Jun 7

JET alum James Kennedy curates Second Annual 90-second Newbery Film Festival

This just in from the so-original-you-have to see/meet/read-him-to-believe-him James Kennedy (Nara-ken, 2004-06), author of the acclaimed young adult novel The Order of Odd-Fish.  Make sure to watch the “Heart of a Samurai” video below–one more example of a JET alum generating interest in Japanese language and culture in ways the Japanese government could never have possibly imagined. (See explanation further below.)

Preparations for the Second Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival are underway! The 90-Second Newbery is a film festival I curate in which filmmakers of any age are challenged to make movies that tell the story of a Newbery award-winning book in 90 seconds or less.Full details here. The deadline for video submission is October 29, 2012. Details about screenings in New York and Chicago—including special celebrity guests—below!

But first, check out the latest submission above! It’s of Margi Preus’ fantastic 2011 Newbery Honor book, Heart of a Samurai. The movie is by Alex, Amy, Izzy, Asher, and Zach from Burley Elementary in Chicago. Full disclosure: I helped with this one! And here’s our twist: we did the film in Japanese, even though the students, er, don’t know Japanese. I helped with the script and pronunciation. There are storms at sea! Whales! Burning beards! Fistfights! It’s also slightly longer than 90 seconds. Oh well. ENJOY!

So where will the Second Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival be screened? So far we’ve nailed down the New York and Chicago dates.

The New York City screening will be Sunday, December 2, 2012 from 3-5 pm atSymphony Space. Just as last year, it will be co-hosted by me and former Ambassador for Children’s Literature Jon Scieszka. I’m also thrilled and honored to announce our two special guests: Newbery winners Kate DiCamillo (2001 Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie and 2004 Medal winner A Tale of Despereaux) and Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer, 2011 Honor Book). Whatta lineup!

The Chicago screening will be Sunday, February 3, 2013 at the Pritzker Auditorium of the Harold Washington Public Library from 2-4 pm. My co-host will be New York Times bestselling author Blue Balliett (Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, The Calder Game, The Danger Box, and more).

Whoa! This is some serious kidlit literary firepower! It’ll be an honor to share the stage with these leading lights children’s literature. Just as before, we will feature not only movies, but also a kind of singing, dancing live Newbery cabaret show. Don’t miss it!

Curious about how the screenings went last year? Here are recaps of the screenings in New York City with Jon Scieszka and Rebecca Stead (2010 Medal winner When You Reach Me),Chicago with comedian Seth Dodson, and Portland with Laini Taylor (Lips Touch,Daughter of Smoke and Bone).)

Want to make your own 90-Second Newbery film, but feel daunted by where to start? You can download a step-by-step guide on how to make a 90-Second Newbery movie here. It’s by Debra Ross, the mother of the superfamily that made one of the best 90-Second Newbery videos I’ve received, an adaptation of Linda Sue Park’s 2002 Medal winner A Single Sharddone in the style of Sijo (a traditional Korean poetic form).

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Debra and her family (including Madison and Ella from the movie) in real life at the Teen Book Festival in Rochester, New York. Debra’s also the mastermind behind Kids About And About, an events resource for Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, and Fairfield County, CT.

What book will YOU adapt for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival? Learn all about the film festival here!

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