Jury Coordination and Notes

Childhood Memories of Favorite Disney Movies by Raven Devanney, age 16

June 5th, 2014

There are certain things from childhood we remember. Events, people or things that we can recall and somehow stick with us for life no matter how insignificant they may seem. I have the most random memories from when I was younger, and among those memories I find films scattered about.

I was the type of kid who watched everything. Sure, the Teletubbies were a regular occurrence on my TV, but my parents began showing me classics from an early age. I watched documentaries about the strangest things, definitely topics most 6-year-olds wouldn’t usually consider entertainment. But out of all the films that I have ever watched, classic Disney animations have stuck with me the most from my childhood.

I’m not sure what it is about good old fashion animations, but I will always have time to sit down and watch “Alice in Wonderland,” “Snow White,” “The Aristocats” and so on. I think what makes movies special are the feelings we happen to associate them with, and remembering feelings that you had when you were little is wonderful. The cinema is supposed to be an escape of some sorts, taking you away from the real world. So when I curl up with a good Disney movie it transports me for a brief time back to when everything was so simple. Having a very hectic life that I’m assuming will only get more chaotic with age, an escape, or almost a time machine to simpler times is a life saver.

I remember watching “101 Dalmatians” religiously every time I visited my grandmother. I had every toy to go along with the film and I have the fondest of memories of my grandmother and I playing with our little plastic Dalmatians while watching the film and eating micro-waved popcorn on her fuzzy grey carpet. I also have a deep love for “Lady and the Tramp.” I have always found that film so sweet. I even named my cocker spaniel “Lady” after the leading pup from the film. I had Lady since I was 5-years-old and she traveled the country with me, comforted me when my little heart felt broken, and of course watched dozens of films with me. She passed away earlier this year after a fantastic 11 years with me, so “Lady and the Tramp” is even more sentimental now.  One of my favorite Disney films that probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of Disney is “The Brave Little Toaster.” I remember that film terrified me when I was growing up but, as a child whose best friend was the vampire that lived in my closet, I enjoyed films that scared me. So “The Brave Little Toaster” to this day is on my list of obscure favorite movies (and for some reason it still creeps me out a little).

Because of these memories, and the many others that I associate with just about every Disney film out there, they will always be special to me even when I reach my adult years. I think that’s what makes any film special and what makes it a classic. I know that now, we are constantly bombarded with high tech special effects and stunning visuals, so it’s easy to forget where the film industry started. Even with animated films, things are so much more advanced. You never really see good old fashioned sketch art on the screen any more. It’s always the digital images that you’d see in “Frozen” or “Toy Story.” I think that because of what I’ve grown up watching, I’ll always prefer to watch “Aladdin” or “The Lion King” over a newer animation.

Classic Disney animations will always have a soft spot in my heart, and I know everyone out there has a film, or films, that take them back to the good old days. Whether it’s a Disney movie or an obscure foreign film, childhood cartoon, indie documentary or the Teletubbies, there’s something that warms everyone’s heart. What’s yours?

A Night to Remember - Keefer Blakeslee

May 26th, 2014

The AFI Life Achievement Award is the highest honor in The American Film Institute. It is given to those who have left an impact of legacy in the film business. This year it will be awarded to Jane Fonda on June 5th . I bring this up because it has been a year since KIDS FIRST! gave me the opportunity to report at Mel Brooks AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony where I actually met Mr. Brooks in person. I was on the red carpet and it was the first time in my life that I was speechless. However, I finally broke out of it and interviewed him. During that whole encounter, we shook hands and did not let go - probably because I could not move anything but my mouth. Once we finished talking I said “thank you” and looked into the camera and said, “It’s good to be the kid!” Following that, I attended the ceremony and watched the venerable Martin Scorsese give Mel his award. That is still my favorite moment as a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.  I’m still blown away that they made that possible for me. Mr. Brooks is truly my hero, someone who I admire among all the many wonderful people in the entertainment world. So, thank you again KIDSFIRST! for giving me a night to remember. I have been a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic for more than a year and it just keeps getting better and better. I can’t wait to see what happens in the year ahead.

Women in Film - by Brianna Beaton

May 21st, 2014

As Americans, and as human beings in the film industry, where would we be today without the women in this industry? They take roles as actresses, directors, producers, screen writers, set designers, makeup artists, costume designers, casting directors and many more. Women add so much by expressing, creating, loving, showing, introducing, molding and pursuing so many different aspects in filmmaking. I want to share with you some of my female heroes - the women that were the first to do things that people only thought men could do. My purpose is to show all the young women interested in filmmaking, or other careers, that you can do it! After all, these women did. They are the pioneers for females in the workplace around the world. They show us through their work (their masterpieces) and their lives that you can do anything if you are passionate about it.  Here are some of my favorite women-in-film role models: Alice Guy-Blache’ -  the first female film director; Janet Gaynor - the first female to win an Oscar; Joanne Woodward - the first female to be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Elizabeth Taylor -  the first female to be paid one million dollars for a single film. There are many more. I hope you find this as interesting as I do and are inspired to follow the journey of many female artists who are working in the film industry today. I certainly plan to be someone who makes my mark sometime in the future, guided by these outstanding women.

I love you moms with all my heart - Happy Mother’s Day!

May 14th, 2014

Mother’s day is something special - a day where moms are the ones who should relax, who should have fun. I have twice the fun on Mother’s Day because I have two moms. In the ‘industry,’ people do things to make moms feel appreciated as well. Google glass made a film just for Mother’s Day called “Seeds” - a short 5 minute film. A YouTube group did an interesting experiment. They gathered a group of people and did a survey. “What if you did not get paid. You worked all day, everyday. You have to drive everywhere and be available immediately at any point of the day.” Who would want this job and what type of job it would be? The majority of answers were - it’s a job of being a mother. Another thing Hollywood did is released a comedy called “Mom’s Night Out.” Everyone wanted to do the best for Mother’s Day, but sometimes, you just can’t say it in words how much you want to give, for how great mothers are. Kids can’t get their mothers expensive presents or luxurious vacations that they deserve so it’s hard to find a perfect gift that will clearly say “I love you and appreciate what you do for me every day.” This Mother’s Day, I got my two moms something, small, simple, yet nice. I hope they like it. Many times, kids just give their mothers hugs, saying, “You’re so great.” I couldn’t find a good enough present so I gave them this:

They are  a miracle
They are  a gift
They help us everyday
from December to May.

They drive us places
even though cars make mazes.
They cook, clean and pay for us.
They don’t make us ride the bus.
They pay, all day, from December to May.

They would go from where to the sky is grey
to San Francisco Bay.
All for us,
they are the super hero without a cape,
they are the perfect humans in millions
they would make us 100 crepes!

They are best
better than the rest
I have 2 in my home
that are better than all of Rome!

They are my loves, my moms.
They deserve the world.
The ones that I give my palm
The ones that I want to give the universe to.
I love them so much.
They even are there when I go boo hoo.

Just the softness of their touch,
is comforting.
They are my moms
and they are my role models.
My heroes.
I love you moms with all my heart - Happy Mother’s Day!

Gerry Orz, age 12, comes from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA and has one older sibling, Dennis. He enjoys watching movies and football, cooking and traveling with his family, playing video games and is an avid filmmaker who writes and makes movies with his friends. Gerry’s favorite film is Jack and Jill. His favorite actors are Ellen DeGeneres and Adam Sandler. Ellen because she is amazing, funny, smart and so kind. She inspired Gerry to believe in himself and try to make a difference in the world. As a result, he has produced a number of educational movies and created a non-profit organization called Kids Resource. Adam Sandler is his other favorite actor because “he is an amazing actor and comedian, always stays true to himself.” Gerry is a huge fan of directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and he aspires to become a film director, producer and writer. “I want to make movies that will have a positive impact on today’s youth and will inspire them to follow my footsteps to a better tomorrow.” He is already off to a great start, having produced several films including a short, Day of Silence, that inspired a new bill in CA to proclaim 12/12/12 Bullying Prevention Day. Gerry received many emails thanking him for making that film. “We heard stories where parents believed that my movie saved their child’s life.” On 12/12/12 at 12 p.m., Gerry had followers in six states and four countries joining in a moment of silence. “I plan to expand in coming years and get more people on board to honor 12/12 and work towards making the world a better place.” As a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Gerry enjoys learning more about movies and film making and improving his own movies so they can be included in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival.”

Meet Your Film Critic - Keefer Blakeslee

May 8th, 2014

Keefer Blakeslee, age 13, lives in the greater Los Angeles area, part time. He has three older siblings who are all married. His dad passed away six years ago so he and his Mom are enjoying their life together. They play chess, swim, skate, and watch and critique movies together. Keefer likes riding his bike, cooking, watching Nostalgia Critic on the Internet and reading his favorite book “Life Itself: by Roger Ebert.” Keefer loves so many films it’s difficult to pick one. If he had to, it would be The King’s Speech because he could watch it again and again. It has amazing acting and an incredible story. It’s also difficult for him to name a favorite actor but Mel Brooks and Jim Carrey would have to be at the top of the list. “They are both funny and great actors that really know how to capture their audience and make them laugh.” When he grows up, Keefer wants to be an actor, comedian, critic, director, producer and screen-writer. He is most proud of proving to his mom that he deserved moving to California so he could pursue his career. His favorite film critics were Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. “They were so entertaining. I loved listening to their reasoning and watching them bicker. I read Roger Ebert’s film reviews to the day he died.” As a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Keefer enjoys being able to speak his own opinion to people who love movies because, “if you’re going to pay to watch a movie, it had best be a good one!” He also found out how much he enjoys writing.

Meet our KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Brianna

May 1st, 2014

Fourteen-year-old Brianna Beaton lives in Clermont, FL with her parents. She has a 23-year-old sister who lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her favorite things to do with her parents are play board games, watch TV, and cook. Brianna also likes to read and write stories. You can find Brianna playing tag, swimming and just goofing off with her friends who call her BB. Brianna’s favorite movie is I am Sam. Brianna looks up to actress Drew Barrymore because she started acting young and is the kind of person who doesn’t care what anyone says about her. Brianna wants to be a successful actress and a restaurant owner when she grows up. She also wants to write a fictional novel. She is most proud that she has been performing in theatre plays and won Best Actress, Most Dramatic, and Most Reliable awards in her theatre school. As a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Brianna enjoys sharing and expressing her feelings about films through video and/or written reviews. KIDS FIRST! gives her many opportunities to write.

Become a Local Film Critic and Get Free Stuff!

June 17th, 2013

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s not! KIDS FIRST! wants to hear from you. We want everyone to be a film critic and show that kids’ opinions matter. There is no entry fee, no contest… simply submit your video review and get your prize.

Every child age 18 and under that submits a video review of any film or DVD (rated PG-13 or under) will receive a gift card toward a media skin from our friends at ZINGrevolution.com and/or a certificate good for a free movie ticket at your local theater (sponsored by Quantum Rewards). Prizes only available while supplies last – but we have plenty to give away right now!

Visit our KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local website for details on how to submit your review.

You can review any film or DVD (PG-13 and under) that you wish, but here are some DVD suggestions from KIDS FIRST! that can be purchased or rented locally:

Space Warriors (available at Walmart)

LEGO Batman The Movie: DC Superheroes Unite

Take a moment and check out some of the reviews by KIDS FIRST! National Film Critics on our website for ideas.

Local Film Critics are needed throughout the U.S., so go see that great new film that’s in the theater, or pull out one of your favorite DVDs and get the cameras rolling!

Is It Really Appropriate? Epic in Retrospect…

June 3rd, 2013

RATED_PG.svg.jpgAt KIDS FIRST! we use a different style, more specific, for determining age recommendation than the Motion Picture Rating (MPAA.) These ratings have meaning, and before you attend a film it’s important to read reviews - KIDS FIRST! reviews will give you a lot of insight and IMDB will also give you specifics on warnings related to the MPAA rating.

In case you don’t know the real meaning of the MPAA rating PG, it stands for “Parental Guidance Suggested” and the full description is:

Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents are urged to give parental guidance as the motion picture contains some material that parents might not find suitable for younger children.
Such films may contain only mild violence, language, drug references, brief nudity and/or implied or inferred sexual activity.

See what KIDS FIRST! has to say about Epic, our reviews, synopsis and recommendations by clicking here. Why do I bring this up? This weekend I attended a screening of Epic with my ten-year-old son. We prefer non-3D. The theater was relatively empty (probably because it wasn’t the 3D version) but in attendance were about 15-20 preschoolers with their moms. So it made me wonder, what does PG mean to them? In our KIDS FIRST! youth reviews of this film, our seven-year-old Film Critic, Adam C. points out that this film is “appropriate for ages six and up as there are some scary parts of the movie that I wouldn’t recommend to kids under the age of six.”

Throughout the film the mother next to us had to continually soothe her preschooler with “everything is okay,” and “see they are going to be okay.” While he told his mom, “I’m scared,” and asked “What is happening now mommy?” Clearly this young child was not prepared for the intense imagery, the suspense and extreme scenes of “good vs evil.” In fact, it’s unfair for any child his age to have to deal with evil and dark images and be expected to make sense out of them.

Please, save the good and evil messages, the battles and intensity for when your children can developmentally make sense of them. You will avoid many nightmares, confusion and the annoyance of others in the theater who do not sit with their older children to listen to your scared child and mommy explanations.

We loved Epic. It was exciting and colorful. It had a message beneath the message and if you are old enough, you know that the dark is needed to make the light continue - or at least your old enough to discuss the concept.

Hear more discussions about the film Epic on KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions Radio Show. You can also check out some of our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics’ video reviews by Brianna B. and Anthony A.

The Newest “Star Trek” Takes Us Back To The Early Days

May 21st, 2013

StarTrekID_1.jpg“Star Trek into Darkness” is the second movie based on the original TV series and, for those of us who grew up watching this show, brings back all our favorite characters - Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Sulu (John Cho.) The storyline is also reminiscent of those of the past but fleshed out with 3D, great character development, outstanding sound effects and good acting throughout. Our youth film critics were wowed by the film. Patrick N., age 13, commented that it “left me in awe and thrill.” It also brings attention to the close brotherly relationship between Captain Kirk and Spock. In the end, Patrick finds a new passion for “Star Trek” as you can see below.

“Star Trek into Darkness”

By Patrick N.

View Patrick’s full video review here!

Satirical, emotional and epic are the only words to describe the new movie “Star Trek Into Darkness.” I got a chance to visit the Paramount Lot for an exclusive screening of this movie, which left me in awe and thrill. Although this movie is a sequel to the previous “Star Trek” series, movie goers who are not familiar with the story will understand the plot clearly. The actors portray their characters very well thanks to the director, J.J Abrams. The scenery and set for the futuristic year of 2240 are so vivid and realistic, audience members will forget they are in the year 2013. This movie is also produced for the IMAX 3D, which puts all the explosions and fight scenes in your face.

The relationship of all the characters on the iconic Starship Enterprise are deep and meaningful. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachery Quinto) develop a brotherly love through the struggles they conquer. The Villain, Khan (Benedict Cumberpatch) is a scary two-faced character that will leave the audience guessing his fate until the very end. Not only does the main star achieve his role perfectly, but the co-stars also do an superb job. The writers, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof successfully add comedy to the script bringing an emotional roller coaster to the audience.

The set ranges from modern skyscrapers to futuristic spaceships. The designers portray the theme very well, using many computer generated images to create the year of 2240 in a way that make it seem so real. The 3D element is an added bonus because it brings the action up close. The beginning scene has a lot of running and fighting sequences and yet it is all filmed in such detail that the characters seem like they are going to run off screen.

After watching this movie, my passion for “Star Trek” has been sparked! I rate this movie 5 out of 5 because it balances the comedy and action scenes so well. It has multiple themes taking place but the on-going theme, “the power of friendship can build you or destroy you” is present throughout. This movie contains a handful of violence but is not bloody or graphic. The action sequences, violence and realistic make-up could be scary for younger audience members so, I recommend this for ages 13 to18. This movie has sparked an interest in “Star Trek” for me and hopefully it will do the same to you.

Be a Film Critic and Get Free Stuff!

May 6th, 2013

KF_FilmCriticsLogo1.jpgThis just in… KIDS FIRST! is now accepting kid’s reviews on any family film for the KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local Campaign.

What does this mean to you? It means that your child can review any new theatrical release or film on DVD, PG-13 and younger, and for every review you submit, you will receive either a *free movie ticket or a free skin for your favorite mobile device from ZINGrevolution.com (while supplies last.)

It’s easy, fun and free — and you’ll be rewarded!

Visit the KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local website to see some of our recommendations and for instructions to participate.

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