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90-Second Newbery 2017: PORTLAND and TACOMA!

April 17, 2017

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.

I’m late posting this, but better late than never!

On February 11 and 12, we did the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in Tacoma, WA and Portland, OR. Thanks to John Hargis for taping our opening skit in Tacoma (which you can watch above). In it, I along with co-hosts Keir Graff and Doug Mackey learn the true secret to winning Newbery medals. Special thanks to our young volunteer who played the owner of Fluffles!

I didn’t get a video of the opening skit in Portland, but here I am with Keir and my Portland co-host Dale Basye (author of the Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go series) and our audience volunteer Ramona (who is the daughter of my friend-since-childhood Raj!) right before the Portland show, at their historic Hollywood Theatre:

And here are some pictures from the Tacoma show! A gigantic THANK YOU to Sara Sunshine Holloway, for putting the show together at the Tacoma Public Library, year after year. Tacoma does it right: red carpet, prize statuettes for the filmmakers, popcorn and cookies, Hollywood-style posters of the Newbery-winning book covers, swarming paparazzi, a lot of genuine community support and good-feeling!

Let’s look at some of the standout movies we got from Portland and Tacoma this year.

Last year, the astonishingly talented 14-year-old Anya Schooler wowed us with her Claymation adaptation of Ruth Gannet’s My Father’s Dragon. This year Anya’s back with an even more impressive adaptation of Mary & Conrad Buff’s 1952 Honor Book Apple and the Arrow:

As the judges said in this full review on the 90-Second Newbery blog, “Simply amazing. I am floored at Anya Schooler’s meticulous craft and her inspired artistry . . . Anya gets more authentically emotional performances out of clay than I see in many real-life actors! Great voiceover acting too. The use of the ‘William Tell Overtrue’ was inspired, especially the way the movie’s action synched to the dynamics of the music.”

From Tacoma, Mr. Johnson’s fifth grade class at the Grant Center for the Expressive Arts did this excellent adaptation of Vince Vawter’s 2014 Honor Book Paperboy:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery blog, this movie was “assured, beautifully shot, and compelling to watch! It got the whole story of the book across efficiently and with style to spare . . . all the acting was impressive and subtle. The background music tied all the scenes together effectively. The cinematography was some of the best I’ve ever seen in a 90-Second Newbery.” (You can see the reaction from Paperboy author Vince Vawter on his own blog here!)

Rosemary Sissel from Tacoma has been doing great 90-Second Newberys for the past few years. Here’s her entry for this year, essentially a one-woman show of Gail Carson Levine’s 1998 Honor Book Ella Enchanted:

The judges on the 90-Second Newbery blog praised it thus: “Ella’s monologue elegantly frames the story and makes the narrative far easier to understand and follow. It was resourceful and funny to use cardboard cutouts for the co-stars. I appreciated all the fun touches: the cardboard mother ‘dying’ (and then getting thrown into the trash!) and lines like ‘you gotta be more chill!’ and ‘but the curse… but the kingdom… but his nose!!!'”

The Tacoma screening also featured Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s 1992 Medal Winner Shiloh, as adapted by Travis of Seabury School:

As the judges said,, “Solid from beginning to end! The cinematography of the movie was excellent . . . The script was tight and smart, it really condensed the story down to the essentials without sacrificing any of the personality of the book.”

I’d love to feature ALL the movies shown at the Tacoma screening in this post. But that would be too many videos! So here are links to each one of the videos we received from Tacoma this year, and featured at the film festival:

Jaek Andersen of StoryLab TPL’s adaptation of Holes

Aidan of the Seabury School’s adaptation of Lois Lowry’s 1994 Medal Winner The Giver

Sofia of the Seabury School’s adaptation of Katherine Applegate’s Medal Winner The One and Only Ivan

Bayden of the Seabury School’s adaptation of Misty of Chincoteague

Zakaria of the Seabury School’s Bud, Not Buddy

Luke of the Seabury School’s adaptation of The Black Pearl

Travis of the Seabury School’s adaptation of Shiloh

Karl of the Seabury School’s adaptation of Wringer

Sulli of the Seabury School’s adaptation of My Side of the Mountain

Sam of the Seabury School’s adaptation of The Long Winter

Armaan of the Seabury School’s adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia

I have a lot of people to thank for the Tacoma and Portland screenings. Of course, I must first thank Keir Graff, who has been on the road with me through so many screenings. He’s a great co-host! Go buy his splendid book The Matchstick Castle!

For the Tacoma show, my biggest thanks to Sara Sunshine Holloway and everyone at the Tacoma Public Library for bringing us out to the library yet again. Thanks also to special Tacoma co-host Doug Mackey for his comic stylings during the show. There’s a reason I love doing the show with Doug every year! Thanks again to our young volunteer for playing the role of Fluffles’ owner in the opening bit. Thank you also to Mike Hargis, everyone on the video crew, who made a real show out of this and did all the videotaping and camera work. And thanks to all the other volunteers at the library!

In Portland, thanks to Elisa Barrios, Marie Biondolillo, and everyone at Open Signal for setting up the screening. Thanks to the great folks at the Hollywood Theater for letting us use their space, and thanks to Ramona for being the caretaker of “Fluffles” in the opening skit. (Unfortunately, we didn’t get a video of that.) Also thanks to author Victoria Jamieson for dropping in to check out the videos of her great Newbery Honor-winning graphic novel Roller Girl, and for saying such nice things about the videos! (You can see those videos here, by Mason Public Library and Jillian Parrino).

And finally, of course, thanks to all of the filmmakers, and the parents and teachers who helped them!

You can go here to find out more about the 90-Second Newbery Film festival. Start making your movies now, due in January 2018!

Let’s close out this post with a look at the closing montage for the Tacoma screening:

And for good measure, also the closing montage for the Portland screening:

Thanks again! Looking forward to next year!

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.