The 90-SECOND NEWBERY Film Festival
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The 90-Second Newbery is a program of the KidLit Foundation, an Illinois literacy nonprofit.
Get ready for next year! The deadline for videos for the 3rd Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is December 10, 2013. Rules and details below.
Check out recaps of last year’s New York screening at the main branch of the New York Public Library, the Chicago screening at the Harold Washington library, and the Portland screening at the Multnomah County Public Library.
The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is a video contest in which filmmakers of any age make movies that tell the entire story of a Newbery award-winning book in 90 seconds or less.
Ever since 1922, the Newbery Medal has been recognized as the most prestigious award in children’s literature. But it turns out that any book, no matter how worthy and somber, becomes pleasingly ludicrous when compressed into 90 seconds. Check out our 90-second version of A Wrinkle in Time in the video above. Scroll down for even more great videos.
Teachers, here’s a fun project that will get your students reading Newbery winners. Students, here’s an excuse to mess around with video equipment. Librarians, here’s an activity to do with your teen advisory boards. Anyone can enter. Everyone wins!
1. Your video should be 90 seconds or less. (Okay, okay: if it’s two minutes long but absolute genius, we’ll bend the rules for you. But let’s try to keep them short.)
2. Your video has to be about a Newbery award-winning (or Newbery honor-winning) book. Here’s a list of all the winners.
3. No book trailers! No video book reports! We’re looking for full-on dramatizations, with mostly child actors, that manage to tell the entire story of the book in 90 seconds.
4. Upload your videos to YouTube or Vimeo or whatever and send me the link at kennedyjames [at] gmail [dot] com. Make the subject line be “90 SECOND NEWBERY” and please tell me your name, age, where you’re from, and whatever other comments you’d like to include, including whether you’d like me to link to your personal site. You can give an alias if you want; I understand privacy concerns.
5. Sending the link to me grants me (James Kennedy) the right to post it on my blog and to other websites where I sometimes post content (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and to share at public readings, school visits—and hopefully the “90-Second Newbery” Film Festival screenings!
6. The deadline for the THIRD annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is December 10, 2013.
Intimidated? Don’t know where to start? I recommend checking out this handy guide of tips, tricks, and strategies for making a 90-Second Newbery. Usable as a classroom curriculum!
There’s loads of great material among the Newbery winners, ripe for a ridiculously compressed 90-second treatment. Here are some great entries we received in last year’s film festival:
A musical version of The Twenty-One Balloons (Medal Winner, 1948) done by Chicago’s own Elephant and Worm:
How about this 90-second version of Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, done by home-schooled kids in Michigan—made entirely with shadow puppets!
Or a Claymation version of Island of the Blue Dolphins (Medal Winner, 1961):
Newbery Honor books are fair game too. So if you want to do The Cricket in Times Square (1961) or indeed The Story of Appleby Capple (1951), then go for it (Come on, everyone knows the story of Appleby Capple, right? Right?!). Here’s a video of Newbery Honor winner Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, a book of verse about night animals by Joyce Sidman, done with puppets:
Indeed, this is a good excuse to snoop through old, forgotten Newbery winners. Many of them are unjustly forgotten. Even better: many more are forgotten for a reason. Not naming names, but some Newbery award winners are absolute stinkers, or even slightly offensive! But I have a feeling they’ll become delightful again if accelerated to 90 seconds. Here’s a hilarious takedown of 1960 Newbery Medal winner Onion John, a book which has not aged well at all:
In that spirit, we’re particularly excited to see videos that will actively mess with their subjects.
Everyone loves the tender, heartbreaking Bridge to Terabithia (1978), but you know what might make it even better? A 90-second machinima version done with the characters in the video game Halo (Confused? Here’s a Halo machinima version of Hamlet.)
Or how about breaking out the knights-and-dragons Legos for a stop-motion Lego video of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (2008)? Don’t think it can be done? Check out this stop-motion Lego version of the greatest story ever told, Super Mario Bros.
Or even, dare I dream, Charlotte’s Web done in the nightmarish style of David Lynch’s Eraserhead? Sign me up.
If the film is sufficiently ingenious, we might even bend the rules. Okay, I admit it: for years I’ve wanted to see the rodents of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (1972) fight their counterparts in The Tale of Despereaux (2004). Rat-fights make for gripping cinema!
Another title ripe for crossover? When You Reach Me (2010), with its myriad references to A Wrinkle in Time. What happens if we tweak its climax so that the host of “The $20,000 Pyramid” turns out not to be Dick Clark, but IT of Camazotz? Make it so, people.
Look, the American Library Association and I have had our disagreements. Ever since I exposed them as a bloodthirsty cult of obscene troglodytes, I’ve felt a definite chill from them. And it didn’t help when I tackled Neil Gaiman at the ALA conference and wrestled away his Newbery for The Graveyard Book (2009). People can be sensitive! I’m hoping that this “90-Second Newbery” Video Contest will mend fences.
Want to make a 90-Second Newbery video, but are daunted by the project? Download (PDF) this handy guide of tips, tricks, and strategies! Highly recommended!
Now go, dust off your beloved copy of Song Of The Pines: A Story of Norwegian Lumbering in Wisconsin by Walter & Marion Havighurst (1950), and make me a movie!
Posts about the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival: