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Screening dates for the NINTH ANNUAL 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, 2020! (Plus: A D&D-style movie of The Black Cauldron)

December 2, 2019

We rely on community support to keep the 90-Second Newbery going. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to us here, through our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is an annual video contest I founded in which kid filmmakers create short movies that tell the entire stories of Newbery-winning books—preferably with a fun twist. For instance, check out the movie above, based on Lloyd Alexander’s 1966 Newbery Honor Winner The Black Cauldron . . . but retold in the style of a Dungeons and Dragons game!

I love the acting, which perfectly portrays the impetuous assistant pig-keeper Taran, the weird-metaphor-spewing Princess Eilonwy, the boastful bard (with lie-detecting harp) Fflewddur Fflam, the cute glutton Gurgi, the bullying Prince Ellidyr, the noble Adaon . . . as well as some fantastic witches, zombies, and a very capable Dungeon Master! You may recognize the actors from their movie last year of The Tale of Despereaux, or of their movie two years ago My Father’s Dragon. This is one of the many movies that’ll be featured in the 90-Second Newbery’s 2020 season.

Okay, okay! I know the above movie is nine minutes long. That’s way too long! But think of the above movie as the extended director’s cut. There is a shorter edit at the end of this post.

Join the fun and make your own movie for the 90-Second Newbery! It’s open to young filmmakers up to 18 years old, and adult help is allowed. The deadline is January 10, 2020, so get busy now! Moviemakers in Minnesota have an extended deadline of February 21, 2020. (Need technical help and moviemaking advice? Check out our video resources and how-to guides.)

In 2020 we’ll be screening our film festival in thirteen cities (with possibly more to be added). All of the screenings are FREE! I’ll put up links to make your reservations in January. For now, save these dates:

Saturday, February 1, 2020
The ROCHESTER, NY screening, at the Eisenhart Auditorium of the Rochester Museum & Science Center (657 East Ave). Hosted by me and author Bruce Coville (My Teacher Is An Alien, Space Station Ice 3, and more). 2 pm.

Saturday, February 8, 2020
The OAKLAND, CA screening, at the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library (5366 College Avenue). Hosted by me and author Marcus Ewert (Mummy Cat, Mr. Pack Rat Really Wants That). 12 pm.

Sunday, February 9, 2020
The SAN FRANCISCO screening, at the San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin Street) in the Koret Auditorium. Hosted by me and author Marcus Ewert (Mummy Cat, Mr. Pack Rat Really Wants That). 2 pm.

Saturday, February 15, 2020
The SAN ANTONIO, TX screening, at the Mays Family Center at the Witte Museum (3801 Broadway St., San Antonio, TX). Hosted by me and author Carolyn Flores (The Amazing Watercolor Fish, A Surprise for Teresita). Made possible by partners at Bexar County Digital Library Bibliotech and the Hidalgo Foundation through the generosity of H-E-B Texas Grocery. 2 pm.

Saturday, February 22, 2020
The BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY screening, at the Central Library (10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY) in the Dweck Auditorium. Hosted by me and Newbery Honor winner Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer). 1 pm.

Saturday, February 29, 2020
The TACOMA, WA screening, Hosted by me and Tacoma’s own Doug Mackey. Time and location TBA.

Sunday, March 1, 2020
The SEATTLE screening, at the Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2020 at the Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Ave, Seattle, WA). Hosted by me and Newbery Honor winner Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky). Time TBA.

Sunday, March 8, 2020
The CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY screening, at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State Street) in the Pritzker Auditorium. Hosted by me and author Keir Graff (The Phantom Tower). 1:45 pm.

Saturday, March 14, 2020
The BOSTON screening, at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square (700 Boylston St, Boston, MA). Hosted by me and National Book Award winner M.T. Anderson (Feed, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge). 2:30 pm.

Saturday, March 28, 2020 (afternoon)
The SALT LAKE CITY screening, at the Salt Lake City Public Library (210 East 400 South). Hosted by me and author Keir Graff (The Phantom Tower). Made possible by partners at Utah Humanities and the Salt Lake City Public Library. 1 pm.

Saturday, March 28, 2020 (evening)
The OGDEN, UT screening, at the Treehouse Museum (347 22nd Street, Ogden, UT). Hosted by me and author Keir Graff (The Phantom Tower). Made possible by partners at Utah Humanities and the Treehouse Museum. 6:30 pm.

Saturday, April 4, 2020
The BOULDER, CO screening, at the Boulder Public Library (1001 Arapahoe Avenue). Hosted by me and author Lija Fisher (The Cryptid Catcher). On-site book sales by the Boulder Book Store. 3:00-4:30 pm.

Saturday, April 25, 2020
The MINNEAPOLIS screening, at the Minneapolis Central Library (300 Nicollet Mall) in Pohlad Hall. Hosted by me and Newbery Medal winner Kelly Barnhill (The Girl Who Drank the Moon). On-site book sales by the Red Balloon Bookshop. 3 pm.

These screenings are huge fun. That’s why we consistently draw sold-out audiences of hundreds of folks! Thanks so much to my hilarious, enthusiastic co-hosts for being part of this.

Do you want to bring the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival to your town? Every year we expand into more cities, and I’d love to come to yours! Drop me a line at james@90secondnewbery.com.

And now, for the sake of completeness, here’s the edited-down version of The Black Cauldron, Dungeons-and-Dragons style. Cutting this movie from over nine minutes to less than five minutes was tough, but the job got done:

Now go out and make your own 90-Second Newbery movies! Remember, the deadline is January 10, 2020. I can’t wait to see what you create!

(Want to ensure I can pull off this weird operation for another year? Please seriously consider donating to us here, through our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. All donations are tax-deductible.)