Archive for May, 2011

KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp – A Summer Week of Fun and Learning

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

KF_BootCamp_AnthonyArandaInterviewingDannyGokey_forwebsite.jpgYes, it’s back! The popular KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp builds valuable learning around one of kids’ favorite activities: watching movies. Kids know what they like in movies; the program of this one-week summer day camp aims to help them understand why and how movies create the impressions they do.

With visual media as pervasive as it is in today’s world, such knowledge gives kids valuable tools that go far beyond the movie theater. Boot Camp director Janet Davidson brings her experience as a filmmaker to the program that teaches kids aged 12 to 15 how to look critically at individual elements, from directing and acting to cinematography, writing and art direction. Boot Campers will take in new films and discuss them, and will also view older films and compare published reviews with their own reactions to the films.

The fun part is when kids learn to perform on camera! They will develop confidence and self esteem – skills that will carry them into the future, even if their goal is nowhere close to being a film critic. We are looking to discover the next Lisa Guerrero or Ryan Seacrest but it may be that we find the next Zac Efron or Dakota Fanning. “The value of learning to perform in front of a camera is incomparable,” says Davidson, noting that kids often have strong opinions but become self-conscious about expressing them. “It will carry you in every walk of life.”

Other on-camera experiences will be in sit-down, two-camera interviews such as are seen on TV. The play-acting (one kid is the star, the other is the interviewer) also goes with staging red-carpet interviews. “If they want to dress up, that will be fun — and acceptable,” says Davidson.

Whether kids dream of a film-related career or not, understanding the dynamics of how a film is appreciated will be a valuable skill. And Davidson notes, “Because film encompasses so many attributes of life, appreciating film can help them also appreciate more of life.”

Santa Fe, N.M., hosts the first KIDS FIRST!’s Film Critics Boot Camp this summer, June 13-17. The next week, June 20-24, it is scheduled for Albuquerque, N.M. Los Angeles offers it July 11-15. And the camp will be available in Annapolis, Md., July 18-22. For more information and to sign up, visit http://www.kidsfirst.org/become-a-juror/BootCamp.html.

Photo: KIDS FIRST! film critic Anthony Aranda (eight years old) interviewing Danny Gokey (“American Idol,” Change of Plans)

KIDS FIRST! Best of Fest Award Winners for 2010

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

KF_BestAwards_forwebsite.jpgNinety-one shorts and feature films met KIDS FIRST!’s standards for combining excellence in filmmaking with pro-social benefits to be selected 2010 winners of the annual KIDS FIRST! Best Awards. High-profile theatrical releases and specialty DVD series from major studios – like How to Train Your Dragon and Shrek Forever After, both from Paramount Pictures, and Anchor Bay Entertainment’s Wow! Wow! Wubzy! – make up about one-third of winners, with indies and student productions making up the other two-thirds. Categories are, of course, arranged by age recommendations, but additionally, student and independent films are judged in their own categories to provide them the best opportunity to be judged among their peers.

Picnic Productions gave us the animated indie short “Pups of Liberty” for ages 5-8, recasting the historic Tea Party of the American Revolution with easy to differentiate players: dogs as the Americans and cats as the British. For the 5- to 12-year-olds, Sustainlane Media gives a rocking rock ‘n’ roll animation, “Gorilla in the Greenhouse: Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” that makes a strong case for environmental awareness using lingo that connects with its target audience even if it may leave some of the parents struggling to keep up. High-school student Alex Fjellberg Swerdlowe scored high marks for his live-action drama The Complex (trailer shown here), tackling adult themes with a mature hand.

Visit http://www.kidsfirst.org/filmfestival/2010/Best2010Winners.html to see the complete list of this year’s winners, with links to some of the shorts. More about the awards, including previous years’ winners, are also on the KIDS FIRST! website’s Best Awards page. KIDS FIRST! will be launching a virtual film festival this year where all short films accepted for festival play will be available to view online. Watch for the announcement.

KIDS FIRST! Best Awards are given annually to films and screenplays that have screened at the KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals and special screenings nationally and world-wide. The nominees are drawn from more than 800 titles that are submitted to the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival. Then, from the 300 that are accepted, five nominees in each of 30-plus categories are selected. The first-, second- and third-place winners are determined by our senior jury, comprised of child development specialists, media professionals and film programmers.

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