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Behold the Brilliant, Bombastic BROOKLYN 2020 90-Second Newbery Film Festival!

March 15, 2020

Did you enjoy the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival? Do you want us to keep doing it? Then please help us out with a tax-deductible donation. Our fiscal sponsor is Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization.

I’ve got to be honest—in light of the current social-distancing recommendations, I’m shy about celebrating our recent screenings of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, which after all brought crowds together in the past few weeks. In any case, because of coronavirus, we have of course canceled/postponed our March and April shows in Boston, Salt Lake City, Ogden UT, Orem UT, and Boulder CO. (As for the Minneapolis show, we’re going to live-stream it. Details to come.)

But let’s look back with fondness on the screenings we did pull off! Back on February 22, what seems like a lifetime ago, we did the ninth annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at the Brooklyn Public Library, hosted by me and Newbery Honor winner Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer). Thanks so much for being a marvelous and funny co-host, Rita. Did you know she used to be Broadway dancer? Check out the video above—you can see she’s still got the moves. It’s our opening skit in which I’ve become a jaded old grump who has lost the Newbery spirit, and Rita helps me get it back in an accelerated parody of “A Christmas Carol.” (Thanks to Mohana and Glynnton for appearing in the skit too, you were hilarious!)

Thanks also to Brandon Graham and everyone at the Brooklyn Public Library who helped us pull this off. And of course thanks to the filmmakers, and the parents and teachers and librarians who helped them! The young filmmakers all posed onstage with Rita and me at the end of the show:

Every screening features a mix of locally-made movies and the best of the movies from across the country. Let’s check out the New York-made movies, and in particular a movie I’ve also shown across the country—of Shel Silverstein’s classic picture book The Giving Tree, adapted by Ella and Friends—

Wait a second, you say. The Giving Tree didn’t win a Newbery! And that’s true. But I’m sorry, this movie is too good to disqualify, because it really gives you a sense of how cruel that boy is, and how much the tree is suffering:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “The performances were hilarious, from the jerky little boy to the kind, put-upon, and finally furious tree. The tree costume demonstrated some resourceful craftsmanship, complete even with apples to pick . . . and the movie really starts getting funny when the boy does begin picking her apples, making her shriek ‘OW! Why does it hurt so much?!’ I enjoyed how the movie subtly snarks the logic of the plot: he could have cut down ANY tree, why HER in particular?”

But that’s not the only movie made by Ella and Friends! And this next one did win a Newbery Honor, in 1973—Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad Together. It asks the question, what if Frog were a scrunchie-wearing, “sksksksk”-whispering VSCO girl? And what if Toad were a mopey, self-pitying, all-black wearing goth?

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “Brilliant! From the very first lines (“Hey Toad, how are you?” “Miserable”) I knew this was going to be great . . . The performances were hilarious and pitched just right. I loved the details like how Frog and Toad had to look up ‘willpower’ of Frog’s phone, or how Frog in true VSCO fashion tied up the box of cookies with a scrunchie . . . This does exactly what 90-Second Newberys should do: take a well-known story and put a creative twist on it. Well-shot and great editing too.”

Every year we get a bunch of great movies from Mr. Adams’s class from the Foote School in New Haven, CT. Like this next movie, based on Neil Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal Winner The Graveyard Book, adapted by Elle, Lia, and Lydia:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “This movie covered an impressive amount of the plot in a very short amount of time! And there were many nice stylish touches too: good use of the doll prop for baby Bod, and the scary dark cloak costume for Silas the vampire. I also thought it was resourceful how the rocks in the field were used to represent gravestones in the scene where Scarlett meets Mr. Frost, and how the scenes in the Sleer’s lair are shot with appropriate dimness. The part where Mr. Frost draws a knife on Bod was a fun action scene too!”

How about doing your 90-Second Newbery in the style of a movie trailer? That’s what this next movie by Louis, Henry, and Amber does, based on Katherine Applegate’s 2013 Newbery Medal Winner The One and Only Ivan:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “It was resourceful to use stuffed animals to portray Ruby and Bob, and animal costumes for the other animals Ivan and Stella (and a wig for Julia!). The peppy music and intertitles explaining to plot were just enough to keep the audience’s understanding on track. Fun performances, especially Julia and the stern look on Mack’s face as he wags his finger at the camera . . . A brief and fun sprint through the story!”

Here’s another movie based on The One and Only Ivan, adapted by Conall and Dylan of Lloyd Harbor School of Huntington, NY. Check out the amazing gorilla costume:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “The performances were engaging and fun to watch, especially the cruel guy who runs the mall zoo and the way he and his minions push the animals around. The movie whips through all the major plot points but never feels rushed, with time for lots of quiet moments of the animals telling each other stories.”

We actually featured a lot movies from the Lloyd Harbor School! The next movie is of Victoria Jamieson’s 2016 Newbery Honor Book Roller Girl, adapted by Allison, Jenny, and Zoe:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “An accurate and entertaining adaptation of the book, true to its spirit! I liked the way that Astrid often addresses the viewer directly to narrate the story and keep everything clear and on track . . . The performances were enthusiastic and it looked like everyone was having a good time making this.”

The next movie from Lloyd Harbor School we featuerd was of Louis Sachar’s 1999 Newbery Medal Winner Holes, adapted by Max and Will—ingeniously, in Minecraft:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “The movie very effectively uses Minecraft to pull off shots and situations that would have been difficult is real life, like the part with the police car, or the scene in the courtroom, or how it uses an extreme wide shot to show how Stanley is lost in the desert wilderness, and then gradually zooms in on him when he digs his hole and finds his treasure . . . I like how, at the end, after he finds his treasure, Stanley hops into a car (which looks like a Tesla cybertruck?) and zooms away to enjoy his riches. Brutally abbreviated, fun to watch!”

Here’s another version of Holes from Lloyd Harbor School, adapted by Hannah, Kiersten, Molly, and Siena:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “A tight script, fun energy, and committed acting . . . I liked how the movie indicated a cave by having the characters disappear behind the gap in the green-screen curtains! The black-and-white flashback to 1878 was handled well, and I loved the infectious goofy spirit that fills this movie, culminating in the wonderful ‘The Curse Is Broken’ song and dance at the end.”

I love it when homeschoolers get in on the act. Especially when the movie is itself about homeschoolers! The next movie is of Stephanie S. Tolan’s 2003 Newbery Honor Book Surviving the Applewhites, adapted by Brooklyn Apple Academy in collaboration with Cottonwood ALC. Stick around for the rousing ‘Sound of Music’ singalong at the end, complete with blorping tuba:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “It was a clever and resourceful idea to transpose the rural ‘Creative Academy; of the book to the urban setting of Brooklyn . . . I appreciated how this movie took the time to get the details right, like Jake’s punk haircut . . . The arson scenes were creatively handled, burning a cardboard building gets the idea across quite well! . . . Entertaining, never a dull moment!”

Jillian and Joseph Parrino have been making marvelous 90-Second Newbery movies ever since 2014 (you can check them all out here). I always love their creative twists on the stories, like this next one, their adaptation of Richard Peck’s 1999 Newbery Honor Book A Long Way from Chicago:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “This was a funny, clever movie that sneakily also managed to summarize a lot of the book without breaking a sweat! The format of having a the grandchildren directly address the viewer to describe the Grandma Dowdel, complete with pictures and video, was inspired. The brisk peppy music, crisp editing, and tight script kept everything moving quickly . . . This is what a 90-Second Newbery should be: a simple idea, executed with craft and humor, that gets across the story and is funny and interesting and comprehensible even if you haven’t read the book.”

The final local movie we featured is another one, like The Giving Tree, that didn’t actually win a Newbery—although it was written by a Newbery Honor winning author, Gennifer Choldenko. It’s the picture book Dad and the Dinosaur, adapted by Glynnton Buckley (who was in the opening skit with his sister Mohana, herself a 90-Second Newbery moviemaker):

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “I liked how this movie echoed some parts of the picture book exactly: for example, opening with the main character Nick’s foot on a soccer ball. We jump right into the story, quickly describing Nick’s fears at the beginning (while showing some of those things he feared), and demonstrating his father’s lack of fear by having the man not flinch at all even when a snake is slithering on him! There was good visual storytelling when showing how brave Nick is when he has the dinosaur (like riding a bike through a puddle or scaling a climbing wall). The movie told the story efficiently and with style.”

. . . And those were the local entries for the 2020 Brooklyn 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! Thanks so much to Brandon Graham and everyone at the Brooklyn Public Library for helping me to put this on. And the biggest thanks of all to the young filmmakers, and their parents, teachers, librarians, and others who helped them make these movies. I’m already 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.

Oh, and if you like what we’re doing here, and want to see it continue into next year, 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.

See you next year!

The Splendor, Sass, and Stupendousness of the SAN ANTONIO 2020 90-Second Newbery Film Festival!

March 10, 2020

I’ve been on the road a lot, but I can’t let another day go by without talking about what an amazing time I had at the San Antonio screening of the 2020 90-Second Newbery Film Festival on February 15!

Just as in the past few yeares, it was held at the Witte Museum, and it was sponsored by the great folks at H-E-B (especially Christa Aldrich) and BiblioTech (especially Laura Cole, Carlos Sauceda, and the rest of her team) and the Hidalgo Foundation (thanks to Judge Nelson Wolff and Tracy Ann Wolff).

This is the sixth year we’ve done the 90-Second Newbery in San Antonio. It’s the city where we get the largest crowds and the most movies, and it’s all because of the incredible team and resources Bibliotech, H-E-B, and the Hidalgo Foundation put together, year after year! Thank you so much. I always love coming to San Antonio.

This year my intrepid co-host was the charming, game-for-anything, dryly hilarious Carolyn Flores (author of the picture book Canta, Rana, Canta and more). She was an absolute pro from the word go, with great comic timing. She pulled off the opening skit and the between-movie banter with verve and style. I don’t have a video yet of it, but I’ll put it up when I get it. In the meantime, here we are:

This year we had just under 600 registered attendees (although I think we had maybe 400 in the audience) and way over 100 Texas submissions. The show kicked off with speeches from the San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (!!) and Hollywood actor Tony Plana. What an honor! The mayor had spoken at the film festival last year too, which was awesome, but this was the first time I’d met Tony Plana. I was too shy to tell him how much I appreciated him in of one of my favorite scenes from the endlessly-quotable 1980s comedy classic The Three Amigos. Tony Plana played Jefe, the second-in-command to the bandit El Guapo, and often in my life I’ve thought of the “Plethora of Pinatas” scene. Below, Tony Plana’s to the left, and Mayor Nirenberg is to the right (with organizers Christa Aldrich and Laura Cole):

Anyway, on to the movies! San Antonio is the only city where I show strictly ONLY locally-made movies, with no ringers brought from out-of-state. And it’s the only screening where we have cash prizes for the schools, libraries, and groups who made the movies, thanks to H-E-B!

The grand-prize-winning movie this year was adapted from the 1972 Honor Book Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles, and it was done by Alinne and Brenda Romero-Torres of the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in San Antonio:

And here is their movie, which is so good I’ve shown it at every screening in all the cities in 2020:

As the judges said in part of the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “This is an all-time, gargantuan, demolishing-all-competitors amazing 90-Second Newbery movie . . . Everything about this movie is beautiful: the background music, the turning of the pages as they get whited out to make way for the animated images, the way the pages seem to cut themselves into ribbons and weave themselves together! The spoken narration is beautiful and sensitively done . . . A magnificent achievement!”

Second place for the middle and high school category went to Juárez Elizarraraz of the Advanced Learning Academy for his brilliant and resourceful one-man show version of Avi’s 2003 Medal Winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. Here he is with his brother Galileo, who won an honorable mention in the elementary section for his animated movie of Fred Gipson’s 1957 Honor Book Old Yeller. (Juárez also helped out in the opening skit, which I’ll get online as soon as possible!)

Here’s Crispin: The Cross of Lead:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “What a masterful one-man show! The cinematography was crisp throughout, with lots of great closeups and insert shots — and a tour de force in the scenes where the single actor, playing two different roles, ‘fights’ himself! . . . This movie tells the story of the book in a unique, enterprising, and resourceful way!”

And while I’m at it, here’s brother Galileo Elizarraraz’s movie of Old Yeller, also of the Advanced Learning Academy, which won an honorable mention in the elementary category. It’s done in an animated style:

As the review says on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “Brilliantly animated! I liked the background music, the clear and witty narration, and the great artistic details like the roaring bear, the glow of love around Shiloh, and the various goofy expressions of the characters. The voiceover was refreshingly irreverent . . . Brisk, enjoyable, entertaining!”

But wait, I skipped the third place winner for high and middle school! It was based on 2018 Newbery Honor Book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, and it’s by Michael and Brandon of Thomas Jefferson High School:

As the judges said in part (full review here), “I loved the charisma and enthusiasm of this . . . The cinematography was crisp and tight and worked well with the narration to tell the story, like when he’s getting a good grade on the test or the girls are cooing over him. I’m totally taken with the satisfied, smug look on the haircut guy’s face, it’s his attitude that makes the movie!”

There was also an honorable mention from the high and middle school category that I want to highlight, and it’s an adaptation of Gary Paulsen’s 1988 Honor Book Hatchet by Jackson Nettleingham of Katy, TX. Here I am with Jackson when he’s receiving his award:

(Why do you keep making that face, Kennedy? Stop making that face!!)

And here’s his video of Hatchet. (I’m having a hard time embedding it, so you’ll just have to click the link to see it.)

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “The cinematography of this movie is fantastic . . . I appreciated how this movie dispensed with the initial bits about the mother and the plane and dove straight into the meat of the story: how Brian survives against the wilderness! I liked the attention to detail in the camerawork, such as the closeup shot of Brian’s hand as he uses the bow and arrow, or the bird as it falls . . . Minimal and yet tells the whole story. Well done!”

This year, we had a separate category of rankings for movies received from elementary schools. The first place in the elementary category went to this movie of Cece Bell’s 2015 Newbery Honor Book El Deafo, made by Sophia R., Joe C., Miguel M.-G., Zoe V., Danae R., Ivanna H., Camila G., Keily M.-M., Perla R., Santos R., Naimah C., Malakie R., Louis V., Mario O., Julian T., Jesus P., Nathaniel Y. of Price Elementary:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “I loved how many parts of this movie were done in the true telenovela style, with lots of amusing overacting and over-the-top melodramatic performances! Doing the whole thing in Spanish (with English captions) put a really fun and unique twist on this video . . . A real joy to watch!”

Second place in the elementary category went to this movie of Jerry Spinelli’s 1991 Newbery Medal Winner Maniac Magee, made by 3rd and 4th Grade of Lamar Elementary Wondercourse Students:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “The stop-motion animation in this movie is super impressive . . . I loved in particular the flying tears, the ‘yelling’ lines coming from Maniac’s parents, the way Maniac’s hand snatches a football out of the sky, how Amanda’s book gets ripped in half, and the looming buffalo! . . . I liked how the stop-motion animated figures were all monochromatic black and white . . . The paper cutouts were all done in a compelling style that was simple and clear without being too obvious. This movie rocks!”

Third place for elementary schools went to this movie of Arnold Lobel’s 1973 Newbery Honor Book Frog and Toad Together, made by Amara, Ailani, Angel & Eric of Collins Garden Elementary. I was lucky enough to get a picture with them:

And here’s their wonderful movie:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “Utterly charming . . . The music selection sets the fun tone beautifully. The voice performances made me believe that Frog and Toad are good friends and are going to have a thoroughly good time whever they are together. The claymation Frog and Toad are nicely done in their simplicity and I like that the movie took an abstract approach with all the scenery and props.”

There were two honorable mentions for the elementary section. I already mentioned the first one, which went to Galileo’s animated version of Old Yeller. The other honorable mention in the elementary category went to this movie of Wanda Gag’s 1929 Newbery Honor Book Millions of Cats, made by Carlos V & Eric U of Madison Elementary:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “This was a very impressive use of stop motion! The movements were so fluid! It was an original idea to use Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head to represent the old man and old woman, and the use of pom-pom puffballs for the cats was clever and resourceful . . . I was amused at how the cats ‘fought’ — by throwing the puffballs around crazily!”

There were a lot of other great Texas-made movies featured at the screening, but we don’t have space in this blog post to mention them all! But you should check them out by clicking on them here:


The Year of Billy Miller by My’Ariah S, Mason H, Laila O, Jace B of Miller Elementary (San Antonio, TX)

Bridge to Terabithia by Antonia Dunsmore of Colony Meadows Elementary (Sugarland, TX)

The Book of Boy by India D., Patricio H., Julian N., Sophia R., and Angelica S. of St. Anthony Catholic School (San Antonio, TX)

Frog and Toad Together by Aria, Anabel, Brooke, Alaina, and Viktoria of Young Women’s Leadership Academy Primary (San Antonio, TX)

Hello, Universe by Marely R, Braeson B, Isaiah A, Marely R, Paulina C, Khloe R, Anastasia G, Gizzel F, Makayla A, K’marie A, and Solomon C. of Armstrong Elementary SSAISD (San Antonio, TX)

The Tale of Despereaux by Eloisa B., Alexis E., Arturo P., and Scotty F. of Carvajal ES (GT) (San Antonio, TX)

The Graveyard Book by Eric C., Adelaide H., Israel G., Achilles G., Nyssa D, Layla V., Angelo C., Gracie H., Selin C., Melanie G., and Dayvan C. of Frances M. Rhodes Elementary (San Antonio, TX)

Johnny Tremain by Cecelia Weaver, James McGuyre, Grayson Weekley, Ivana Kovalska, Kat Luna, Alicia Washington, Gabriel Dittfurth, and Ryan Shaw of St. Luke’s Episcopal School (San Antonio, TX)

Millions of Cats by Josephine A., Ian F., Aleksander G., Serenity S., Owen S., and Oliver V. of Hawthorne Academy-2nd Grade GT Students (San Antonio, TX)

The Westing Game by Trinity Episcopal School (Austin, TX)

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!

Oh, and if you like what we’re doing here, 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.

The Madness, Majesty, and Mirth of the SAN FRANCISCO 2020 90-Second Newbery!

February 26, 2020

On February 9th, 2020, we screened the ninth annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at the beautiful San Francisco Public Library! I co-hosted it with the effervescent Marcus Ewert (author of picture books 10,000 Dresses, Mummy Cat, and Mr. Pack Rat Really Wants That). Check out our opening skit above, in which Marcus helps regain my Newbery spirit through a Christmas Carol-esque succession of ghosts, culminating in a rewritten version of “The Greatest Show” from The Greatest Showman (and thanks to Caleb for his cameo in the skit!).

This was one of the liveliest, best-attended San Francisco screening we’ve had, with lots of local participation! Thanks so much to the whole team at the SFPL—Jim Jeske, Lyn Davidson, Kenny Avila, Catherine Cormier, Megan Anderson and Meghan Monahan! And thanks so much to my friends Alisha and Sharon for putting me up again, and taking me and my friends out after!

And of course, thanks so much to the young filmmakers, and the teachers, librarians, and family who helped them make their movies. Some of them came onstage after the show, and we had a photo op, or perhaps a murder scene:

At the screening, we showed a mix of movies: some were ringers from all across the country, and some were standout movies made locally. Let’s look at the local Bay Area-made movies!

For instance, here’s an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal Winner The Graveyard Book, done by Sterne School Film Club:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “An extremely impressive stop-motion retelling of the first chapter of The Graveyard Book! The cemetery was detailed and elaborate, the animation fluid and full of personality . . . The music and sounds throughout created just the right spooky atmosphere. Bonus points for the fun credits sequence!”

The next movie is of Rita Williams-Garcia’s 2011 Newbery Honor Book One Crazy Summer, adapted by Ms. Szeto’s Fourth Grade Class of Gordon J. Lau Elementary School:

The judges praised this movie as (full review here), “A fascinating and creative change to the plot of One Crazy Summer: instead of being about three African-American girls visiting their Black-Panther-affiliated mother in 1968 Oakland, California, it’s three Asian-American boys visiting their mother in San Francisco’s Chinatown to rally to free the pandas. Great acting throughout, especially the curt, emotionally withholding mother . . . A fun, creative reimagining of the story.”

Now let’s check out the San Francisco Public Library Afterschool Video Production Club’s movie based on Jerry Spinelli’s 1991 Newbery Medal Winner Maniac Magee:

The judges said on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “Engagingly acted, professionally produced, surprisingly meta retelling of the story! I liked the combination of the use of green screen, black box theater, and live exterior locations to tell the story . . . I liked how at a certain point we exited the story entirely to listen in on the kids reading the book and bicker about the best way to adapt it into a movie. A meta move! It was fascinating to see them critique the book (“I don’t buy that. Nobody would do that”) and it was also goofy fun to watch the bloopers at the end during the credits.”

Another great local movie was this adaptation of Lois Lowry’s 1990 Newbery Medal Winner Number the Stars, by Carolina, Adolfo and Luis of Dolores Huerta Elementary School:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “I liked the casual, breezy energy of this movie . . . The performances were entertaining throughout, but my favorite was that of the most low-key, ridiculously ineffective Nazi of all time (I particularly enjoyed his shrugging mumble of “never mind” when Annemarie lies to him in a totally unconvincing way). A quick sprint through the story!”

Here’s another movie by Dolores Huerta Elementary School. It’s of Katherine Paterson’s 1978 Newbery Medal Winner Bridge to Terabithia, and it’s adapted by Andrea, Juana and Eylin. The twist? It’s a puppet show, and it’s all in Spanish (turn on the subtitles to read the English translations)!

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “It was a fun choice to tell the story in the style of a puppet show, and I also thought it was a good choice to include the names of each character on the puppet, to keep everything clear. The curved paper at the end indicating the “bridge” was an ingenious touch. Everyone’s voiceover acting was emotional and expressive, especially when Leslie died. Fun to watch!”

Here’s another version of Neil Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal Winner The Graveyard Book, also from Dolores Huerta Elementary School, adapted by Neala and Clementine and Caleb (who was in the opening skit!):

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “This movie got off to a rousing start, with the ominous chirping of crickets giving way to bloodcurdling screams as the Man Jack murders the parents (whose post-murder corpses are gruesomely lingered upon!). The portrayal of Baby Bod was humorous and fun to watch, especially when he drops out of the cradle at the start . . . This movie was very resourceful, for instance repurposing a ‘Wet Floor’ sign to be a gravestone, or how Bod fights off enemies armed with nothing but a milk crate. I liked the hyperacceleration of the plot, how Scarlett is both introduced and dismissed within the same scene! But I wonder, who are those two folks with the backwards hoodies whom Bod defeats at the end??”

The last movie movie I’d like to highlight is of Rebecca Stead’s 2010 Newbery Medal Winner When You Reach Me, adapted by Astral and Defy of Star Stuff Academy:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery blog (full review here), “A creative, inventive, and visually unique sprint through the story! I liked how the story was told through artfully posed Lego figures (in particular, that Lego man depicting Dick Clark was perfectly chosen). The glitchy old-timey 1980s VHS video effect was a smart choice, situating the viewer in the era of 1979 when the story of the book happened . . . The voice acting throughout was expressive and conveyed the main plot points clearly and with a lot of emotional engagement. I was impressed that you went through the trouble to get the theme music for the $20,000 Pyramid for that scene, complete with crowd noises.”

And those were the local entries for the 2020 San Francisco 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! Remember, it’s never too early to start making movies for next year. The deadline is in January 2021, but you can turn them in anytime! Complete details, including tips for filmmakers, can be found at the 90-Second Newbery website.

Thanks so much, San Francisco! I’ll see you next year! And if you enjoyed this FREE film festival, please consider making a donation to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. It’s tax-deductible. Our fiscal sponsor is Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

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