on Market Street by Louis V., Artemio R., Carlos C., Nathaniel Y., Abel A., and Emanuel C. of Kindred Elementary

The Tale of Despereaux by Alexander, Gabriela, Beatrice, Cameron, Jimmy, and Aiden of Bonham Academy

The One and Only Ivan by Damien G. and Emiliano R. of Miller Elementary GATE

Holes by Jimmijha, Ranevaeh, Danna, Shermiya, A’morie,Frankie, Faith, Nevaeh, and Hattie of “Chosen GEMS”

Holes by Vale Middle School

Frog and Toad Together by Mel, Bella, Devyn and Eugenia of Young Women’s Leadership Academy

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Aliya Macknojua of Colony Meadows Elementary, Sugar Land, TX

Hello, Universe by Emma Dixon, Dripping Springs, TX

The Whipping Boy by Rhodes Elementary School



Thanks so much for a great 90-Second Newbery screening, San Antonio! I’m looking forward to seeing what you make next year—and it’s not too early to start making your movies now! You can find lots of help at the 90-Second Newbery website, especially screenwriting, cinematography, and editing help at our Video Resources page. See you next February!

Please donate to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! It’s tax-deductible. Our fiscal sponsor is Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.