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FATHER, THE
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FATHER, THE - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A beautifully-made and moving film, The Father depicts dementia in its raw, brutal essence and will surely make an imprint on your soul.

The French-British film centers around aging Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), an Englishman who "has his ways," as his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) says. As Anthony develops dementia and his condition worsens, Anne finds it difficult to balance her life with caring for her father. The film traces how the two of them go about their lives together and how the disease progresses. The Father is told in a jumbled manner because our perspective of the film is as Anthony would see it: All out of order. Anne's husband Paul (Rufus Sewell) and another man who Anthony thinks is her husband, a woman, and several caretakers all appear and disappear throughout the film. Even the settings shift, and you're never really sure where you are. Director Florian Zeller and his crew design both Anne and Anthony's apartments to look relatively similar which enhances that perspective of disorientation.

Anthony Hopkins has always played cerebral roles, so this more emotional one is unique in his repertoire. He sheds tears, flies into fits of rage, and immerses himself in the character of a strong-willed man slowly losing his grip on what's happening. The last scene is especially poignant and hard-hitting; no spoilers, though! Olivia Colman's portrayal of Anne is one that many who have dealt with a relative suffering from a progressive mental illness will identify with. It's incredibly realistic, and, at times, you forget that she's an actress playing a character. Anne herself is layered, especially in how she copes with Anthony's dementia, first keeping her emotions bundled up, escalating to emotional breakdowns, and eventually to some scary fantasies. Colman deals with these feelings beautifully, immersing herself much like Hopkins does. Director Florian Zeller isn't actually a director by profession; he's a playwright, and this film was adapted from his play Le P�re. He's a master storyteller, and you couldn't tell this is his first gig as a director. His attention to detail (especially with sets, something I'm sure he took from his career in playwriting), combined with his personal experiences (his grandmother was diagnosed with dementia when Zeller was 12) make this film an earnest yet unsettling project.

The Father cries out to its viewers to enjoy life while they have their senses and to show compassion toward those who have begun to lose (or have already lost) a clear view of the world. It's a sobering portrait of mental illness and yet an empowering film for those coping with their individual struggles. There is some profanity, slight violence (Paul slaps Anthony), and Anthony and Anne's father-daughter relationship gets a bit abusive at times.

I give The Father 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults; younger kids could watch the film if they feel comfortable with themes like mental illness. The Father releases on-demand on March 12, 2021.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Father is an excellent depiction of the reality for many elderly people. This film offers insight into the minds of those that suffer from dementia and how they think. We see how this illness affects not only the patient, but their loved ones.

The Father follows Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), an elder suffering from dementia. The motion picture shows how his mind plays tricks on him. He forgets names easily and he sees his daughter differently, as in with a different face. He also imagines people are there that do not exist. All the while, his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) struggles to find her father the perfect caretaker.

This film really is an eye-opener to the reality of dementia. Not only is Anthony forgetful, but his attitude changes rapidly in the blink of an eye. In one scene, he is all happy and jazzy as he converses with a young woman, and then he is angry and demands that he doesn't need a caretaker. He believes that he can outlive his own daughter and even talks about what he would say at her funeral. In another scene, he even forgets his name and calls out for his mother. This film is perfect for the loved ones of dementia patients. The movie offers the perspective, ideas, and confusion the victims go through. It also serves as a guide by showing how Anne deals with her father's outbursts and how her love stands strong to always help him. Not once does she give up on her father, insisting he deserves the best care.

The moral of this film is that love conquers all, even the impossible. With the decline of Anthony's mental health, he always has family by his side. Anne always does what is best for her father, including finding the best caretaker in London. Once Anthony is in a home, his nurse has the patience and love to answer his questions, comfort him and put his needs first. There are warnings that go along with its PG-13 rating. Mild profanity is sprinkled throughout the film, along with realistic depictions of mental illness.

I give The Father 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 17 to 18, plus adults. It premieres on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu February 26, 2021.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


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WE ARE SILVER DAZZLERS (2021)

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WE ARE SILVER DAZZLERS (2021) - ROBERT SICO
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Documentary about the dance team from Harlan High School in San Antonio, Texas......The Silver Dazzlers! Go on a journey with these amazing young ladies, and watch as they experience an incredible season that included dancing at the AT&T Center, the Alamodome, and of course, dancing for their school. Plus, see how an emotional football season changes the dance team forever, and why being a Silver Dazzler can be life changing. "You think it's just learning how to dance...but it's so much more than that. "Adriana N�jera - Dance Team Director
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - We Are Silver Dazzlers is a documentary about a dance team at Harlan High School in San Antonio, Texas. It showcases the journey associated with being a Silver Dazzler. This documentary also shows the bond that the dance team has and how they overcome the hardships of competitive dance with one another.

This film is appealing because, no matter what age someone is, they have been a part, or will be a part of some team. Whether the team is a group of people at work collaborating towards a common goal, or a sports team, one can relate. A child would enjoy this because they can look up to the girls on the dance team. They can possibly be inspired by their hard work and dedication to their sport. I also think dance is very entertaining to watch, so child may enjoy it for the entertainment aspect.

This documentary flows well. It begins with the stories about how the girls got onto the team, highs and lows they have experienced together, favorite performances and moments together, and then what life might look like after the dance team. I also enjoy the intercutting between video footage of the performances or practices and the interviews. It's a perfect balance between the two. I felt empathy for the girls being interviewed because I remember the feeling of being part of a dance team and then graduating and having to move on. Everyone knows the feeling of having to move onto the next stage of their lives and it can be very hard.

The material and vocabulary are suitable for the intended age group. It is also not word heavy regarding dance terms; even if one does not have a dance background, they can still understand what the girls are discussing. There is a section in which the death of a fellow student is discussed. It does not go into detail regarding the death, but this topic still may be hard for some viewers.

The camera quality is quite good. The dance team's costumes are very ornate. The music is mostly royalty free music, but I did notice some pop songs here and there, which made me wonder if the filmmaker has the license to use them.

This film shows the viewer that being part of something good, such as a hardworking dance team, has positive outcomes for not only the thing they are part of, but for themselves also. Viewers can appreciate the importance of working hard under pressure. To paraphrase a quote from the film: do not take the small things in life for granted, because when you look back on your memories, you will realize how big those moments actually are. Do not be sad it's over; be happy it happened.

I give We are Silver Dazzlers 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Reviewed by Tor F., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - We Are Sliver Dazzlers, by Robert Sico, is a tremendously encouraging documentary that is very exceptional.

This documentary is about a dance team that consists of a group of young girls from a high school in San Antonio, Texas, that share the same passion under the amazing leadership of Adriana Najer, who teaches them the meaning of dedication which makes them become great stewards.

This film explores the true meaning of friendship and family. It follows a realistic journey of today's times and a first time experience for a lot of things; listening to the individual testimonies of the girls is so heartwarming. The audience gets an upfront, behind the scenes look at what it takes to be part of a phenomenal dance team. This film is a tear-jerker and you might catch yourself grabbing a tissue to wipe your tears. The way Robert Sico captures the positive, happy and sad moments is really superb; capturing real life stories and keeping it relevant to today's youth is very brightly done. This film is so modern, from the background music to the uniforms. The way the director captures the girls' stories is dazzling.

The message of this film is you don't have to be biologically related to be a family. And we see how behind a great leader is a great "family."

We Are Silver Dazzlers is a sentimental and beautiful documentary. I recommend it for ages 13 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

By Deena H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I love watching the bond among the members of this high school dance team in the documentary We Are Silver Dazzlers! The combination of candid interviews from the team members with footage of the team's dazzling dance numbers creates an emotional journey as they reflect on past dance seasons at Harlan High School. This documentary highlights the thoughtful intentions and dedication the Silver Dazzlers put into their dances and I am in awe of the loving support they have for other members of their high school community.

The documentary catalogs a full season with the Silver Dazzlers dance team as they choreograph, practice and perform routines at school sporting events, pep rallies, and destinations like the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Alternating between dancers in their sophomore, junior and senior year and Coach Adriana N�jera, the team talks through the significance of their bejeweled costumes, behind the scenes of important performances, and their individual journeys to become join the treasured team. Additionally, as members of the Silver Dazzlers in the team's first year, the graduating seniors discuss the legacy they have built through the dance team and the values they hope to pass on to the next generation of Silver Dazzlers.

Although the documentary is a bit long at 90 minutes, it is neatly organized into sections like "Pep Rallies" and "A Football Season to Remember." I love the choice to utilize vlog footage from the dancers in the documentary. In contrast to the dances, the vlog perspective pulls the audience closer to the dancers and provides a unique look at what the Silver Dazzlers do behind the scenes of their performances. The dancers' signature white hat and cowboy boots are stunning when they perform on the football field, but I also love the creativity of their other costumes, like the ripped t-shirts in their Halloween performance and bright red sequined coats in a dance from their first season. The film features many emotional moments from the dancers, with a lyrical dance from football season standing out among the rest as it was dedicated to the loss of a fellow student. The dancers are extremely eloquent when talking about their fellow students and impactful in relaying the drive and disappointment the football team felt when losing a big game that year. I also like the music choices in this film. For example, when a dancer becomes emotional during an interview "Human" by Christina Perri slowly crescendos, mimicking and highlighting the girl's raw emotions.

We Are Silver Dazzlers portrays the perseverance of a closely knit team, and champions the importance of supportive relationships within a team. This documentary also promotes a strong work ethic and dedication.

I give We Are Silver Dazzlers 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 and adults will enjoy it as well.

Reviewed by Bella F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

We Are Silver Dazzlers is very entertaining and inspiring. The down to earth story and really connects to the audience on an emotional and humble level.

This documentary follows a group of dancers and their journey throughout their high school years. Adriana Najera, the dance teacher at Harlan High School, teaches a group of 23 girls dances they perform at events such as pep rallies, football games, competitions and more. Throughout the years, these girls form a sisterhood and become amazing leaders and friends.

All of the girls that are interviewed are so kind-hearted, humble and passionate. Throughout the film, they all show their passion for dance and performing. Through hard work, dedication and teamwork, they celebrate their accomplishments together. The way the dancers talk about each other shows that they truly have a great bond. They act as if they are just one big family and connect to the audience through their stories and emotions. We watch the team experience hills and valleys and, in the end, it is all worth it because they all get to do what they love to do. Throughout film their outstanding costumes shine, from the original ones used at football games and pep rallies, to the sparkly and shiny ones used at conventions and competitions, they consistently wear dazzling uniforms.

The message of this film is that a successful team takes friendship, hard work and determination.

I give We Are Silver Dazzlers 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18.

By Taia P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
BLACK MILL, THE - WOJIECH STUCHLIK
Series: INDIE FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - THE BLACK MILL is modern scary story for kids, referring to classic fairy tales of Brother Grimm or Jan Christian Andersen and modern series like Stranger Things on other hand. Group of teenagers have to face and fight the mysterious forces. Also learn what can help them most in their uneasy life: friendship, empathy and love. As well as acceptance of poverty and disabilities. Film gives safe adrenaline rush to the young viewers and helps them to face difficulties in complex real life situations.

Twelve year old Iwo lives in a small, post-communist town. With destroyed Black Mill - once a place of work for many parents. Breaking the promise to not approach the old mill - the children accidentally unleash its evil powers. From that moment nothing will ever be the same again. Objects and adults start to disappear.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - A unique story full of many twists and with a heartwarming ending, The Black Mill is a great movie that holds suspense and intrigue for the viewer, with the ultimate message of what family is really about and how grief can really impact a family's wellbeing.

Iwo is a young child who has lost his father in a tragic accident at the local mill. He lives with his mother and his mentally disabled sister, which he resents for the conditions of which his life has turned. After mysterious disappearances in the city, Iwo and his group of friends decide to discover what or who is behind all the mess.

The story is well constructed; it really shows the emotional development of Iwo and his attitude towards his family. He starts out resenting his mother and, especially, his sister. But, as the story develops and all the twists that happen, he learns what is really important in life. Also, the story has unique takes on themes such as grief, sadness, unemployment and the unknown.

The camerawork is well done. The locations are beautiful, because most are in natural locations in Germany where the film is from. There are scenes with breathtakingly beautiful forests and lakes and others show life in an area a bit isolated from the rest of the city. The background music and sound effects definitely are perfect in how they add to the suspense of the film. Each time something interesting or completely unexpected is about to happened, the music turns low, slow or soft to create the effect of suspense and intrigue. Mariusz Palej directs the film; Magdalena Niec is the writer and Wojciech Stuchlik is the producer. All should be commended for their excellent work. The actors are not credited.

I have two favorite parts of this film. The first is all the breathtaking scenes of the forests, the lakes, and the little houses that are part of their daily lives. The other is the ending, as it shows the meaning behind the entire journey that the characters experience and shows that we need to appreciate our unique and different family experiences. It brought tears of joy to my eyes.

The message of the film is to value our families, even when our situation is different from other families. In this case, Iwo learns to accept and appreciate his sister Mela, who is mentally disabled. Throughout the movie, we learn to understand the Mela's uniqueness and how she actually is primordial for the well-being of the family and other members of the small community. Sometimes in life we have unexpected situations that we cannot control, but we can control how we react to them. This movie made me appreciate my family and celebrate the differences that I have with my brothers or my parents, because those differences are what makes us humans and connects us to one another. You should know that there is some mild profanity and it shows kids doing risky things that other kids might imitate. Also, almost everyone in this movie uses the "r-word" to refer to Mela, which is not politically correct and may be seem as a slur towards people with disabilities.

I give The Black Mill 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This film is highly entertaining and I was intrigued and expectant throughout the entire duration. I was not expecting some of the twists, which made it even better. The only thing I would say is that the film contains some strong language and scenes that may be too shocking for little children, so I would recommend it for older teenagers and adults. Reviewed by David O., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like The Black Mill as it has an amazing sense of suspense and kept me on the edge of my seat! The storyline is full of surprises and plot twists. It was very gripping and made me want to know what was going to happen next. There are also many relatable plot points, which makes it a good watch for most ages.

After a devastating fire, the local mill lies untouched. Widowed, Iwo's mother is left responsible for him and Mela, who needs extra care. But after many mysterious occurrences, it is up to Iwo, Mela and his band of courageous friends to discover what really happened at the Black Mill.

I love how hard it was to predict what would happen next. The story is creative, adventure-packed, and does not fall into the common trap of predictability. The writers keep the story moving nicely, making sure to eliminate unnecessary plot points that could confuse watchers.

I particularly like scenes at the beginning, when the camera is partially submerged in the lake. This really gives a sense of reality, as one can picture oneself there. There are also lots of scenes with low light, giving a sense of suspense as it is hard to see what is going on. This helps viewers feel the same fear that the character in the film are feeling. The setting at the apartment building is realistic; it looks slightly run down, but still sturdy. I also really like the set of the mill, both before the explosion and after. This is because it is vast and also black and white which is a positive because it matches the same sad feeling of the scene. Throughout the film, the same musical theme is played in tones such as sad, suspenseful and happy. This helps us tie the story together and carry it along. The special effects where Mela is flying and fighting the fire are poorly executed and not believable. Iwo, played by Iwo Wicinski, is a very relatable character. We watch him go through a personal journey from self-importance to empathy and compassion, and Wicinski, though relatively young at the time, shows these emotions perfectly. His sister, played by Pola Galica Galoch, discovers her true strength and defends her family fiercely. Pola embodies these views of strength well, and shows emotion very well. Iwo's friends, played by Michal Lupa, Oliwia Ogorzelska and Mateusz Winek, play the classic role of young friends. They portray traits such as loyalty, bravery, and intelligence. There are some popular polish actors in this film, such as: Marcin Dorocinski (Iwo's father), Magdalena Niec (Iwo's mother) and Ireneusz Koziol (Mr Marian).

The message of this film is that sometimes people who don't seem useful to you can be powerful, and that people gain strength in times of crisis. It does show children rebelling against their parents and putting themselves in dangerous situations.

My favorite part of this film is the ending, as it shows all characters coming to a personal conclusion such as young Mela learning how to walk, and Mama Iwa owning her own bakery.

I give this film 4 out of 5 starts and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. This is a good film for older children and parents, but not so much for younger children as there are potentially scary scenes. Reviewed by Maddy T., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


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CROODS, THE: A NEW AGE

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CROODS, THE: A NEW AGE - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - The prehistoric family the Croods are challenged by a rival family the Bettermans, who claim to be better and more evolved.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Croods: A New Age is sensational because of the clever and colorful graphics, funny and realistic conflicts.

The storyline is about the Bettermans not liking the Croods. They must learn how to get along with one another and they have many adventurous life lessons along the way.

I like the story line because it's relatable to real life. The family conflicts and differences make the movie unpredictable. The characters are well developed. The production is state of the art. It is highly colorful and engaging from start to finish. The film is a great follow-up to the first one. My favorite part is when the main characters, Phil Betterman and Grug, are in the Jacuzzi.

The message in the film is that we do not have to look the same and we all have far more in common than we realize. It's okay to look different.

I give The Croods: A New Age 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It releases November 26, 2020

Reviewed by Bailey Rae F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


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OWN THE ROOM

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OWN THE ROOM - NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ENTERTAINMENT - LA
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 11=18
Description - "Own the Room" chronicles five students from disparate corners of the planet as they take their budding business ventures to Macau, China, to compete in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. Santosh is from a small farming town in Nepal; Alondra works the register at her family's bakery in Puerto Rico; Henry is a programming wiz from Nairobi; Jason is a marketing machine from Greece; and Daniela, an immigrant fleeing the crisis in Venezuela, is taking on the chemical industry from her lab at NYU. In the uplifting film, each of the business hopefuls has overcome immense obstacles in pursuing their dreams, from hurricanes to poverty to civil unrest. As they represent their countries as the top student entrepreneurs, the high-stakes global finals are their opportunity to win worldwide attention and the coveted $100,000 grand prize to make their life-changing business ideas a reality and transform the world.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Own the Room is a new feature documentary from National Geographic Documentary Films directed by Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster. This directing duo delivers an uplifting movie that has us digging into our "emotional toolbox" as we follow the heartfelt journeys of young entrepreneurs bringing change for future generations. The optimism of these individuals is so incredible and can certainly be appreciated by anyone working hard to pursue their dreams.

Own the Room follows the paths of five young innovators from across the globe who showcase their business plans to "change the world one big idea at a time." These individuals overcome cultural obstacles and push the limits in order to reach the top. Santosh, Alondra, Henry, Jason and Daniela have each qualified to represent their country at the annual Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in Macau, China. Each has the dream of taking their business to the next level to become the world's most influential change-maker. Aside from setting their eyes on the prize of $100,000, each hopes to raise awareness that "no matter where you come from, it does not define where you are going." They are each proud of their culture, their family support, and the chance to represent their country.

I enjoyed the emotional conversations in which the students share their cultural backgrounds and find their words to be genuine and spirited. Their determination, confidence, and fearlessness kept me wanting to see more. Costantini and Foster are clever to include the lifestyle, family background and the obstacles that each of these students face. That allows viewers to appreciate the students' journeys even more and perhaps to gain a better understanding of each of the young entrepreneurs' business ideas. The cinematography is fantastic, taking us into five areas of the world and showing viewers a variety of ways of life. The society in which you live does indeed partly shape you as an individual, and yet this documentary proves that it doesn't have to hold you back.

Own the Room delivers many messages and mainly demonstrates how determination is at the root of all success. If you are determined, you will be driven to work hard to achieve no matter how many obstacles confront you. Challenges serve to strengthen us. It is this determination that we see in each of the student entrepreneurs and which becomes so inspiring to viewers. Given the current state of the world right now, an inspiring film such as Own the Room is exactly what we need.

I give Own the Room 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. Adults would certainly love and appreciate this film just as much as kids. Own the Room will begin streaming on March 12,, 2021, on Disney+. Mark this date on your calendars because this is a film you're going to want to see.

Reviewed by Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 11-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
HOW THE TITANIC BECAME MY LIFEBOAT - BJARNEY LUDVIKSDOTTIR
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - The documentary "How the Titanic became my lifeboat" is based on a true story about an Icelandic boy called Brynjar Karl and how his fascination with the Titanic became his lifeline to independence. Brynjar's story began with an insatiable desire to escape the limitations of autism and become a part of the expressive, vibrant world around him. His fascination with Titanic pointed the way, his untapped talents set wheels in motion. While there is no cure for autism, there are ways to challenge it. The film explores those possibilities with Brynjar and other young people who share their experiences being on the autism spectrum and how their talent elevated them. Brynjar has become an important advocate for young people on the autism spectrum calling after acceptance and inclusion in the school systems and workplaces for people on the spectrum.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - How the Titanic became my lifeboat is a heart tugging cinematic masterpiece that will have you enlightened in the world of autism. Tell me, do you know what autism REALLY is? I didn't, until I watched this documentary. My own ignorance to such a complex and prevalent topic opened a new informed vision on how I see and view my autistic peers.

This documentary follows the real life story of Brynjar Karl. At the age of three he was diagnosed with autism. Knowing he was different from others, it was only until he found his "x-factor" or talent of building Legos that he was seen by others and to himself as a true extraordinary person. The addition of statistics and professionals to explain such convoluted stories helps make the documentary and stories more understandable and credible.

The camera quality is impeccable. The close-ups of the characters allows a personal contact with the individual that you usually don't get to see in a film. Brynjar Karl's fashion throughout the documentary is very young, hip and new. The different settings such as the beach with the beautiful water and the rocks, and the green, flower covered mountains, makes me want to move to Iceland! The background music is great in the scenes that have melancholy context, however in scenes of normal conversation and such the music is sometimes unsuitable. Brynjar Karl's story is very inspiring. His journey, as relayed in his own words, is very authentic and thoughtful. Bjarney Ludviksdottir directs this film in a way that is thought provoking, fun, and meaningful.

From the start the message of the film is projected as being unique and finding what your "x-factor" is to get out of your fog that might be your disability, your health, or life's problems in general. I learned what autism really is. Autism means something different to everyone, even those with autism. As Brynjar Karl explains "no two fingerprints are the same" and no two cases of autism are either. I learned that, from my lack of knowledge I have been ignorant to the many debunked stereotypes explained in this documentary.

My favorite part of the documentary is when Brynjar Karl finds out that his Titanic LEGO replica had been dismantled during transit. He then explains to his mom what she has always told him about never giving up and prevailing, even through the tough times. It is a very heartwarming scene that inspired me greatly. Brynjar Karl is now recognized for being the maker of the world's largest LEGO Titanic replica. We learn in this film how the making of his Titanic model changed his life forever and he even became a TED X speaker!

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. There is so much informational content that both young and older will benefit from watching this, from understanding this story and the stories of others and will learn to see past the disability and inabilities, and focus on their abilities. Reviewed by Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The beautiful documentary How the Titanic Became my Lifeboat is a thrilling, honest look at humanity. It starts out slow, but once it gets going, it captures you completely. Its focus is split between three people in a way that can be confusing, but all three plots are completely engaging. At times the film has a tendency to become a bit preachy and reiterate the same point repeatedly. However, it is very engaging.

The film is about a boy, Brynjar Karl, who is on the Autism Spectrum, building a LEGO model of the Titanic and how it changes him forever.

The film is narrated by Brynjar and his story is very uplifting. At times, the film wanders a bit - focusing on subjects less interesting, but it mostly keeps its focus. However, the beginning is a bit on the slow side, which is unfortunate. There are a number of interviews with autism specialists that describe the nature of this diagnosis. The cinematography is very good. One of my favorite shots is the shot of the entire model that Brynjar has built. It's a great shot that truly showcases the massiveness of the model - the largest model of the Titanic ever built. The background music is intermittent. My favorite musical moment occurs at the end, when hopeful music plays. In addition to following Brynjar Karl's journey, we are introduced to other characters. However, the most interesting person is Karl who is world-famous for building the LEGO Titanic model and for sharing his story at TED X. My favorite part of the film is the montage of Karl building his model ship. This is so well-edited I felt I was right there with him building it. Kudos to the filmmaker Bjarney Ludviksdottir, who followed Brynjar from beginning his journey at age 10 to the end - starting with the intent to document his building of the model, but discovering during the process, how it changed Bjarney in so many other ways.

The message of the film is your uniqueness is never a bad thing and that your dreams are worth achieving. This film is inspiring in so many ways. I truly believe it will be a hit at KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Sandrine A. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


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MINARI

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MINARI - A24
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream. Amidst the challenges of this new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Minari, a semi-autobiographical and earnest portrayal of an immigrant family, written and directed by Isaac Lee Chung, tugs at viewers' heartstrings and is surely a 2021 must-watch. The incredible starring cast, intricate storyline, poignant background score and perfectly punctuated cinematography all combine to make this Korean and English feature a beautiful masterpiece.

The name of the film, Minari, is another name for Korean watercress, which is key to the plotline. When the story begins the Yi family had immigrated to the U.S. from Korea years ago; Jacob (Steven Yeun) and Monica (Ye-Ri Han), parents to David (Alan Kim) and Anne (Noel Cho), are chicken sexers by profession. The family moves from California to the Ozarks for new opportunities. Specifically, Arkansas, where they are greeted by their new yet run-down mobile home and by Paul, an eccentric evangelist. As they settle into their new home, problems in the family begin to set in. In the name of bringing back a bit of the family spirit, Monica invites her mother, Soonja (Yuh-Jung Youn), to come and stay with them. The foul-mouthed, cards-playing, yet adorable halmeoni (grandma in Korean) arrives and totally shakes things up, bonding with the grandkids over growing minari, playing cards, and watching wrestling. When tragedy strikes, though, the family is put through a resilience test like never before.

Lee Isaac Chung took inspiration from his own childhood growing up on his parents' plot of land to create this film; it's personal, and it shows. This film is a "the summer when everything changed" type of story . Steven Yeun is, as always, masterful in encapsulating the minimal emotions and laconic speech of his character. Veteran Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn is my other favorite in this film; her character's feisty-yet-lovable grandma persona truly fits. She's an unwavering icon of the South Korean film industry and her experience shows. Also, the cinematography team for Minari, as well as the editing team, have worked meticulously to create a seamless viewing experience that accentuates emotions, waits for just long enough to switch scenes, and adds the perfect level of drama to every scene. Minari as a whole makes it feel like you're peeking into the Yi family's life--it's breathtaking.

The Sundance Award-winning film Minari is a priceless portrait of resilience within family, of sticking together even through the hardest times, and of enjoying the smallest things in life. Minari has some mild language and there are certain religious elements that parents should watch out for.

I give Minari 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Minari releases in theaters on February 12, 2021, and On-Demand February 26, 2021.

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Minari is a film that bears its soul, overflowing with heart and humanity, a snapshot of a family in metamorphosis, adjusting to their new surroundings, and all the challenges that come with that transition within their family unit.

Directed by Lee Issac Chung and partially inspired by his own upbringing, we see much of Minari through the eyes of David (Alan Kim), the youngest member of a Korean family that moves from California to Arkansas in hopes of starting a farm. As the movie starts, we're with David and his sister, Anne (Noel Cho) in the back of their family's car as they arrive at their new mobile home. David's parents, Jacob (Steven Yuen) and Monica (Ye-ri Han) are experienced chicken sexers, but it's his father's commitment to his vision of a new way of life for their family that pulls them halfway across the country, which sparks some disagreement between David's parents. Just as the relationship between David's parents reaches a boiling point, David's grandmother, Soonja (Yuh-jung Youn) comes to town, throwing a wrench in the family's already precarious situation.

Punctuated by mundane, yet memorable and ultimately powerful moments of warmth, Minari is kind of a knockout, and it achieves this through the power of its subtlety and simplicity. Minari functions as advertised: A family, a vision, a farm. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve without compromising the story it tells. There's a scene involving the swapping of Mountain Dew for bodily fluids, and also one in which a family member is struck by a sudden medical conflict and both are just as effective. It's very moving in the end, but tonally, it goes in multiple fairly disparate directions and arrives at a powerful coda, ending in neither triumph or defeat, but with a family having a newfound level of appreciation for what they bring to each other's lives.

In a time where seeing family, for many people, has been on pause--rendered unsafe by the current global circumstances--a movie about a family drawing together and marked by a fondness for those moments shared with loved ones feels meaningful beyond its intention to document Chung's childhood. It's an authentically American story that's told from the perspectives of those whose stories don't always get told. Ultimately, Minari derives its scope not from scale, but from emotion.

Audiences have been talking about Minari for over a year; it really is a gem, and I hope you'll seek it out. I give Minari 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages X to Y. Minari is currently playing in select theaters, as well as virtual cinemas, and it will be released in select theaters Feb 12 and on video on demand February 26, 2021.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
DOLPHIN ISLAND (2021)

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DOLPHIN ISLAND (2021) - ENTERTAINMENT SQUAD
Series: FEATURE, AGES 7-18
Description - After losing her parents, fourteen-year-old Annabel Coleridge lives with her fisherman grandfather on a Caribbean island paradise surrounded by an extended family of loving but quirky oddballs and her best friend, a dolphin named Mitzy. Everything changes when her rich maternal grandparents arrive with a shifty lawyer to bring her back to New York. It's up to her grandfather, her friends, Desaray, her new social worker, her charming son, Mateo, and Mitzy to find a way for Anna to stay on the island home she loves so much.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Dolphin Island is a very emotional and different movie. It has some scenes where you can just feel the emotions of the characters coming through the screen.

The story follows a girl named Annabel (Tyler Jade Nixon) who lives with her paternal grandfather Jonah (Peter Woodward). Her best friend is a dolphin named Mitzy. Then, her maternal grandfather (David Raizor) and grandmother (Annette Lovrien Duncan) come to take her back to New York with the help of a shifty lawyer (Bob Bledsoe). Now it is up to Annabel and her island friends and family and Mitzy to find a way to keep her on the island.

Wow, there is a lot to talk about in this film. First of all, there is quite a lot of drama with lots of very emotional scenes and excellent performances from the actors. Second, there is a dolphin in the film named Mitzy. Mitzy does lots of tricks and is a real dolphin. Her training is amazing; she impressed me so much with how she performs in this film. Also, the cast has lots of diversity. I like that, especially since the events of the last year that made us aware of the lack of diversity in movies. Lastly, the sets are remarkable. There are many locations around the island where this takes place, all of which take place on a Caribbean island.

The message of Dolphin Island is that love conquerors all; love is a bond that can't be broken and loved ones will always seek to find each other.

I give Dolphin Island 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to18. Dolphin Island will be available March 2, 2021.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Dolphin Island is an interesting movie because of the dynamic between the two characters, Jonah (Peter Woodward) and Annabelle (Tyer Jade Nixon). I enjoy the relationship between the characters and the humanity added to the dolphin is a unique touch. It is interesting to watch Jonah and Annabelle interact with the dolphin. I really love seeing the dolphin perform human tasks and seemingly communicating with Annabelle. This shows how the director, Mike Disa, humanizes the dolphin. Dolphin Island makes me believe the characters enjoy spending time with each other and they truly love one another. The only problem I have with the movie is the title. Calling it Dolphin Island makes me think there's a bunch of dolphins in the movie and they are the focus of the movie. However, the movie is good enough for me to quickly get over that disappointment.

The story is about a 14-year-old girl, Annabelle, whose parents die and who lives in the Bahamas with Jonah, her grandfather. Her best friend is a dolphin named Mitzy. Life is good until Annabelle's maternal grandparents (David Raizor and Annette Lovrien Duncan) show up with a lawyer and demand that Annabelle come to New York to live with them.

At times Dolphin Island can be sad and emotional, especially when it comes to Annabelle and her great loss. The actors portray the emotion you would expect from a family that loses a loved one. Annabelle's character says and does some things that I see myself doing in the same situation, such as treating Mitzy like a person. When Mitzy sprays Jonah, Annabelle says it is because Mitzy is a good judge of humor. Also, Peter Woodward (as Jonah) really seems to have a good relationship with Annabelle. For example, when Jonah says he wants to show Annabelle what it is like to be happy, I really believe his character wants this. Dolphin Island shows us the relationship between some of the people on the island with Annabelle, Mitzy and Jonah. Seeing those relationships makes us see why Annabelle is so happy on the island and how this helps her cope with her parents' death. The story offers a brilliant take on what makes a family a true family - sometimes family is by blood, sometimes by friendships, and sometimes with animals. Dolphin Island presents some unpredictable plot twists you don't expect along with strong character development.

The message of this movie is that family will always be there for you and that love conquers all, even when things are at their worst. Along with that strong message, just like the title suggests, Dolphin Island teaches viewers a little about dolphins and how lovable and smart they really are.

I give Dolphin Island 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Grownups will enjoy it as well. It is releasing March 2, 2021 on most digital platforms. Look for it.

Ayden P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Dolphin Island is a very funny and a heartwarming movie. This family friendly film has a cute and well trained dolphin that makes it very amusing to watch.

Dolphin Island follows a young girl, Annabel (Tyler Jade), whose parents are deceased and who lives with her grandfather (Peter Woodward) on a boat. Annabel's best friend is a dolphin named Mitzie who is trained to pick up trash from the sea. One day a social worker comes to inspect Annabel's living situation and later her other grandparents (Annette Duncan and David Raisor) arrive, wanting to take custody of her. Things fall apart and we discover that love wins in the end.

This movie has beautiful scenarios of the ocean and landscapes. The camera work is excellent. The dolphin gives this movie an interesting touch, because it is so well trained and the audience is amazed at what the dolphin is capable of. The storyline is very interesting and relatable. It is the type of life event that some children whose parents have passed, may have to go through. My favorite part is when the grandfather thinks he has lost Annabel, but really she's out swimming with Mitzie. The issue of who Annabel should live with, is central to this film. Annabel, even though she's very young, knows who cares for her most. We see how Annabel's maternal grandparents are trying to trick her into coming with then, saying it's for her own good. But Annabel loves her paternal grandfather and you can see how much she means to him. The dolphin is my favorite actor in the film. After the movie ends there are bloopers showing them training the dolphin and doing tricks with her. I like that this movie is filmed on such a beautiful island.

The moral of this film is to trust a child's judgment when it comes to who they should be living with. Children feel most comfortable with the person that loves them and keeps them safe.

I give Dolphin Island 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18 plus adults. Dolphin Island will be available on March 2, 2021 on many VOD platforms.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 7-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
LAND

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LAND - FOCUS FEATURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 11-18
Description - A bereaved woman seeks out a new life, off the grid in Wyoming.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The upcoming drama film Land, by director Robin Wright, is intriguing, valiant and relatable. I found it astounding knowing Robin Wright also starred in this film as the principal figure Edee. Considering this was Wright's feature film directorial debut, I can't deny that she surpassed my expectations for this film.

Land shows the raw emotion of a human overcome by grief and follows Edee (Wright) as she manages with unimaginable despondency after the passing of her spouse and child. Edee makes a bold choice to depart from society, seeking out a new life off the grid in Wyoming. Leading up to that moment, she tosses her phone, buys canned merchandise and supplies, and finds an isolated, somewhat-rundown cabin within the Wyoming wild. Throughout the film, you can see how isolated she feels -- once she starts a new life, it's like she's left her old self behind with society.

Edee is certain about her brave decision, and ready to start a new life. However, there is no coordinate for the area's unwavering winter. She is incapable of keeping the fire going to warm her cabin. After a bear continually eats her food, Edee is on the brink of starvation, as well as frail and too cold to stand. Edee is spared by a neighborly hunter/woodsman (Demi�n Bichir) who brings her back to life and instructs her on how to survive living on the land. As Edee starts to construct a new life for herself outside of civilization, she works to manage her past and see toward a bright future.

My favorite part in Land would have to be when Edee was fishing at the nearby lake. As she is struggling to catch a fish, she becomes frustrated. Then, she notices a young man, Miguel (Demi�n Bichir) chasing his young son, Drew (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) She recalls memories of her late spouse and child and follows them from afar as they run through the trees. I enjoyed watching as she relived those precious moments from her past, and it was overall a heartfelt moment in this film.

However, although Land was only 88 minutes, the film felt way longer than that, due to the slow pace. There are many relatable moments within the film, but I felt some scenes dragged and, at some moments, many scenes felt "dry." This film promotes positive social behaviors and shows the true meaning of kindness. What I took away from Land is that it's okay to be not okay. And, sometimes, we need a break from our continuous busy schedule in life and to break free!

I give Land 4 out of 5 stars, with an age recommendation of 11 to 18, plus adults. Land debuts February 12, 2021 in theaters.

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 11-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GLITCH IN THE MATRIX, A

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GLITCH IN THE MATRIX, A - MAGNOLIA PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 14-18
Description - Documentary filmmaker Rodney Ascher tackles this question "are we living in a simulation?" with testimony, philosophical evidence and scientific explanation in his for the answer.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A Glitch In The Matrix is a radical, uniquely-presented look at simulation theory in the digital age - specifically, how those who prescribe to the notion that we're all living in a simulation came to those beliefs and how this belief affects their outlook. Dense, but accessible, directed by Rodney Ascher, it's the rare documentary that asks a question it knows it can't answer.

In the late 1970s, famed author Phillip K. Dick, known for his sci-fi stories, gave a talk where he laid out his theory that we are living in a simulation. This becomes the entry point into the maw of simulation theory, its depth only outmatched by its complexity. A Glitch In The Matrix utilizes a famed and celebrated movie as its main frame of reference in exploring its theme -- The Matrix, a film that put simulation theory into the mainstream. Ascher's film investigates where stimulation theory stemmed from, how its tenets and principles have been echoed throughout history by everyone from Plato to Elon Musk to current times.

The conceit of A Glitch In The Matrix can't so much be explored as marveled at, and the possibilities of a simulated reality tinkered with, and so that's exactly what it does. This film boldly depicts this proposed reality entirely through CG animation and clips from popular culture that have dealt with similar ideas. I respect that a film about simulations indulges so heavily in them. For example, many people who speak in the film have their identities shielded by virtual avatars that filter their perspectives, enhancing the feel of a simulation. This method of using simulation techniques in a film about simulation gets very "meta," but, in doing so, adheres to and honors the film's topic and not in a show-offy or self-congratulatory way.

I have respect for any movie that seeks to make you question the world you live in. Socially and politically, A Glitch In The Matrix does that quite literally. If you're looking for a documentary that finds the key to its main topic and deconstructs it bit by bit, this isn't that, but if you're willing to go on a bit of a journey through a school of thought via the lens of a capable filmmaker that challenges what you think about your own reality, sit down, give this a chance and enjoy it. A Glitch In The Matrix is left incomplete almost by design, but somehow that works to its charm.

I give A Glitch In The Matrix 3 out of 5 stars and an age rating of 14 to 18 for some simulated violence and the description of a violent crime. It just premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and it will be available in theaters and at home on February 5, 2021.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

We have all questioned our existence one way or another in our lives. Am I real? A Glitch in the Matrix explores this question in the most mysterious and heart-pounding way possible. Documentaries can be dry, yet this film is as thrilling as any action movie.

A Glitch in the Matrix sets the entire premise of simulation theory around a speech by famous author Philip K. Dick. This documentary ponders the highly uncharted theory of simulated reality. With a series of interviews, animated cut scenes and references to the movie The Matrix.

While the eyewitnesses may seem, at first glance, irrelevant, as they don't have any professional credibility, their personal real-world experiences creates a sense of relatability, which is much needed for such an obscure subject. Also, as the eyewitnesses are animated it allows their stories to be animated effectively too, granting visual access to their thoughts and words. A Glitch in the Matrix has no plotline per se; however throughout the entire film you feel literal chills. The sound effects and music by Jonathan Snipes create a feeling of total mystery and sinister experiences. Direction by Rodney Ascher, along with 3D character modeling by Maksim Solonovich really demonstrate creativity in all aspects of the production. My favorite part is when Joshua Cooke describes his experience with simulation theory and The Matrix. His experience is well animated and narrated, allowing me to get a sense of what he felt as he went through with such a heinous act.

The message of this film suggests that many are "alive, yet not living." Meaning that this life is finite, and whether simulated or not we should all live it to the fullest. This film does display explicit language, religious content, animated and descriptive violence, brief sexual content and smoking.

A Glitch in the Matrix gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it to mature 14 to 18-year-olds as well as adults. You can watch A Glitch in the Matrix in theatres and everywhere February 5, 2021.

Reviewed by Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

I found myself having a great time while watching A Glitch In The Matrix. This spine-tingling documentary will have you thinking outside the box. The interesting testimonials teemed with well-matching visuals, is a recipe for success. I was pulled in for the entire duration of the film and found myself a tad down when it was over. A Glitch In The Matrix is a truly amazing documentary.

Filmmaker Rodney Ascher directs an amazing documentary with intriguing testimonials from numerous people that believe we are actually living in a simulation. Paul Gude, Jesse Orion and many others share their unique experiences that support the idea of simulation theory. A Glitch In The Matrix raises the question "Are we living in a simulation?"

From the very beginning of this film, I felt very compelled in a chilling and somewhat exciting way. The visuals fit what is being said perfectly. I did not find myself lost at any part, as the documentary is split into well divided sections which helped me understand what they were talking about a little bit more. Another compelling thing are the testimonials from many people. Each of their stories is unique and supports the main message of the film. I started watching this documentary not knowing anything about simulation theory. I surprisingly found myself refreshed and felt like I learned a little bit from watching this film. I loved every second of it. The film had me leaning forward in my seat wanting to watch more.

A Glitch In The Matrix gives the audience a chance to think beyond the normal and challenge them to dive a little deeper into their views of life. Throughout the documentary, you might find yourself drawn into each individual testimonial and eager to know more. Despite the good parts, you should know that there is a small amount of violence and profanity, but there is nothing that is unfitting.

I give A Glitch In The Matrix 4 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults. A Glitch In The Matrix is available for rent on Prime Video now.

Reviewed by Hazel A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 14-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
OUR TIME MACHINE
OUR TIME MACHINE - 101 STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 15-18
Description - When influential Chinese artist Ma Liang (a.k.a. Maleonn) realizes that his father Ma Ke, an accomplished Peking Opera director, is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, he invites his father to collaborate on his most ambitious project to date - a haunting, magical, autobiographical stage performance featuring life-size mechanical puppets called "Papa's Time Machine". Through the creation of this play, the two men confront their mortality before time runs out and memories are lost forever.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Our Time Machine offers such an emotional journey about the reality of Alzheimer's disease. This is a documentary about a son doing what he can to show his appreciation toward his father, who is has Alzheimer's disease. This film is beautifully created, with a very emotional tone as we get to the see the production of the play and the hardships it faces, while we also see the father's health declining. It shows the ups and downs in the art world and what a son is capable of doing to express his gratitude and appreciation. A Chinese artist creates the biggest project of his career - an autobiographical play that uses mechanical puppets to tell the story. He struggles with time, money and his father's health, as he becoming more and more ill with Alzheimer's disease.

Our Time Machine is the documented story of Maleonn and his father Ma Ke. Throughout the film, we learn about the background of the family, and how invested they are in the art world. The story really shows the emotions that the son is feeling, as he feels frustrated, sad, emotional, but excited at the same time. It is an emotional journey, as there are father/son moments that are very touching, but also the doctor visits for the father are extremely sad as they show his health degrading. The main parts of the film are how the play is taking direction and its process, and the counterpart of how Ma Ke's health is declining to the point he does not remember the most basic aspects of life.

The camera work is diverse as it moves from scene to scene, depending on the context of the work. There are moments where pictures are shown or celebrations, such as birthdays and anniversaries, take place in real time. The camera moves as the characters move, and capture the complete context of the scenes. The locations vary throughout the film. The flow is very continuous, and everything takes place in different scenarios. The two central sets of the documentary are the parents' house and the place where the play takes life. In addition, locations from the past and present, and even outside the country can be observed.

There is little background music, and it changes from scene to scene. It does not drive the action in the film as much as the conversations between all the characters. That is what gives life to the film. But the sound effects are essential to get the complete message. They vary and are mostly focused to enhance dialogues between the puppet father and the puppet son. They help with the flow of the play and how it is presented in stage. All the visual effects take place in scenes where the son or the father are reminiscing about the past, and in scenes where the son is dreaming and creating his play. They are remarkable, as they are thoughts that are later done exactly how they were intended.

This documentary took around three years to complete, focusing on the artist Maleonn and his family. There are many persons involved in the film, as it shows the family of the protagonist as well as his team and employees that give life to the play.

Everything that Maleonn does in this film has an ultimate goal - to show his appreciation and gratitude to his father before is too late. He does everything he can to make this possible, but time and money are to his disadvantage. Everything that we see and feel during the documentary just highlights the main message: We need to appreciate and embrace every moment with others before it is too late. In this case, the artist tries to do this with his father who is forgetting everything and everyone around him. This is a hard reality for many families around the world, and it is necessary to live and appreciate those good moments before the bad ones that may come in the future. Sometimes those good moments are the ones that give us strength and hope for the hard ones that can come.

You should know that it contains some profanity and behavior. There is a scene where the artist is celebrating his birthday with his colleagues. They are drinking heavily and use some mild language, d*mn and *ss. Also, smoking is a recurrent act throughout the movie. Almost all the main characters can be observed smoking at some point of the film.

What I love about this film is the engineering process of creating every single thought Maleonn has. I was mesmerized by the creativity and the work that took place to create all the pieces of the stage and the mechanical puppets. They are so realistic and so well designed. The scenarios in the play are breathtaking. They recreate a plane from scratch and everything is neat and planned. I was in awe in every single scene where all these elements are shown, as they are incredibly created and structured. The protagonist is Chinese artist Maleonn. His father Ma Ke, is a well renowned Peking Opera director.

I give Our Time Machine 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults. This film is beautiful in all areas. It has great production values, a real and emotional storyline, it sends across a valuable message, and the use of art and creativity throughout the documentary is of high quality. It is a rather complex film, as it is intended for older audiences such as older teenagers and adults. Also, it shows the hard reality of a person with Alzheimer's and the emotional toll that takes on the family. This film shows the frustration, the sadness, the rawness of the desperation in the father's face, and that makes it more touching and real. I shed some tears when I saw these scenes, as I could see the impotence of both the father and the son in different moments, and that is what really made me think about my family and how to appreciate every moment I get to share with them.

Reviewed by David O., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer, age 20
Juror Recommended Age: 15-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
FINDING 'OHANA

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FINDING 'OHANA - NETFLIX
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - A summer in rural O'ahu takes an exciting turn for two Brooklyn-raised siblings when a journal pointing to long-lost treasure sets them on an epic adventure with new friends, and leads them to reconnect with their Hawaiian heritage.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The upcoming Netflix film Finding 'Ohana, by Jude Weng, is absorbing, hilarious and intriguing. I truly enjoyed watching the main character Pili (Kea Peahu) evolve throughout the film as she learns more about her heritage and the land. As a young viewer, I found it fascinating that this film points out one of many Hawaiian legends - the Night Marchers - which are the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors.

This film follows two Brooklyn-raised siblings, as their life takes an unexpected turn as they spend the summer in O'ahu. At the beginning of their O'ahu summer, Pili finds an old, dusty journal with notes from an old pirate and the pirate's crew. After learning more about the pirate's connection to the long-lost gold from her grandfather Kimo (Branscombe Richmond), Pili takes on the challenge of finding the gold with her new friend Casper (Owen Vaccaro), which leads to her older brother Ioane (Alex Iono) and Casper's "older sister" Hana (Lindsay Watson) following the journey.

I was super impressed by all of the acting talent, especially Kea Peahu, who plays the protagonist Pili. Considering that this is her first feature film, that is even more impressive. I spoke with her recently about that and she shared, "I have many similarities to Pili, which helped improve my performance. I was able to connect with my ohana (family) just like Pili does in the film." Along with that, Owen Vaccaro (Daddy's Home; Daddy's Home 2) surpassed all my expectations with his performance.

My favorite parts about Finding 'Ohana are the real-world concepts such as the Hawaiian legends that lead Pili on her journey to find the treasure. Many films are based around myths of various cultures. However, in this film, you see how the Hawaiian legend comes to life in a youth and family-friendly way. I loved seeing the character development of each character and seeing them change by the end of the film when they become family (ohana) because of the experiences they have shared.

This film promotes positive social behaviors and shows how important it is to treat others respectfully. What I took away from this film is to always treat others the way you want to be treated, and that ohana (family) is not always blood; family is those who love and support you, whether you are related or not.

I give Finding 'Ohana 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It debuts on Netflix Jan. 29, 2021. Be sure to check it out!

Reviewed by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Families do not always bond nicely. In Finding 'Ohana, two siblings from New York embark on an adventure in O'ahu, Hawaii and try to connect with each other and with their Hawaiian heritage while they discover the mysteries of the island. This movie is about traditions, embracing your culture and respect.

The film has the perfect adventure spirit. Pili (Kea Peahu), a 12-year-old girl and her brother Ione (Alex Aiono) are always fighting. With their mom, they go to their native island, O'ahu, to visit their grandfather whose health is delicate. The mom, Leilani (Kelly Hu), doesn't get along with her family all that well. It's as if all these different generations are colliding, but through the unusual experiences and with help from new friends, they discover the greatest treasure - the love of family (ohana).

The movie mixes fantasy and adventure, a little romance, humor and drama in a fun way. This story remind of Goonies and has some elements from the classic 80s films like Indiana Jones, but deals with contemporary subjects of identity and multi-cultural issues. The scenes were filmed on various locations on O'ahu, which gives the film a very authentic tone. The sightseers are beautiful and there is some lovely underwater photography. The story is entertaining and keeps you focused most of the time. Some visual effects and practical sets are not all that impressive, but the performances are very good and make you connect with the characters and what they are going through. Kea Peahu, who plays Pili in her film debut, is amazing in the leading role. I love the songs in the soundtrack and the way the music is incorporated into the storyline. I also love that the film reinforces the importance of a simple life; sometimes we focus on our dreams and goals; we forget about the beauty that is in front of us in our everyday life.

The message of the film is that love of family is unconditional despite our differences.

I give Finding 'Ohana 4 out of 5 starts and recommended for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Finding 'Ohana premieres January 29, 2021 on Netflix.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST QUALIFIED ENDORSEMENT
MARKSMAN, THE

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MARKSMAN, THE - OPEN ROAD PRODUCTIONS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - A rancher on the Arizona border becomes the unlikely defender of a young Mexican boy desperately fleeing the cartel assassins who've pursued him into the U.S.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Marksman is a slower-paced action film set on the road from Texas to Chicago. The film stars Liam Neeson as Jim, a retiree who's seen better days. There is a strong action storyline but those expecting a shoot-em-up adrenaline rush may want to look elsewhere.

Jim's wife has passed away, his finances gutted by the cost of her medical bills, and his decaying ranch adjoining the border to Mexico is under threat since he can't keep up with his rent. Now all he's got is his loyal canine companion and a few days left with his property. On a drive surveying his land, Jim finds a boy named Miguel and his mother Rosa, crossing the border. Members of a drug cartel are hot on their trail, eager to capture the mother and son. A shootout between Jim and their pursuers occurs and Rosa is mortally wounded. As she passes away, Jim makes a promise to get Miguel to their family in Chicago where he'll be safe.

The Marksman is a conundrum as an action movie - as for action, it's sparse, save for a few shootouts here and there where Neeson's character gets a chance to live up to his Marksman moniker. When you hear Liam Neeson and action movie within the same breath, you picture Neeson defiantly doling out revenge to those who have wronged him and the people he cares about, which to some extent is what The Marksman becomes. But it plods along its course, steeping you in the everyday life of Neesons' Jim, before putting into perspective the predicament Miguel faces from the cartel members who killed his mother.

Jim's encounters with the cartel is only mildly suspenseful. So much of The Marksman doesn't fully develop Miguel and Jim's dynamic, either. These characters spend so much time together, but, by the end, they only manage to get each other where they need to go, and nothing more. There's humanity, but there's no spark to it. I don't fault the performances, as much as I do a script with not enough meaningful moments for the central pair's bond to supplant itself deeply in the fabric of the movie.

I give The Marksman 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 for some mild violence and the killing of a dog. The Marksman comes out in theaters on January 15, 2020.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, ages 14
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
BISHWA
BISHWA - NILAMADHAB PANDA
Series: INDIE FEATURE, AGES 12-17
Description - A rumor starts to grow about the emergence of a ghost, in a tiny fishermen village of India. Bishwa, a born blind kid, gets curious and starts asking for a description of ghost to the people. Clueless, they share their imaginary ideas about how a ghost looks. Fearful of the ghost, the villagers stop stepping out after sunset. The kids do not get to play in the evenings. It confuses Bishwa and he decides to go catch the ghost on his own. What does he discover? Can a blind boy catch a ghost? The film attempts to explore the idea of vision
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Quarantine has made me a sucker for sunrises and sunsets, so I loved the cinematography of the mountains and the village of Chilika in Bishwa. They are stunning.

Surrounded by ghosts and superstitions in his home village, an inquisitive blind youth, Bishwa, tries to understand what the people around him fear about this so-called ghost. His stubborn, yet fierce love for his family proves to cause trouble and solve problems along the way.

While every part of the film adds value to the story, it sometimes drags, making the film slow to watch at times. There are some uncomfortably long or redundant scenes. Also, the ending does not entirely make sense to me and doesn't wrap the story up completely. The nature shots are beautiful and the film nears IMAX quality. However in one scene, when showing a video within the film, the video plays over a shaky shot that shows that the screen is not actually playing anything. I love the authenticity of the sets and locations as India's villages and cities really do look the way they are portrayed it in the film. There were some adorable Hindi songs included that give a good Bollywood music video feel to the film. But there are two English songs in the film that feel out of place, especially since the entire film is spoken in Hindi. Also there are a few moments when the dialogue changes in quality or doesn't match the actors' mouths when they speak. Siblings Bishwa, Shyam and Hira are played by child actors Yagya Bhasin,, Mann Gandhi and Mahi Soni respectively. The three have a strong bond and work together to solve the issue of the village ghost. No matter how much Bishwa gets himself into trouble, his siblings always have his back. Hira is just as outspoken as her brother and may be even more feisty than he. Shyam is the calmer elder brother.

The message is that loving families, no matter how much they fight, are boomerangs. Family members will get mad at each other, sometimes because they want to protect one other. But, they will forgive because their love is stronger than their pride. Differing beliefs can be so strong that they rip apart family members, but even if a family is broken apart, they will always come back together in the end. Note: there is some smoking shown in the film.

There is a commentary about faith and how, sometimes, people give blind faith to corrupt religious individuals. They will believe anything about things they don't understand, just to have something to hold onto. And, the people that are telling them what to believe in, line their pocketbooks from those that believe in them. It makes us question what institutions we put our belief in and how they are actually affecting our lives.

My favorite part is when Bishwa runs the race and the other contestants purposefully go slowly. Bishwa starts to run outside of his lane without realizing it and others follow him. The men holding the finish line move with Bishwa to ensure that he finishes first and wins the race.

Yagya Bhasin who plays Bishwa and Mahi Soni who plays Hira definitely have star power. They both played their strong willed characters powerfully.

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 17. Reviewed by Anokhi L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Quarantine has made me a sucker for sunrises and sunsets, so I loved the cinematography of the mountains and the village of Chilika in Bishwa. They are stunning.

Surrounded by ghosts and superstitions in his home village, an inquisitive blind youth, Bishwa, tries to understand what the people around him fear about this so-called ghost. His stubborn, yet fierce love for his family proves to cause trouble and solve problems along the way.

While every part of the film adds value to the story, it sometimes drags, making the film slow to watch at times. There are some uncomfortably long or redundant scenes. Also, the ending does not entirely make sense to me and doesn't wrap the story up completely. The nature shots are beautiful and the film nears IMAX quality. However in one scene, when showing a video within the film, the video plays over a shaky shot that shows that the screen is not actually playing anything. I love the authenticity of the sets and locations as India's villages and cities really do look the way they are portrayed it in the film. There were some adorable Hindi songs included that give a good Bollywood music video feel to the film. But there are two English songs in the film that feel out of place, especially since the entire film is spoken in Hindi. Also there are a few moments when the dialogue changes in quality or doesn't match the actors' mouths when they speak. Siblings Bishwa, Shyam and Hira are played by child actors Yagya Bhasin,, Mann Gandhi and Mahi Soni respectively. The three have a strong bond and work together to solve the issue of the village ghost. No matter how much Bishwa gets himself into trouble, his siblings always have his back. Hira is just as outspoken as her brother and may be even more feisty than he. Shyam is the calmer elder brother.

The message is that loving families, no matter how much they fight, are boomerangs. Family members will get mad at each other, sometimes because they want to protect one other. But, they will forgive because their love is stronger than their pride. Differing beliefs can be so strong that they rip apart family members, but even if a family is broken apart, they will always come back together in the end. Note: there is some smoking shown in the film.

There is a commentary about faith and how, sometimes, people give blind faith to corrupt religious individuals. They will believe anything about things they don't understand, just to have something to hold onto. And, the people that are telling them what to believe in, line their pocketbooks from those that believe in them. It makes us question what institutions we put our belief in and how they are actually affecting our lives.

My favorite part is when Bishwa runs the race and the other contestants purposefully go slowly. Bishwa starts to run outside of his lane without realizing it and others follow him. The men holding the finish line move with Bishwa to ensure that he finishes first and wins the race.

Yagya Bhasin who plays Bishwa and Mahi Soni who plays Hira definitely have star power. They both played their strong willed characters powerfully.

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 17. Reviewed by Anokhi L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
Juror Recommended Age: 12-17 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
THE BAMBOO HAT
THE BAMBOO HAT - CECILIA LI
Series: INDIE FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - t in Guangxi China, "The Bamboo Hat" is a tender heartwarming story about a grandma-grandson bond that has to withstand the ravages of time, fate and truths. Through his grandmother's boundless patience and devotion, seven-year-old Huolong learns to embrace empathy, humility and the importance of family. The movie puts a spotlight on the left-behind children who live with other family members in the countryside of China.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The Bamboo Hat is a heartwarming tale that makes viewers want to give their grandmother a big hug. The film is beautifully touching and tragic as it reveals the development of the love between a grandson and his grandmother. So much Chinese culture is ingrained in this movie, while not overloading for foreign audiences. In rural China, a grandmother keeps the disappearance of her son from her grandson, Huolong, while he learns the importance of family. Through sadness, anger and devotion, the pair bonds as Huolong waits for his father to return home.

The story is incredibly moving as Huolong and his grandmother grow ever closer. Initially, Huolong is angry and withholding, but eventually, he learns to accept and appreciate his grandmother, though she keeps the news of his father a secret. I love Huolong's characterization as a rowdy and emotional, but overall good kid, and how that plays against his grandmother who is calm, compassionate, and determined.

The cinematography is incredible beautiful, from the close-ups that capture the intimate family bonding to the wide angle shots display the stunning farms and rivers. The scenes showing Huolong running through the farms are very appealing. The grandmother's attire is beautiful, while retaining the simplicity of farmer's clothing. The locations are beautiful and show American audiences the unfamiliar geography of China's stunning river basins. The landscapes have an appealing aesthetic, as do the stone and wood of the houses.

The music perfectly captures the sad and sentimental tone of the scenes. When the narrator describes the story of the gods, the music sweeps the audience into the story. The upbeat music emphasizes Huolong's playful personality, while the soft, wistful woodwind music helps convey the grandmother's calm and wisdom. The sounds of the cello force your eyes to well as the grandmother cries, worried about her son and grandson.

Every actor performs beautifully, but Yanshu Wu, as the grandmother, stands out. She expresses the emotions that any grandmother would feel from her frustration to her remorse and her love. This film will play well on a big screen.

The message is that family is the most valuable thing in the world. It's important to value and appreciate our family and all they do for us. The lesson behind the story hits home with me personally, because growing up in an Asian American family, I also have had to learn the importance of family that is so valued in Asian culture. It contains some profanity. I can't say anything about the profanity in Mandarin, but the subtitles do possess some minor language. This film made me want to learn more about my own Chinese culture and native language. I'm also captivated by the stories of the Chinese gods that are referenced throughout the film. My favorite part is the bonding of Huolong and his grandmother. It reminds me of my own relationship with my grandmother, and how important that is. The actress Yanshu Wu is well known, although she is mainly recognized in China rather than the US.

I give The Bamboo Hat 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You should know that the dialogue is in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles. Reviewed by Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Bamboo Hat is a heartwarming tale that makes viewers want to give their grandmother a big hug. The film is beautifully touching and tragic as it reveals the development of the love between a grandson and his grandmother. So much Chinese culture is ingrained in this movie, while not overloading for foreign audiences. In rural China, a grandmother keeps the disappearance of her son from her grandson, Huolong, while he learns the importance of family. Through sadness, anger and devotion, the pair bonds as Huolong waits for his father to return home.

The story is incredibly moving as Huolong and his grandmother grow ever closer. Initially, Huolong is angry and withholding, but eventually, he learns to accept and appreciate his grandmother, though she keeps the news of his father a secret. I love Huolong's characterization as a rowdy and emotional, but overall good kid, and how that plays against his grandmother who is calm, compassionate, and determined.

The cinematography is incredible beautiful, from the close-ups that capture the intimate family bonding to the wide angle shots display the stunning farms and rivers. The scenes showing Huolong running through the farms are very appealing. The grandmother's attire is beautiful, while retaining the simplicity of farmer's clothing. The locations are beautiful and show American audiences the unfamiliar geography of China's stunning river basins. The landscapes have an appealing aesthetic, as do the stone and wood of the houses.

The music perfectly captures the sad and sentimental tone of the scenes. When the narrator describes the story of the gods, the music sweeps the audience into the story. The upbeat music emphasizes Huolong's playful personality, while the soft, wistful woodwind music helps convey the grandmother's calm and wisdom. The sounds of the cello force your eyes to well as the grandmother cries, worried about her son and grandson.

Every actor performs beautifully, but Yanshu Wu, as the grandmother, stands out. She expresses the emotions that any grandmother would feel from her frustration to her remorse and her love. This film will play well on a big screen.

The message is that family is the most valuable thing in the world. It's important to value and appreciate our family and all they do for us. The lesson behind the story hits home with me personally, because growing up in an Asian American family, I also have had to learn the importance of family that is so valued in Asian culture. It contains some profanity. I can't say anything about the profanity in Mandarin, but the subtitles do possess some minor language. This film made me want to learn more about my own Chinese culture and native language. I'm also captivated by the stories of the Chinese gods that are referenced throughout the film. My favorite part is the bonding of Huolong and his grandmother. It reminds me of my own relationship with my grandmother, and how important that is. The actress Yanshu Wu is well known, although she is mainly recognized in China rather than the US.

I give The Bamboo Hat 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You should know that the dialogue is in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles. Reviewed by Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
BLIZZARD OF SOULS
BLIZZARD OF SOULS - KULTFILMA
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 14-18
Description - Based on true events and the novel by Aleksandrs Grins, which was forbidden in the USSR, the film follows a coming-of-age story of a sixteen-year-old Arthur. After the loss of his mother, he enlists to fight in WWI with dreams of becoming a hero, but after surviving the brutalities of trench warfare and the loss of his family, he wonders if his efforts in battle were futile and if hope is only to be found in rebuilding a family and a home as Latvia itself is born from the atrocities of war.

BLIZZARD OF SOULS was directed by Dzintars Dreibergs and written by Dreibergs and Boriss Frumins. The film was produced by Inga Pranevska and Dzintars Dreibergs for KULTFILMA, and associate produced by Gatis Sniedzin�. Ilona Bi vska serves as International Producer. It was edited by Gatis Belogrudovs and composed by Lolita Ritmanis.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A cinematic masterpiece and the Oscar submission from the Baltic nation of Latvia, Blizzard of Souls will take you through a rollercoaster of emotions while providing you with a thorough history lesson! With echoes of 1917, Blizzard of Souls has masterful editing and cinematography, incredible sets and locations, and a talented cast, but falls a bit short on explaining major events in the First World War.

KULTFILMA took inspiration from true events and the novel by Grins to create Blizzard of Souls, which follows a teenage boy named Arturs Vanags in Russian-controlled Latvia (around the 1910s). Arturs' father was a highly decorated commander of a regiment of the Latvian army, and his brother Edgars is focused on carrying on that legacy. He's not exactly a fighter, but when his mother is killed by the Germans, Arturs, his brother, and his father conscript in the national Latvian Riflemen battalions of the Imperial Russian army in hopes of getting revenge and finding glory. He experiences many loves and losses in battle, after which he, among other soldiers, grows weary of the Tsarist cause and feels forgotten. Arturs must decide whether to stay with his regiment or defect and join his comrades in fighting the Latvian War of Independence and start his life all over again. As you can see, there's a lot happening in the film, and it's an intriguing plotline. Though I am a history buff, I'm not at the top of my game when it comes to Latvian war history, so I was really hoping for some time or battle markers; all of the battles seemed to blend together, save for the final conflict Arturs is involved in - the Battle of Cesis.

The cast and crew shine in this Baltic beauty. Oto Brantevics and Raimonds Celms play the brothers Vanags, with Oto as Arturs and Raimonds as Edgars. Raimond is a more experienced actor, but Oto really shines in his performance, with perfectly toned emotions and dialogue. Their on-screen father is played by Martins Vilsons, whose cerebral, tough personality gives way (at the perfect time) to paternal love. And the Vanags' friends in the film, Mikelsons and Konrads, are played by Jekabs Reinis and Gatis Gaga, who excel in their supporting roles with pointed humor and emulating the characters' focused, yet free personalities. Behind the scenes, Dzintars Dreibergs directed the film meticulously, with a keen eye on historical accuracy and believability. The music in the film, which majestically introduces and drives the action in each scene, was composed by Lolita Ritmanis. The soundtrack is definitely one of my favorite parts of the film. Another beautiful element of Blizzard of Souls is the cinematography by Valdis Celmin�; viewers can tell that each shot was thoughtfully planned out. There is a large part of one battle sequence that was shot and edited in one take, which really helps the speed of the film.

The message of Blizzard of Souls is one of growth; Arturs grows from a young boy to a mature hero throughout this film and has to make many tough decisions along the way. It's a positive and relatable message, as we all grow as people throughout our lives. There are some scenes for parents to watch out for though; there's a lot of blood and gore, some nudity and profanity (given the culture of trench warfare).

I give Blizzard of Souls 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Adults will enjoy this film as well. Blizzard of Souls is out in theatres and on DVD now!

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 14-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
STALLONE: FRANK, THAT IS

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STALLONE: FRANK, THAT IS
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STALLONE: FRANK, THAT IS - BRANDED STUDIOS
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18
Description - Frank Stallone has seen it all. Frank Stallone has done it all. But, who is Frank Stallone? You know the name, now discover the Grammy and Golden Globe nominated singer, songwriter, musician and actor who has been entertaining audiences for over fifty years, all the while living in a giant shadow.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I'm super excited to share my thoughts about the documentary Stallone: Frank, That Is about a Hollywood star that has seen and done it all. I am talking about Frank Stallone who has spent nearly 50 years entertaining us with his platinum and gold albums and his amazing songs that have topped the music charts worldwide. His movie soundtracks for the most iconic films remain familiar throughout many generations. Singer, songwriter, musician and an actor...Frank Stallone is a package deal!

Stallone: Frank, That Is, a documentary written and directed by Derek Wayne Johnson, gives viewers an inside look into the life, career and struggles of a performer who has been dubbed "the most unknown famous entertainer in Hollywood." The film takes us behind the scenes as we follow Frank Stallone's professional journey told in words by Frank himself and people within his life who knew him best. Frank's accomplishments seem so remarkable, however for much of his life he has lived within the shadows of his more famous brother, Sylvester Stallone. Being "Rocky's Brother" may have been the largest hindrance to Frank's career, yet the most beneficial, because Frank's first real break within the industry came from his contributions to the Rocky Film Series. Frank Stallone's story is one of perseverance, inner strength, and a passion for the arts.

Frank's path has been filled with many opportunities and setbacks. Everyone, of course, has heard of Sylvester Stallone, yet, just as talented Frank has remained the Stallone underdog. I believe this documentary is exactly what Frank Stallone needs in order to share with the world exactly who he is, what he's done, and just how talented he actually is. Frank is exceptionally courageous in sharing his deepest inferior feelings and reveals to the world that there is room for more than one Stallone!

I truly enjoyed hearing from Mr. Stallone talk about how difficult his journey has been and how he hurdled so many obstacles to follow his dreams. As a young actor, I know firsthand how frustrating and disheartening it is to try to make it big within the talent world. I can relate to the look on Frank's face when as he discusses the setbacks he has faced. The industry is certainly competitive. What every entertainer needs is a will to push forward and a strong support base. The closest people in Frank Stallone's life offer words of encouragement to this amazing entertainer, which I believe is the message of this perseverant film; lots of support and self-confidence are needed if you are going to succeed within this terribly competitive niche. You need to navigate around your obstacles in order to reach your dreams.

I give Stallone: Frank, That Is 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it to ages 12 to 18. Adults would especially love this documentary also, as many of them are quite familiar with Frank's music. This documentary will be released January 19, 2021. You can watch it on Video on Demand and Digital Screenings. This is an inspiring film that you don't want to miss.
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WONDER WOMAN 1984

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WONDER WOMAN 1984 - WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Rewind to the 1980s as Wonder Woman's next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love Wonder Woman 1984! The costumes and sets are magnificent! And it has original music that fits perfectly with every scene!

Wonder Woman 1984 takes place in 1984 (hence the name), 66 years after the original movie, Wonder Woman. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is living among the mortals and working at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. While there, the museum receives a mysterious stone that can grant one wish per person. Diana wishes to bring her long lost love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), back from the dead. Subsequently, she discovers the true power of the stone, and what would happen if it falls into the wrong hands.

I am happy to report that this movie has a "satisfying" ending, but no spoilers here. Knowing that this movie is a sequel, I would recommend watching the first one because it sets up Wonder Woman's backstory and other characters from the first movie. One thing that really stands out to me is the attention to detail. All of the costumes, sets and dialogue are very well executed and accurate to the 80s, or so my parents tell me! I especially like Wonder Woman's golden armor. Kudos to Lindy Hemming (costume designer) and Aline Bonetto (production designer) for the realistic look. All of the actors are strong, but the ones that stand out the most are Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig. Pedro Pascal (Maxwell Lord) really personifies the bad guy, a con man always wanting more. And as you watch Kristen Wiig's character, Barbara Minerva, evolve during the movie, you can see the contrast between her two personalities emerge.

The main messages of this movie are to be careful about what you wish for, truth overcomes lies, and of course, girl power. There is some bad language and a lot of fight scenes - it is, of course, a superhero movie. Wonder Woman is a great role model for all people as she inspires bravery, love, and heroism.

I give Wonder Woman 1984 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Adults will enjoy it, too. Wonder Woman 1984 will be coming out in select theaters, IMAX, and HBO Max on December 25, 2020.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Wonder Woman 1984 is a fantasy action sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring by Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig.

The movie opens with spectacular action scenes that take place in Themyscira, the ancient island where our favorite heroine comes from. We see Diana (Gal Gadot) at a very young age, competing in a warrior challenge and learning one of the most important lessons in life: the importance of being truthful.

Then, the film shifts to the 1980's where most of the movie takes place. Diana Prince is working at the Smithsonian Institute curating ancient artifacts, and one of them, recently discovered, is a very powerful stone that grants wishes. The stone will become a powerful and destructive weapon. Diane welcomes new worker Barbara Minerva who is shy and seems to be the opposite of Diana and who is investigating the stone.

The greatest assets in Wonder Woman 1984 are Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). Their characters are rich and enjoyable to watch, and they each portray a wide range of emotions. Gal Gadot as Diana Prince shines again in a role that seems tailor-made for her. She is the greatest princess: fierce, elegant and full of humanity.

The special effects are very well done, not perfect, but very impressive. There are a couple of sequences that are absolutely spectacular. The colors and costumes are vibrant, elegant and truthful to the era. And while the action scenes are exciting, the main story in general seems a little weak. I was on the edge of my seat at different times, but the story, at many moments is not that powerful. The music by Hans Zimmer is impeccable and adds a perfect emotional touch.

Wonder Woman 1984 is not as "wonderful" as the previous film, but is totally entertaining--and the messages are much needed in the world today: first, staying true to who we are. The other message is "be careful what we wish for" which, in this film, means it's good to remember that what we long for should be love and kindness.

I give Wonder Woman 1984 a 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommended to kids 10 and up (for some violent scenes) and adults as well. Wonder Woman 1984 opens on December 25, 2020, in theaters and on HBO Max.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
NEWS OF THE WORLD
NEWS OF THE WORLD - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Five years after the end of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a veteran of three wars, now moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news of presidents and queens, glorious feuds, devastating catastrophes, and gripping adventures from the far reaches of the globe. On the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with Johanna (Helena Zengel), a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own. Johanna, hostile to a world she's never experienced, is being returned to her biological aunt and uncle against her will. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two will face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces as they search for a place that either can call home.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - News of the World is a classical, character-driven Western amped up by the strength of its lead performances and cinematography.

Directed by Paul Greengrass, News of the World stars Tom Hanks as Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a veteran and former newspaper man. He charts course across a divided, post-Civil War America, going from town to town and doling out the news along with hope or despair depending on the headline. It's on these journeys that he finds a corpse in the woods and a toppled buggy, with a lone girl inside and some papers telling her story. She's Johanna, a German orphan adopted by Native Americans who slayed her parents and then taken from them. Kidd takes it upon himself to find her the home she's never really had, undeterred by the challenges ahead of them.

Tom Hanks is a gem, as usual. Hanks plays Kidd as flawed--we know he's done some things he's not proud of prior to the events of the film. He's atoning for those actions with an outstretched hand and caring heart for a person who needs it, a beacon of decency in a world that doesn't always adhere to that standard and the ideal stage for Hanks to work his magic upon. Fortunately, Hanks has a more than capable scene partner throughout in Helena Zengel, who plays Johanna. Her performance is mesmerizing and layered with nuance. She captures a character with a fiery spirit and worldly inner life.

The vistas and wide plains of a Western are catnip to any cinematographer. Dariuz Wolski creates a soft unease amid the ethereal hues of the frontier. There's an air of uncertainty that comes with their arduous journey that clouds over the majesty of the terrain. Wolski's cinematography basks in that majesty, but doesn't let it shake its focus on the characters at the center of it all. You become enveloped in the vastness of Captain Kidd and Johanna's travels, but fearful of what may lie ahead.

Greengrass's film seems primed for the big screen with its wealth of set pieces motivated by scale and environment; however, in the current times, a good portion of the people who watch this movie will watch it at home, and the movie seems as appropriate for that viewing experience with its stripped-down moments in between those grander ones.

I give News of the World 3 out of 5 stars and an age rating of 12 to 18 for some mild violence and moments of peril. You can see it in theaters December 25, 2020, and it will be available for home viewing within a month after its release.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

News of the World has a lot going for it and is full of creativity! While the concept of the film is original and full of potential, once the conflict is established the story doesn't quite live up to its promise.

The story centers on Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a Confederate Civil War veteran, and traveling news correspondent, who finds a young girl named Johanna (Helena Zengel) who was taken by Kiowa natives years ago. Kidd agrees to take the girl to her aunt and uncle, despite her protests in a language he does not speak. The pair faces many dangers along the way as they travel the American plains, including thieves, a dust storm, and a workers' riot, but through those challenges, they learn more about each other and how to work together.

The sets are impressive as well as the costumes. The actors are all dressed in outfits that really fit the time period and the region! I especially loved the scenes where Kidd and Johanna are traveling across the open desert because the filming locations are beautiful. My favorite part is how Kidd's and Johanna's relationship develops into one similar to a parent and a child, and the way it changes Kidd's perspective on family. Tom Hanks, as Kidd, is an outstanding actor, but I think his performance is somewhat negatively affected by uninteresting dialogue and character choices. In particular, Kidd's decision to rile the workers and fight against the mine owners while relaying the news seems a bit out of character, since Kidd is much calmer and lenient at the beginning of the movie. In fact, many scenes in the build-up of the main conflict of the story are a bit off-putting because they don't always match up with the familial and touching tone of the beginning and end of the film.

The message behind News of the World is that home is where the people you love are, and that family doesn't always have to be found in blood. The awkward and eventually affectionate interactions between Kidd and Johanna prove that any two people can find a connection. This film is rated PG-13, and parents should watch out for racism, death, implied child harassment, violence including the use of weapons.

I rate News of the World 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. This film can be viewed in theaters on December 25, 2020.

Reviewed by Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SOUL

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SOUL - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn't quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz -- and he's good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Soul is probably one of the most interesting films Pixar has made. It takes a very complex and existential idea about the meaning of life and expresses it in a unique, unexpected way.

The story follows a middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner, who wants nothing more than to play jazz on stage. When he finally has an opportunity to play, he ends up in an accident that separates his soul from his body and sends him to The Great Beyond. Joe teams up with an infant soul named 22, as they go on a journey to get Joe back to his body.

Unsurprisingly, this film looks great because it's an animated Pixar movie. Specifically, the birthplace of the souls, The Great Before, is very beautiful and ethereal-looking. Both The Great Beyond and The Great Before are interesting places visually and conceptually, but I felt like their potential was a bit wasted. I wanted to learn more about these locations and see more of them, but, alas, they're mostly forgotten about once they've served their purpose in the story.

Soul's greatest strength is its themes. I love the way this film subverts Joe's, and by extension the audience's, view on life and what it really means to be alive. It helps to have a great character like 22--who is so cynical and uninterested in human life--slowly learn to enjoy life in really subtle ways. Joe is great, but 22's character arc and her backstory really made me feel for her. She is such a well written character that I enjoyed watching her story play out. I appreciate this film attempting to tackle such a weighty subject in a way children could understand. It presents the concept of "the meaning of life" in a very mature yet still entertaining way.

I give Soul 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Soul releases on December 25, 2020.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

With a charming jazz element and beautiful music, alluring storyline and remarkable voice work, Soul is perhaps one of Pixar's most profound films from all time.

This is the story of Joe, a middle school band teacher whose life hasn't gone the way he expects. His true passion is jazz and he is a very gifted piano player. He is not really happy with his non-exciting job and when he gets a gif with his favorite jazz musician, his life seems to experience a life changing experience. Unfortunately he is a little too excited and he ends up in a near death situation. Joe travels to another realm called "the great before." In this fantastical place, he has to help someone find their passion and he soon discovers what it means to have a soul. It feels like I'm giving away some stuff, but this movie is so complex and meaningful that is worth to watch everything that unfolds. While the storyline is very earnest and genuine it does get a little hectic. While this movie is animated and colorful, it turns complex and dark. I felt there is a bit too much going on at one point, but the story itself is very winsome.

While I'm not a huge fun of the storyline of this film, because it moves back and forth constantly and the concepts explored are too deep at times. Soul is not only for kids and I like that. Usually, most films such as Toy Story, Cars and Coco are targeted for young kids, Soul has a broader appeal and people of all ages will learn valuable lessons from it.

The music is unbelievable. I expected it would be primarily jazz, but discovered textures and electronic vibes I didn't expect. Most of the score is by industrial rock band members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails. The futuristic vibes contrast with the more down-to-earth jazz songs included in the soundtrack.

The animation is hyper realistic in the scenes of the real world, which is typical of Pixar's work, with great attention to detail, urban landscapes, and a beautiful color palette. In the before scenes, the animation reminds me of the style of Inside Out, which is simpler and not that stylish.

The voice work is stupendous with Jamie Fox leading the cast in the role of Joe Gardner. He certainly gives this character gravitas and an adorable personality. Tina Fey plays 22, the character Joe befriends in his other life, and is quite vibrant and unique.

The message of the film is that everyone can find their own talents at the right time in their life. Life can be as delicious as a slice of pizza, because life is amazing and simple as it is.

I give Soul 4 out of 5 starts and recommend it for ages 8 to18 and adults as well. It is releasing December 25, 2020 on Disney Plus.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GREENLAND

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GREENLAND - STX ENTERTAINMENT
Series: FEATURE, AGES 14-18
Description - A family fights for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary. Amid terrifying news accounts of cities around the world being leveled by the comet's fragments, the Garritys experience the best and worst in humanity while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness surrounding them. As the countdown to global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Are you interested in an adventure? Are you ready for an intense ride of a lifetime? Well if so, Greenland is the movie for you! This film tests the limits of our society and portrays something everyone is scared might happen: The apocalypse. Greenland completely immerses you in its intensity, and also in incredible acting performances and visually stunning scenes.

Greenland starts off following a man named John Garrity (Gerard Butler) who learns of a comet named Clark that will be passing by Earth. Clark seems to be all fun and interesting until it is not! Fragments of Clark begin hitting Earth, wiping out cities, counties, and billions of lives. John discovers a safe haven, and he vows to get his family to it no matter what obstacles they face.

One of the biggest challenges about making a film about the apocalypse is making it look realistic. The visual effects department made everything look as if it was real, especially when it comes to scenes with comet fragments hitting Earth. Director Ric Roman Waugh also set up the story in such a way that it really makes the viewer wonder, how far would I go to protect my family?

Greenland delivers everything you would expect about an apocalypse movie along with stunning visual scenes. My concern with this film is that it lags in the middle making you aware of the two-hour runtime. Some scenes feel not unnecessary, and that the story could work perfectly without them. Also, Greenland pushes the boundaries of a PG-13 film because of the major intensity and gore. Throughout the film--with society on edge and people taking advantage of the crisis--gun violence, murder, and cursing frequently occur. Every child has a different maturity level, but even as a mature 14-year-old, I found some parts of this film difficult to watch at times.

I give Greenland 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18 plus adults because of the intensity and violence. You can find Greenland digitally on December 18, 2020.
Juror Recommended Age: 14-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
HOPE'S LEGACY

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HOPE'S LEGACY - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-15
Description - After the death of her grandmother, Lizzie decides to go back into eventing. With the help of past eventor Linda, her fiance James, and her family, Lizzie must learn to stand tall as she is challenged by the planning of her upcoming wedding and by her competitor Bethany. The sequel to Christmas Ranch.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Sequel to Christmas Ranch, Hope's Legacy follows Lizzie's struggle to navigate life and love after her grandmother dies. Grieving, she decides to rekindle something she and her grandmother shared: their love of horseback riding. The rest of the film follows the twists and turns of the endeavor and how her relationships evolve around it.

This film is ideal for teenagers from ages seven to thirteen who are interested in horseback riding and romance. It does not delve into any serious topics, nor does it employ any intricate cinematography or stellar acting. Although romance is a vital part to the plot, Lizzie's relationship with her female trainer, Linda, does take up a healthy amount of screen time. This kind of representation is still rare in today's world and is important for younger female audiences.

Hope's Legacy is family and child friendly. However, it does make an appeal to Christian audiences as the roles of the pastor and ideals of marriage are discussed on occasion. The production level is acceptable and you can enjoy this best, if taken at face value. Young viewers who are interested in horses and romance or are just looking for a lighthearted movie will enjoy it very much. Reviewed by Joy P., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer.

Hope's Legacy is a very sweet story. I like the charm that all the characters hold in their unique personalities. I like the storyline and how multi-dimensional it is.

Following the death of her grandma who loved horses, Lizzie decides to carry on eventing with her horse Legacy. She gets engaged to her fianc�' and tries to plan the wedding while practicing with her horse and problems arise.

The camera shows amazing panorama and crane shots above the beautiful scenery and pans to show emotion on so many loved ones' faces. The cinematography and the music pair to show the serene landscape and accent the dramatic and awesome moments in the film.

The message of this film is that if you want something it may not always be easy, but you must go for it to get what you really want out of life.

I give Hope's Legacy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to18, plus adults. This film will be available on January 5, 2021. Look for it. Reviewed by Melissa M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The movie Hope's Legacy is a motivational film! I absolutely love this movie and thought this is a clear beautiful film. You do not need to be an equestrian or animal fanatic to love this movie. It is entertaining and includes lots of uplifting spirit from the main characters.

The storyline is about a young girl Lizzy (Taylor Lyons), who gets the farm passed down to her after her grandmother's death. Lizzy decides to go back into eventing along with planning her wedding with her fiance James (Allen Williamson). Lizzy needs to learn to stand tall while dealing with her tough competition Bethany (Abigail Reed). At least Lizzy is not alone, she has her mentor Linda Locke (Dyan Cannon).

I absolutely love the horses and pretty backgrounds throughout the film. I enjoyed seeing Lizzy's horse Legacy. It is so stunning to see the action of the horses through the film. Another thing I liked is the music. The background music is inspirational and fits the storyline well. I found the film to be very appealing and adventurous. My favorite character is Bethany because Abigail Reed portrays the antagonist so well. Taylor Lyons really portrays Lizzy so well. I was surprised with the movie, because I did not know what the ending had in store and that kept me engaged. The film takes place on a ranch, with competitions and events. Legacy is a bit corny at first but kept me engaged to the end. This film definitely is one of my favorite movies.

The message of the film is to never give up. Lizzy has to stand up and be brave to overcome the hurtful comments and rumors. She keeps going through this competitive event only to find the best award waiting for her. The film is very motivational and inspiring. You should know that throughout the film there are some adult topics about drugs.

I give Hope's Legacy 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. I think adults and families would enjoy this as well! This movie will be released on DVD and digital January 4, 2021.

Hope's Legacy is a heartfelt movie that gets you thinking, "Do you have enough hope to chase your dreams?" This film combines a great concept with multiple plot twists that leave us watching with anticipation. I thought a few things were going to happen and then something entirely different happens. It's a film that you HAVE to watch!

Hope's Legacy is about a girl named Lizzy (Taylor Lyons), who just lost her beloved grandmother, and is trying to take the lead at the ranch she left her. She just got back from college and wants to start eventing with her horse, Legacy, again. When her boyfriend James (Allen Williamson) pops the big question, she now has a wedding to plan and still train so she and Legacy can win and defeat her nemesis, Bethany (Abigail Reed). With the help of Linda (Dyan Cannon), an ex-horse eventer with a questionable past, she finds a way to get everything she wants.

The actors are the main reason this film has so much potential for success. Taylor Lyons carries the lead role very well because she can bounce around from emotion to emotion in one scene. She goes from sad, to happy, to confused, to angry and back to happy again. This range of emotions gives us a much better understanding of the severity of Lizzy's feelings. Linda is also an important character. She encourages Lizzy to try her best and keep her head in the game when Bethany shakes up her confidence. Without Linda's encouragement, Lizzy might back out of eventing. James tries to understand everything Lizzy is going through however, he is dealing with Bethany, who is looking to ruin his relationship with Lizzy. The audience will really be able to see the tension between the three main characters. My favorite part of Hope's Legacy is when Lizzy and James announce their engagement to their parents. They don't get the response they are expecting because the parents think they are too young. Everyone else thinks so too. This doesn't stop them from planning their wedding, which shows how much they love each other. Another thing I enjoy about this film is the way the background music complements all of the scenes. In the scene when Lizzy is stressing over picking flowers for the wedding, the background music comes through with a humorous tone. This makes me sense that the mood is lighthearted but serious, and that's exactly how I felt.

The message of Hope's Legacy is that hope is where you find it, and you can't let people take that fight inside of you. We can see the fighter inside Lizzy, and she tries her hardest, with the help of her loved ones, not to lose it. There is one scene where Linda and Lizzy are talking about horse steroids, but otherwise it's very kid and family friendly.

Hope's Legacy is a film with a lot of heart. I rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults will also enjoy this! I definitely did. Hope's Legacy comes out on January 5, 2021, in theatres and digital. Make sure you check it out!

Reviewed by Avery P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The movie Hope's Legacy is a film that takes movie-watchers through a series of events such as love, marriage and problems with competition. This movie is unpredictable in a way that kept my attention. When I think something is going to happen, it doesn't happen. It's fun, unexpected and definitely a film worth watching.

Hope's Legacy is about a young woman named Lizzy (Taylor Lyons) who needs to take care of her grandmother's farm after her passing. Lizzy and her fiance James (Allen Williamson) are about to get married, but Lizzy is having second thoughts because of her commitment to riding horses again and her suspicions about an old friend of James. Lizzy meets a woman named Linda and her granddaughter Hailey who helps her train for horseback riding events. But James' old friend competes in these events too and that means Lizzy has problems and decisions to make.

Lizzy's stunt work is amazing. It looks like she is on the horse in the riding scenes but she's not. Linda (Dyan Cannon) coaches Lizzy so she can be a better rider. Her acting is believable because she makes me think that she really wants to help Lizzy win cross country. The way James shows his love for Lizzy made me feel like they actually have a relationship with each other in real life. Bethany (Abigail Reed) is really convincing when she tries to sabotage James and Lizzy's relationship. The background music really sets the mood of what is happening in the scenes. There is a bit of a plot hole in this movie. Bethany says that if Lizzy competes in the event and doesn't forfeit, she will get revenge. But, when Lizzy goes through with the competition anyway, Bethany never does anything. She just kicks the fence and walks away.

The message of Hope's Legacy is that you have to believe in yourself no matter what anyone says. There are not anything inappropriate for kids, except that they do talk about drugs and horse steroids. Other than that, this film is very family-friendly.

Hope's Legacy is a delightful movie to watch. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters and digitally January 5, 2021. Look for it!

Reviewed by Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

This is the perfect movie for a person who loves horses. I loved this movie; it has its happy moments as well as sad ones. I loved watching the main character discover what she wants for herself. I loved this movie because throughout the entire movie I could feel the emotions of the characters and what they were going through, I also love horses, so having one of the main characters be a horse made it that much more intriguing to me.

In this movie the plot follows the life of a young woman whose life changed drastically when her grandmother died. Her grandmother owned a ranch where Lizzy (the main character) rode her horse as a teenager. The ranch was left to Lizzy so she is on a journey to find what she really wants out of life. She gets back in the saddle and loves it. Her boyfriend decides to make a big change in their life for the better. This movie is a rollercoaster of emotions, I love that it shows the reality of life, that it is not always perfect but you have to make the best out of a bad situation. My favorite part of the movie was the show jumping competition, I loved this part of the movie because it showed how much Lizzy had grown in how she handles herself and how she and her horse have grown closer and are in sync with one another.

I really liked the performance of Taylor Lyons (Lizzy), I liked her performance because she showed real emotion and it did not look forced. I liked her performance made the whole movie seem more real and because so much had happened to the character I could tell from her expressions that she felt everything crashing down on her world. I also like Allen Williamson's (James) performance, I could see the emotion behind his eyes when he was talking. I loved that the emotion seemed natural.

The message of the film is when you want something, you have to work hard to get it. Lizzy really wanted to do eventing instead of a job, she works hard for what she wants and is able to succeed. She knew what she wanted so she went out and got it, with the help of her family and friends.

What stuck out about this movie most to me was the attention to detail, from the clothes used in riding to the measuring of the bar for the competition. They really did a great job making sure everything in the movie made sense with real life. I think that the little details make all the difference, this movie was well done in that regard.

This movie meets the KIDS FIRST! Guidelines. I would say that the audience for this movie would be people from ages 11-18. I think most people would enjoy it. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. I loved the attention to detail and the emotion shown.

Reviewed by Lorelei T., KIDS FIRST! Juror, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
LILLY'S LIGHT: THE MOVIE

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LILLY'S LIGHT: THE MOVIE - 12 PING�INOS S.L
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 512
Description - Lilly is a loving foster mom and the keeper of an enchanted lighthouse. With her spirited crew of kids, their exotic talking pets and zany friends, Lilly uses joy, love, laughter and song as her tools, and shows everyone that "Life is Full of Possibilities!" The adventure begins when two curious members of Lilly's crew discover the Big Book of Little Adventures in the lighthouse basement. Messenger-pelican, Pel Mel, brings news that newly orphaned Daniel and his pot-bellied pig, Oink, need a home. As sisters Peaches, (Mindy Sterling) and Dee, (Philece Sampler) snicker-bicker, Professor Crabbe, perfects the Illiator. Will and Al Patchitt prepare for guests, while Lilly, the kids and Uncle Fitz take Daniel on a musical journey where they meet Sir Oinks A Lot, the Wizard of Hog (Fred Willard). He discovers the secret of the lighthouse and how to turn the imaginary into magical adventure. As the adventure ends, our story returns us to present day in the lighthouse basement, several years later. We are reunited with slightly older yet familiar faces, introduced to a few new crewmembers, including cousin Kenny Patchitt (Rick Cowling), and the next chapter begins with a new spark of light. Lilly's Light is filled with original music, sparkling sets and strong message points to which children can relate. It "shines a light" on the issue of challenges facing foster children. It is an inspiring and uplifting adventure that will capture the hearts and minds of children and adults everywhere.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I find the musical aspect of Lilly's Light: The Movie appealing, especially for a youth audience. The music will keep children engaged and the songs enhance the storyline, as well as support the moral lessons expressed in each scene. Overall, the songs fit well within the context of the film.

The storyline follows Lilly (Sherry Hursey) genuinely, who is separated by her parents on a stormy night at sea, resulting in her becoming an orphan. She does not let this get to her and she still continues to let her light shine through. Her personal experience motivates her to create a home for orphaned children at her lighthouse.

I like how the story is told non-chronologically. It made me question what was going to happen, or what I was going to discover next. The camera work is well done. Lilly's costumes are delightful! She is very eccentric and her clothes match her character. The best way to describe it is that she dresses like a cool and funky art teacher. I enjoy the location being inside the lighthouse where Lilly's style is prominent as well. The kitchen is painted variations of pastel pinks and mint green. Even the furniture is oddly-shaped and funky and it works well. The walls are painted purple and yellow. The children have beds that suit each one's personality. For example, Katie Lynn's bed is a boat. In general, the lighthouse is very colorful and the d�cor directly correlates to Lilly's personality. Something else to notice is that, in the beginning, Lilly's Lighthouse is very bland and simple. So, the contrast between what Lilly has created for orphaned children is great. I also like the small details like pillowcases are clouds, relating to the saying "head in the clouds" (aka dreaming).

Since this film is a musical, the music definitely drives the action. When there is a plot point or something important happens, the cast breaks out into a song about what just happened. For example, when Daniel is upset about his grandmother, the rest of the kids in the lighthouse describe how they create story books with their imaginations to go on adventures. Their imagination allows them to escape reality for a little bit and come together to bond in creating a story world. I enjoy how the pages in the book look two dimensional at first, then eventually come to life in three dimensions. Sherry Hursey, as Lilly, embodies light with her over-the-top facial expressions. They work well and do not feel awkward, nor forced. You can really see her happiness and love for the kids every time she sings or smiles. With that being said, I would say the actors and the set designers are the key influencers. Even the child actors are great. I love the d�cor and colors of Lilly's lighthouse. It feels fun, safe and welcoming. I love it. Some of my favorite scenes are those with the pigs. They are cute and funny, especially when the pig talks in the kids' imagination world. I also like the costumes that the pigs are dressed in. Children would love those scenes also. This film has some notable talent, including: Sherry Hursey, Mindy Sterling, Brianne Tju, Gregory Paul Martin, Hal B. Klein, Newell Alexander, Fred Willard and Philece Sampler.

There are multiple positive messages in this film: We cannot change the situation, but we can change the way we react to it. People who love you do not need to be your family; they can also be your friends. Be a lighthouse, not a candle flame. With imagination, the possibilities are limitless. Life is full of possibilities. I resonated with many of these messages myself. They are issues that we all have to deal with. You should be aware that it does address the topic of losing a family member, which may be tough for some kids. The film does not go into detail about that and it is not the focus of the film.

I give Lilly's Light: The Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12, plus adults. The film is engaging and the songs are captivating. The many messages scattered throughout the film will leave children thinking about those messages and morals after viewing. Furthermore, this film speaks favorably about the foster care program. If more foster care homes were ran like Lilly's lighthouse, children would have a more positive outlook on life and connect better with others. Reviewed by Tor F., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Lilly's Light: The Movie is a very whimsical film! It is especially creative and has many great messages and entertaining content.

The storyline is about Lilly (Sherry Hursey), who was stranded from her parents at sea and is raised by a fisherman, Uncle Fitz (LeRoy White). Lilly grows up to become a foster mom to three young children. She easily helps others and eventually takes in more kids including Daniel (Vitor Philipe). Lilly reads to her foster kids about all the adventures she has had with other kids.

I enjoyed the fun personalities of all the characters. Everyone is very bubbly. The singing and musical fun is entertaining and lighthearted. The songs are motivating and very catchy. Some songs are a little slow, but for the most part it is upbeat. There are many fun talking animals which is very appealing. I also like the computerized characters that come to life. The background music is magical with lots of sound affects showing off certain moves, songs and games. The film is adventurous and playful. The costuming is especially creative and colorful. There is a point in the film where Lilly and the kids switch to a different time period. The costuming in this era has many medieval renaissance dresses and clothing. The background and setting starts in a colorful, magical lighthouse with has tons of cool inventions. My favorite thing is that the movie promotes imagination and inventions. The film may be a bit long for its intended audience.

There are multiple messages from the film. The recurring message is that life has endless possibilities and you should stay true to yourself. Lilly had to survive and help herself by making a family out of friends. By doing this she has many lessons to teach others. You should know that the film does include topics about orphans and foster kids. You also should know that your child may sing these songs over and over again!

I give Lilly's Light 2.5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It is currently streaming via Gathr At Home for children and families to watch and sing-a-long together.

Reviewed by Avery P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Lilly's Light: The Movie is a musical that shows people that they always need someone. The characters are fun and the songs have great messages. This film is enchanting and heartwarming.

Lilly's Light: The Movie is about a woman named Lilly, played by Sherry Hursey, who was a foster kid as a child. When Lilly becomes an adult, she uses a lighthouse to create a home for other foster children. A young boy named Daniel, played by Vitor Philipe, just lost his grandmother, his only known family member, making him a foster kid too. Lilly invites him to the family, but he declines and says he doesn't need anyone. But, Lilly and the kids take Daniel's book bag to keep him at the lighthouse long enough to convince him that he needs them after all.

The writers of Lilly's Light: The Movie uses storytelling to tell about the adventures of the foster kids. The scenes switch back and forth between the past and the present as the story is told. The set of the movie is colorful and appealing. For example, the colors of the furniture in the lighthouse give the house an artistic vibe. All of the songs in this film have a positive message. For example, the song "Life Is Full Of Possibilities" gives us the message that anything can happen in life. I like the talking goose, but the part I like the most is when Daniel realizes that he needs Lilly, because even though his grandmother is no longer with him, he has a new family now.

The message of Lilly's Light: The Movie is family isn't just your relatives, but it's the people who love and care for you. There aren't any inappropriate things to look out for in this film. This is actually a family-friendly film.

The music and the message of Lilly's Light: The Movie makes this film worth watching. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 13. Lilly's Light: The Movie is now playing in select theaters and virtually. Be sure to check it out!

Reviewed by Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I really appreciate that it took a lot of hard work and effort to make Lilly's Light: The Movie. Sherry Hursey co-wrote and produced the film, as well as performs in the lead role. It is very creative and is like no film I've ever seen before and is suitable for young children. However, the storyline and themes may be a bit confusing for them. The film has a lot of wavering fantasies and unrealistic things mixed with realistic, half-funny jokes.

The storyline follows a girl who is raised an orphan, Lilly (Sherry Hursey) who, as an adult, opens a foster care center in a lighthouse where she takes children on wonderful and magnificent journeys and brings joy to everyone's life. She helps a boy find happiness and imagination and takes all the children into an imaginary world that they make a scrapbook of to show people in the future.

Even though I didn't resonate with the storyline, the special effects and animation are well executed. There are beautiful transitions between the scenes and the music is very original and enjoyable. There are speaking animals, which are convincing and really funny. My favorite part is when they are in an imaginary pig-style version of Camelot with talking pigs that make jokes. This part is overall hilarious and ties together the deeper parts of the film. It is a bit corny and some of the dialogue isn't very realistic and doesn't draw you into the story.

The film's message is about joy, bravery and making the best out of what one has.

I give Lilly's Light: The Movie 3 out of 5 stars recommend it for ages 6-13, plus some adults. People who really like unique and out of the ordinary fantasy films will particularly enjoy it. It is currently streaming via Gathr At Home for children and families to watch and sing-a-long together. Reviewed by Rosemary K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The heartfelt film Lilly's Light: The Movie is perfect for young children. I love this movie because of the elements of magic and hope that are embedded throughout. Also, the message is clearly delivered through catchy songs.

This film follows a caring foster mother named Lilly and the keeper of a magical lighthouse. The real fun begins when members of Lilly's crew of children discover The Big Book of Little Adventures in the lighthouse basement. Inside the book, the talking pelican messenger Pel-Mel shows them Daniel, a poor orphan who isn't open to new people in his life. Lilly and her crew take him on a magical adventure where they meet the Wizard of Hog and Sir Oinks A Lot. But will Daniel loosen up and open his heart to new friends?

I really like how the film delivers strong messages through positive, uplifting and inspirational songs. This family-friendly musical is filled with colorful and playful sets that really engage young children. Sherry Hursey who plays Lilly acts with such passion and joy, she is like Mary Poppins in training!

This film conveys many uplifting messages, but the one that spoke to me most is: you have the power to change the way you think.

I give Lilly's Light: The Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 7 who will absolutely love this film and be begging for a sequel. Lilly's Light: The Movie is currently streaming via Gathr At Home for children and families to watch and sing-a-long together.

Reviewed by Kayla A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN
LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN - BETA FILM
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18
Description - 1779. Eight-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven, called "Louis", is already known as a musical prodigy. He learns to go his own way - much to the dismay of the people around him. Some years later, he meets Mozart during times of political upheaval. The unconventional genius and French Revolution are sparking a fire in Louis' heart; he doesn't want to serve a master - only the arts. Facing times of family tragedies and unrequited love, he almost gives up. However, Louis makes it to Vienna to study under Haydn in 1792, and the rest is history. Who was this man, whose music has since touched countless hearts and minds? At the end of his life, the master is isolated by loss of loved ones and hearing. Surely though, he was way ahead of his times.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The film, Louis Van Beethoven, is well executed and accurately depicts the life of Louis Van Beethoven. It was very interesting to observe how his character was shaped during his early childhood and how different life events helped him make decisions that had enormous results. The performance of all the different actors is exceptional. The film paints a great picture, and it makes the observer appreciate the daily life during Beethoven's time in the late 1700s. The details enhance the movie overall and the music, of course, brings unique touches to the film.

This biographical film focuses on the life of the famous composer Louis Van Beethoven (Colin Putz/Tobias Moretti/Anselm Bresgott). The film mixes the past and present to expose the major events that shaped Beethoven and ultimately led him to become one of the best known musicians in history. Focusing on his passions of music, freedom, and change, this film shines a light on the not very well known part of his story, but a very important one.

There are abrupt changes in time that can be confusing or hard to catch at first when the film switches between the past and present. However, these changes also help the film compare what acts in the past led Beethoven to make decisions in the present. The flow of the movie, its style and overall structure are all well executed. The actors give believable performances. The language and vocabulary may be a challenge for some audiences as some words may be unknown to younger generations, and even to some adults.

The cinematography is high quality and shows beautiful details about the daily life during this time period. The costumes are beautiful and they accurately portray what people wore in the late 1700s. The music is primarily classical pieces and they enhance the overall tone of the film.

This movie explores both the life of the compositor Beethoven and the time period in which he lived. The culture and customs of the people are showed and they can be appreciated, as they are very different from current times. The film focuses mainly in the formative years of Beethoven and how the various aspects he had to endure led him to become the man he is known for now. The film may encourage the viewer to learn more about Beethoven's life and about the other artists during the same era such as Mozart and Haydn. The movie seeks to explore a not very know part of the life of Beethoven. Through his story, it shows how the desire for freedom and wealth, and a fight for love, can have major influences in making decisions. Also, the film shows how family affects the progress of children, and how big an effect that events have on children's development.

Heavy drinking is present throughout the movie, and there are some scenes that depict strong actions (getting smacked, yelling, punching). The only profanity in the movie is the use of the word used to refer the bottom part of a person. There is a scene in which there is a suicide attempt. The only part showed is a gun being pulled to the air and then the man with a bandage in his head (no graphic scene is showed). There is a discussion about this scene after by the characters, in which the language is a little strong for a moment.

I give Louis Van Beethoven 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Due to the length of the film and the fact that the dialogue is in German, with English subtitles, I don't think most younger children would appreciate it. People with a musical background would find this as a great opportunity to learn more about Beethoven's history that is not very known.

Louis Van Beethoven is a film that shows how music and the desire of freedom were the main passions of the famous compositor. The film walks through his early years and it jumps occasionally to the present, which helps to see how one incident relates to another. Beethoven was a gifted musician since early childhood and this biographical film shows how he expressed his gift during his daily life. The film is well directed and executed, as all the performance of the actors are exceptional. The classical music he composed as well as some from other artists such as Mozart, add to the tone of the film. Releasing on virtual cinema, VOD and Digital December 2, 2020.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SAFETY

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SAFETY
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SAFETY - DISNEY+
Series: FEATURE, AGES 9 - 18
Description - The story of Ray-Ray McElrathbey, a freshman football player for Clemson University, who secretly raised his younger brother on campus after his home life became too unsteady.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I absolutely loved the film Safety. The story is so inspiring and motivational and the camera work is phenomenal. This story is heartbreaking, yet makes you hopeful. Some of the scenes are comical, balancing the problem and the solution perfectly. It was inspiring to watch the two brothers take care of each other, always putting family first. Every scene touched my heart.

The storyline follows the protagonist, Ray (Jay Reeves) who has been accepted to Clemson University on a scholarship to pursue his dream of being a football player, but his life at home is not so easy. His mother (Amanda Warren), whose husband left her, is addicted to drugs. Ray is left to care for his little brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson). Can Ray handle school, family, football and a little bit of love life? How can he take care of his brother if Fahmerr is not allowed on campus?

Jay Reeves, who plays Ray, acts with emotion and expression, putting his all into every scene. Some scenes brought me to tears and others had me rolling around in my chair with laughter. Thaddeus J. Mixson who plays Fahmarr, plays his character in a way that is very likeable and funny. Although his character is humorous, some of his scenes still break your heart . The casting directors made an excellent choice for all of the actors. The camera work is amazing. The transitions are very creative and the perspective is wonderful. For example, during a football game, there is a moment where all you can hear is Ray's breathing. The angle is as if you are looking from his eyes. The background music pumps you up for the games, making you excited and eager to see the results.

The message of this film is to put family first. Family is the most important thing in the world and you always have to be there for each other. No matter what happens, you can always rely on your family to help you out. There is no violence except during the football games. As usual there is tackling and pushing, although no one gets hurt. There is no bad language although there is a part during the film that is a bit creepy, with a group of men coming out of the shadows.

I give Safety 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18. Adults would also enjoy this film. Safety is streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting December 11, 2020.

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 9-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
STILLWATER

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STILLWATER - APPLE TV
Series: FEATURE, AGES 4-7
Description - Based on the Caldecott Honor Children's book series Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth, Stillwater is produced by Gaumont and Scholastic Entertainment and centers on siblings Karl, Addy and Michael, who are typical kids with typical kid challenges - meaning that sometimes even the smallest things can feel insurmountable. Fortunately for these three, they have Stillwater, a wise panda, as their next-door neighbor. Through his example, stories and gentle humor, Stillwater gives the children a deeper understanding of their feelings as well as tools that help them face their own day-to-day challenges. Stillwater also brings newfound fun and adventure for the three, opening their eyes to the quiet wonders of the world around them, and guiding them to their place within it.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Stillwater is a unique offering this winter, combining stories from around the world with an endearing cast, as well as profound morals. This superb bundle will surely be attractive to young viewers!

Stillwater revolves around siblings Karl, Addy and Michael who have a unique anthropomorphic mammal as their neighbor - a wise panda named (surprise, surprise) Stillwater! Stillwater loves tai-chi, trying new things and eating bamboo shoots. Plus he seems to have the answer to any question the three kids ask. Thus, they have a very special friendship and bond with Stillwater; his stories help shape their perspective on life, the work, and their relationships with others.

James Sie, Judah Mackey, Eva Binder and Tucker Chandler make up the main cast of this film. Binder and Chandler, who play Addy and Michael respectively, are secondary characters, whose performances don't necessarily take center-stage, but still are quite skillful. Speaking of center-stage, Sie, who plays Stillwater the zen-friendly panda, puts on a superb performance. He succeeds in capturing the essence of what (at least, I think) a panda would sound like if it could speak, with his deep and sonorous voice. Sie was a great choice to play Stillwater, who discusses Chinese and East Asian culture in the show since he himself is of Chinese descent. I also love Judah Mackey's portrayal of Karl, the inquisitive, sensitive youngest child in the family, who has a special affection for his panda friend. Mackey, along with many of the other characters in the film, help the show maintain its momentum because of their strong performances. A tip of the hat is in order for all the writers of the show, as well as the animators and producers behind it, as they seamlessly and intricately detail Stillwater the panda's famed stories with backdrops of Chinese villages, Indian temples, Central American forests and adorable cartoonish animal characters from all regions. The inclusion and appreciation of cultural elements, specifically from Asia, is refreshing and exactly what we like to see! The score of the show also really stands out, as the serene notes of the Xiao, sitar and guitar help accent all of the six episodes' action-packed scenes.

Each episode of this show promotes a different, positive message. These include perseverance, patience, recognizing your inner talent, overcoming your fears, teamwork and being there for those you love. Stillwater promotes positive social behavior and is a great family watch.

I give Stillwater 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 7. Stillwater is releasing
Juror Recommended Age: 4-7 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



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