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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery Film Festival: Chicago Screening 2015!

February 2, 2015

90-Second Newbery Chicago Collage

BREAKING! The 2015 Newberys have just been announced! The 2015 Newbery Medal goes to Kwane Alexander’s The Crossover. Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming and Cece Bell’s El Deafo both won Newbery Honors. CONGRATULATIONS to the authors of these great books. I can’t wait to see the 90-second movies of them!

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.

The fourth annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival premiered on Sunday, January 25! Just like last year, there was a huge last-minute snowfall, but just as last year, it didn’t keep the crowd away. Take that, weather! We filled up Adventure Stage Chicago and it was a great time.

I was fortunate enough to have the return of my Chicago co-host Keir Graff (author of The Other Felix and an editor at Booklist Online). We did an opening bit in which we postulate the acceleration of our film festival, leading to a 6-Second Newbery Vine Film Festival, and then a 1-Second Newbery Film Festival, which causes a rip in space-time that leads to us hurtling back through time . . . to meet John Newbery himself! WARNING: this involves some dubious singing, dubious dancing, dubious comedy:

This year had another amazing crop of movies. For instance, once again Jennings Mergenthal submitted another incredible stop-motion Claymation video. In the past he’s done Claymation versions of Hendrik Willem van Loon’s 1922 Medal Winner The Story of Mankind (watch) and of Jim Murphy’s 2004 Honor Book An American Plague (watch).

Here, in his best work yet, Jennings digs into yet another historical nonfiction Newbery book—Steve Sheinkin’s 2013 Honor Book Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon:

Bonus: the author of Bomb, Steve Sheinkin, somehow found out about the video and featured it on his blog! Fantastic!

Not to be outdone on the stop-motion front, this year also saw the return of Chicago savant Ada Grey, with her stop-motion version of last year’s winner, Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses:

I love the clever way Ada made the squirrel “fly.” And the voiceover performances are great, from the portentous comic-book-narrator voice to the eager Flora to the flat, deadened mother (“Go ahead, it would make my life easier”) to the panicking waitress (“Aah! It’s in my hai-ah! Help meh!”).

This year saw a big influx of movies from Highland Park, Illinois, mostly coming from Ms. Ott’s class. It was a real cornucopia! There were so many videos from her class that I have created a special page to showcase them all here. To get a taste of what Highland Park is cooking, check out Evan Diethrich and friends’ adaptation of Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s 1968 Honor Book The Egypt Game:

I loved Evan’s 100% commitment to April’s glamorous style (that wig! those eyelashes!). The older gentleman who played the shop owner was great, and I LOVED LOVED LOVED the horror music and extreme closeup every time he shows up. Evan and friends did a good job showing the Egypt Game ritual itself, complete with the appropriate costumes and accoutrements. And of course the final exchange of dialogue at the end is hilarious. Great work, Evan and friends! (Again, to see everything I got from Highland Park, with my comments, click here.)

So many more videos to share. I’m looking forward to bringing them to Oakland and San Francisco (this upcoming Saturday, February 7!), Tacoma (February 21), Portland (February 22), Minneapolis (February 28), Manhattan (March 7), and Brooklyn (March 8)! Details about screenings, including links to get your FREE reservations, here.

90SN show collage

Thanks to Brandon, Mary-Kate, Laura, and the rest of the good folks at Adventure Stage Chicago; my co-host Keir Graff; John Fecile for filming the opening bit; Chris Norborg for his uncanny portrayal of John Newbery; superlibrarian (and member of the Newbery committee this year!) Eti Berland for rocking the 90-Second Newbery social media; my financial sponsor Northwestern Settlement; and of course the young filmmakers who year after year make the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival into a success!

Before I go, here’s the montage of clips from most of the movies we showed on Saturday, which we used to close the show:

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.