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This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
HONK

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HONK
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HONK - VISION FILMS
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 7-18
Description - The power of love shines in this heartwarming tale of f friendship and inspiration between an unlikely duo. Cheryl inadvertently befriends a mourning goose, Honk, while recycling in the local park. As the budding friendship blossoms and Cheryl seeks Honk a new home, he becomes a viral sensation capturing the hearts and minds of millions.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Honk is incredibly sweet and heartwarming documentary. The subjects are interesting and the story is exciting, due to its oddness. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story follows a woman who forms a friendship with a goose during the pandemic and ends up getting over 80K followers on Instagram.

Cheryl's story of meeting this goose during the pandemic is so unexpected and slightly crazy. The idea that she met Honk the good during a time when we were all social distancing and formed a relationship with him is endearing - both of them needed a friend, someone to be with. The cinematography is very good, keeping things exciting while also staying simple. A lot of this film is filmed on a cell phone, which works just fine. I love the locations, especially those at the park. And I like how Cheryl added little hearts on the side of her phone videos - which worked particularly well for attracting attention on social media. Her videos on social media are absolutely adorable. This story is so unusual, and Cheryl's motivations are honest and pure. When someone tells her that he must be a domestic goose, not a wild one, she is concerned about returning him to an appropriate environment and feels that she needs to find his mate. Honk is a character in his own right as well, something not always explored in the usual animal documentaries. Honk is the best "pandemic pal" a girl could ask for. He's safe, he's devoted to her, and he has a charming personality. There are some sad aspects to this documentary, such as when Honk dies two years later which Cheryl tells Honk's social media followers on Instagram, accompanied by sad music and clips of better times.

The message of this film is about the importance of bringing love and hope into people's lives - whether through a human or non-human. If you show love, you get love!

I give Honk 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Bring your tissues because Honk's passing is a reminder to us all how life is eternal. By Sandrine A. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Such a wholesome joy of a film is hard to come by. Honk should be required watching for those who feel like they're losing faith in the goodness of humanity and the beauty of companionship. Beautiful, raw emotion is captured in a mix of videos that were either collected from social media or filmed by the camera team, but beyond the technical bits of the film, the plot is what shines through. Especially for animal-lovers, this is a great watch.

Honk is a remarkable tale of unlikely companionship. Dallas native Cheryl Allison inadvertently befriends a loud, chatty goose she names Honk; she realizes he is mourning the loss of a loved one and their bond grows deeper. As the friendship blossoms, Cheryl seeks to find Honk a new home and he becomes a viral sensation across nations. The beautiful relationship between the two (not owner and pet but two equal friends) is wonderful to watch.

The direction and editing by Cheryl Allison are beautifully-executed. What's really nice is that the subject of the documentary is the same person who directs and edits it; this means that she has been able to choose the most moving portions of footage and cut it together. I also love how the choice of music accentuates the mood of the more emotional scenes; the lyrics from the credits -- "think about where we have been, the joy we shared with friends who cared, all the things we've seen" -- were especially touching as they summarized the theme of the film. I like the contrast between the footage taken by the camera team and how formal and traditional it feels compared to the footage taken by Cheryl, which is more fun and informal.

Honk promotes finding those who support you and, in turn, helping others, whether animal or human, in times of difficulty. The compassion exhibited by Cheryl in this film also serves to push the message that we should care for animals, even those we wouldn't consider domesticated or "pets," because they too have highs and lows in their lives like we do.

I give Honk 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Honk releases November 15, 2022 on digital and DVD.< p>By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Honk is a heartwarming documentary that follows the friendship between director and editor, Cheryl Allison, and a lovable goose. She successfully shows viewers how her friendship with a goose impacted her life. At a time when everything was uncertain in the world, this goose was the "honk heard 'round the world." He was able to reach out, in spite of social distancing constraints, and spread happiness to others.

This documentary is set during the COVID pandemic, when social distancing regulations were in effect. While on a walk Cheryl notices a goose approaching her. She names him Honk and they become instant friends. Cheryl decides to record her time with Honk and her videos and posts with him go viral on social media. She receives word from her friend, Mary Beth Purdy that Honk is a domestic goose and is in danger. Now Cheryl is on a mission to help save her goose friend from a harmful environment, predators and the new risks that social media has brought to him.

This documentary is touching and beautiful. My favorite scene is when Cheryl goes back to the pond the day after she first meets Honk and records herself calling to him. Honk immediately recognizes her voice and swims to her. She talks to him and he responds with his honking sounds. This shows how attached Honk was to her from the start. The film is a mix of interviews, zoom meetings and videos of Cheryl with Honk. The added footage of her initial recordings with Honk are delightfully entertaining. It gives viewers a better understanding of Cheryl and Honk's friendship and the bond they create with each other as time progresses. The information about animals in the film, by experts Mary Beth Purdy and Kathy Rogers, is insightful and adds depth to the understanding of caring for these types of animals. In addition, the music at the end of the documentary fits well with the theme.

The message of this film is about love and the connections you make with others. Love and a need for companionship is what drove Honk and Cheryl together. It then drove her to protect him. While watching, we also gain a better understanding of what animals need, the importance of protecting animals, and what we can contribute to help keep these animals safe.

I give Honk 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Honk releases November 15, 2022 on digital platforms and DVD.

By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17
Runtime: 46 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 7-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
DINOSAUR SCHOOL
DINOSAUR SCHOOL - DANA LEIGH SNYDER (NORA 6592)
Series: PRESCHOOL SHORT, AGES 2-5
Description - When a new student comes to Dinosaur School, he doesn't look or act like all the others. It isn't long before this new student finds friends.

From the minds and hands of 5 year olds, 'Dinosaur School' is a story created and partially animated by Urban Wildlife Arts "Animated Storytelling" class.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I love the concept of Dinosaur School and love that it was created by the hands and minds of five-year-olds. The characters and animation are interesting and fun.

The story follows a new student who enrolls in Dinosaur School. He doesn't look or act like the other students, but at Dinosaur School, everyone is welcome and he soon makes new friends.

The story is adorable. I would love to see it developed more, but this is a super cute start. The animation style is really interesting; it looks like paper cut outs that move. All the characters are well drawn and interesting. For a film made by pre-school students, the character drawings are quite impressive. The "new student" is particularly interesting, its name is a dead giveaway - E.T. - and E.T. appears to be very alien-like in appearance. I love the scene when E.T. is introduced to the class and the class's reaction to meeting E.T. I also enjoyed all of the backgrounds and there are quite a few. The music and sound effects are fun, lively and appropriate to the story. My favorite sound effect is of the rocketship taking off. In terms of the characters and their interaction, they are all very friendly and upbeat; the voice talent is made up of a group of preschoolers who definitely work together as a tight ensemble cast. That is without a doubt my favorite thing about this film, the young creators who designed and executed the story and the film are truly given a voice and a platform. I love that they are all five-year-olds - very impressive. The photo at the end of film showing this talented group made me giggle. Also to be commended is the director, Dana Leigh Snyder, who portrays The Teacher in the film.

The message of this film is to accept and embrace others who may be different from you and to find common ground.

I give Dinosaur School 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. By Selene W. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the concept of Dinosaur School and love that it was created by the hands and minds of five-year-olds. The characters and animation are interesting and fun.

The story follows a new student who enrolls in Dinosaur School. He doesn't look or act like the other students, but at Dinosaur School, everyone is welcome and he soon makes new friends.

The story is adorable. I would love to see it developed more, but this is a super cute start. The animation style is really interesting; it looks like paper cut outs that move. All the characters are well drawn and interesting. For a film made by pre-school students, the character drawings are quite impressive. The "new student" is particularly interesting, its name is a dead giveaway - E.T. - and E.T. appears to be very alien-like in appearance. I love the scene when E.T. is introduced to the class and the class's reaction to meeting E.T. I also enjoyed all of the backgrounds and there are quite a few. The music and sound effects are fun, lively and appropriate to the story. My favorite sound effect is of the rocketship taking off. In terms of the characters and their interaction, they are all very friendly and upbeat; the voice talent is made up of a group of preschoolers who definitely work together as a tight ensemble cast. That is without a doubt my favorite thing about this film, the young creators who designed and executed the story and the film are truly given a voice and a platform. I love that they are all five-year-olds - very impressive. The photo at the end of film showing this talented group made me giggle. Also to be commended is the director, Dana Leigh Snyder, who portrays The Teacher in the film.

The message of this film is to accept and embrace others who may be different from you and to find common ground.

I give Dinosaur School 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. By Selene W. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 5 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 2-5 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
SHHH!
SHHH! - VIRGINIE KAHN
Series: FOREIGN ANIMATED SHORT, AGES 8-18
Description - Between fairy tale and children's comedy, Shhh! Is freely adapted from a live performance. In the 1920s, an inhibited young boy and a girl discover a marvelous book in which live three tiny beings - living letters - that only they can see and hear.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I really like Shhh!, because of its fantastical story and surprises, not to mention fabulous characters.

The film is about a young boy and girl who discover a marvelous book in which lives three tiny beings that only they can see and hear. A cross between a fairy tale and a children's comedy, this film is adapted from a live performance. The short film is from France, with dialogue in French, with English subtitles.

This is definitely my favorite film of the day! It is absolutely magical and delightful. I really enjoyed how the book's characters escape from the book into the real world. That is quite a little fantasy and the camerawork is quite good, as the characters truly look teeny when they are inside the book. The two children are quite delightful, as they portray sweet and na�ve young children from another age, in costumes straight out of the early 1900s. The park setting works well for this adventure, but the book is really the star here, as the little people escape from it, dance around on top of its pages, and we can't help but wonder what the young children are thinking as they take it all in. The background music and sound effects are superb. My favorite science is when the little people little people dance on top of the book, to hand slapping rhythmic accompaniment, then put the book down and all the pages fly away. It leaves us to wonder whether or not the whole thing was real or make believe. The key cast is played by Benoit Maurin, Marion Parrinello, Louve Reiniche Larroche, Enki Lebigot-Dymon and Amance Barbosa Canterini. Hats off to them all. Great performances!

The message of the film is that we must always keep our eyes open for magic that happens around us; you just never know when something unusual might happen.

I give Shhh! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. By Elizabeth V. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really like Shhh!, because of its fantastical story and surprises, not to mention fabulous characters.

The film is about a young boy and girl who discover a marvelous book in which lives three tiny beings that only they can see and hear. A cross between a fairy tale and a children's comedy, this film is adapted from a live performance. The short film is from France, with dialogue in French, with English subtitles.

This is definitely my favorite film of the day! It is absolutely magical and delightful. I really enjoyed how the book's characters escape from the book into the real world. That is quite a little fantasy and the camerawork is quite good, as the characters truly look teeny when they are inside the book. The two children are quite delightful, as they portray sweet and na�ve young children from another age, in costumes straight out of the early 1900s. The park setting works well for this adventure, but the book is really the star here, as the little people escape from it, dance around on top of its pages, and we can't help but wonder what the young children are thinking as they take it all in. The background music and sound effects are superb. My favorite science is when the little people little people dance on top of the book, to hand slapping rhythmic accompaniment, then put the book down and all the pages fly away. It leaves us to wonder whether or not the whole thing was real or make believe. The key cast is played by Benoit Maurin, Marion Parrinello, Louve Reiniche Larroche, Enki Lebigot-Dymon and Amance Barbosa Canterini. Hats off to them all. Great performances!

The message of the film is that we must always keep our eyes open for magic that happens around us; you just never know when something unusual might happen.

I give Shhh! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. By Elizabeth V. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 9 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
LGBTQ+ 101
LGBTQ+ 101 - ALAN CHRIEST / POWERSPASH PROJECT
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18
Description - This country takes hate very seriously - and there are over 900 organized hate groups to prove it. Our society is increasingly apathetic and violent. Early on, many are taught to hate the enemy, to be fearful of the other, to feel threatened by those different from them. Participating in groups with hateful beliefs and expressions provides a connection that perhaps fills the emptiness or inner pain. It is time to separate the facts from the myths about LGBTQ+.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I like the film LGBTQ+ 101 and found it very informative. The film is mostly voiceovers with stock images, which weakens its message of inclusion. I liked the beginning with its definitions, however.

This film is about LGBTQ people in America and their history and tries to separate the facts from the myths about LGBTQ+.

This documentary gives an informative overview of the history of LGBTQ+ people. The visuals are a combination of still images, moving images and graphics on-screen, which are manipulated in many ways. I like the images at the beginning of the film and the peaceful images at the end as well. The film is a montage of images enhanced by a narrative that explains the concepts of various gender identities, and the words used to define them. The background music is pretty non-intrusive and the narrator drives the film. What sticks out the most, visually is the editing as it is fast-paced and constantly changing. My favorite part is the scroll of names of LGBTQ+ people at the end. That truly emphasizes the filmmaker's point.

The message of the film is that hate is wrong and inclusion is important. You should be aware that there is some nudity shown and some violent images or images showing the aftermath of violence.

I give LGBTQ+ 101 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. By Sandrine A. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like the film LGBTQ+ 101 and found it very informative. The film is mostly voiceovers with stock images, which weakens its message of inclusion. I liked the beginning with its definitions, however.

This film is about LGBTQ people in America and their history and tries to separate the facts from the myths about LGBTQ+.

This documentary gives an informative overview of the history of LGBTQ+ people. The visuals are a combination of still images, moving images and graphics on-screen, which are manipulated in many ways. I like the images at the beginning of the film and the peaceful images at the end as well. The film is a montage of images enhanced by a narrative that explains the concepts of various gender identities, and the words used to define them. The background music is pretty non-intrusive and the narrator drives the film. What sticks out the most, visually is the editing as it is fast-paced and constantly changing. My favorite part is the scroll of names of LGBTQ+ people at the end. That truly emphasizes the filmmaker's point.

The message of the film is that hate is wrong and inclusion is important. You should be aware that there is some nudity shown and some violent images or images showing the aftermath of violence.

I give LGBTQ+ 101 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. By Sandrine A. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 8 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
PERFECT DATE, THE
PERFECT DATE, THE - LORA BATCHELOR MIDDLE SCHOOL
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 8-12
Description - This is a romantic teen comedy about a boy who wants to ask a girl out- but must first pass the test from her dad.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The romantic teen comedy, The Perfect Date, takes a humorous look at a dad's intervention in pre-screening a young man who wants to take his daughter on a date.

The story follows Caleb (Hank Conrad) wanting to take Brooklyn (Quinn Reynolds) on a date and going to her house to ask her dad (David Schunk) for permission. The Dad decides that he needs to pre-screen Caleb by having Caleb take him on a date first.

This is a cute storyline and uses flashbacks to Brook's parents' first date as background to support his argument. The camera work is pretty good, although the interior lighting is not so good. The audio works most of the time, although the levels jump around a bit. The setting is pretty typical middle America, as are the costumes and they all work for the storyline. I really like how they used the flashbacks to the parent's first date and when those shots appear, they are a bit faded, as if they are archival footage - very cleverly done. The acting is spot on and believable. There isn't any background music or sound effects, at least none that stick out. What does stick out are the titles which are perfect for the film. My favorite part are the outtakes that play after the credits. It's always fun to see bloopers and these definitely made me giggle.

The message is that sometimes you're overprotectiveness is a reflection of what you did in the past. But, we love dads who want to protect their teen daughters.

I give The Perfect Date 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Reviewed by Makena P. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The romantic teen comedy, The Perfect Date, takes a humorous look at a dad's intervention in pre-screening a young man who wants to take his daughter on a date.

The story follows Caleb (Hank Conrad) wanting to take Brooklyn (Quinn Reynolds) on a date and going to her house to ask her dad (David Schunk) for permission. The Dad decides that he needs to pre-screen Caleb by having Caleb take him on a date first.

This is a cute storyline and uses flashbacks to Brook's parents' first date as background to support his argument. The camera work is pretty good, although the interior lighting is not so good. The audio works most of the time, although the levels jump around a bit. The setting is pretty typical middle America, as are the costumes and they all work for the storyline. I really like how they used the flashbacks to the parent's first date and when those shots appear, they are a bit faded, as if they are archival footage - very cleverly done. The acting is spot on and believable. There isn't any background music or sound effects, at least none that stick out. What does stick out are the titles which are perfect for the film. My favorite part are the outtakes that play after the credits. It's always fun to see bloopers and these definitely made me giggle.

The message is that sometimes you're overprotectiveness is a reflection of what you did in the past. But, we love dads who want to protect their teen daughters.

I give The Perfect Date 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Reviewed by Makena P. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 5 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
MILLARD FILLMORE
MILLARD FILLMORE - LORA BATCHELOR MIDDLE SCHOOL
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 8 TO 18
Description - This is a short documentary about President Millard Fillmore and his legacy as President.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This short one-minute documentary, Millard Fillmore, is fast and furious. It is very informative in a fast-paced recap of who Fillmore was and why we remember him.

This middle school produced short documentary describes President Millard Fillmore and his legacy as the 13th U.S. President.

This very short documentary does its job - we learn about who Millard Fillmore was and the highlights of his life, from birth in a small log cabin in upstate New York, to his political career, his term as Vice President and rise to President upon the death of U.S. President Zachary Taylor. The background music includes the song Hail to the Chief, which adds a certain sense of triumph to the development of the story. There are no special effects. The middle school filmmaker, Oscar McDermott-Sipe is to be commended for his use of still images, graphics, rapid-fire narration and snappy editing to create a compelling overview of this remarkable man and politician in 67 seconds.

This message of the film is to make us aware of this U.S. President, Millard Fillmore. This film reminds us that this man, who rose from rags to fame, represents the idea that the U.S.A is a place where dreams can come true.

It give Millard Fillmore 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. By Sandrine A. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This short one-minute documentary, Millard Fillmore, is fast and furious. It is very informative in a fast-paced recap of who Fillmore was and why we remember him.

This middle school produced short documentary describes President Millard Fillmore and his legacy as the 13th U.S. President.

This very short documentary does its job - we learn about who Millard Fillmore was and the highlights of his life, from birth in a small log cabin in upstate New York, to his political career, his term as Vice President and rise to President upon the death of U.S. President Zachary Taylor. The background music includes the song Hail to the Chief, which adds a certain sense of triumph to the development of the story. There are no special effects. The middle school filmmaker, Oscar McDermott-Sipe is to be commended for his use of still images, graphics, rapid-fire narration and snappy editing to create a compelling overview of this remarkable man and politician in 67 seconds.

This message of the film is to make us aware of this U.S. President, Millard Fillmore. This film reminds us that this man, who rose from rags to fame, represents the idea that the U.S.A is a place where dreams can come true.

It give Millard Fillmore 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. By Sandrine A. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 1 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
COOKIE THIEF, THE
COOKIE THIEF, THE - LORA BATCHELOR MIDDLE SCHOOL
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 8-12
Description - This is a silent film about a little boy who is trying to get into the cookie jar at his home. After struggling, he finally succeeds but is in for a big surprise.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I enjoyed The Cookie Thief for its comedy and effort to address sibling rivalry. I also like that it's made as a silent film and the actor in it manages to tell a story without words.

This is a comedic silent film about a boy who is trying to sneak into the cookie jar at his home. After struggling, he finally succeeds but is in for a surprise.

This is a fun and simple middle student film, which is sure to relate to younger audiences. I enjoyed the physical comedy of this film. The boy, played by Henry Goodwin, carries the entire film, and does it quite well. The camerawork is quite good - with good lighting and varied camera angles. The costumes are pretty typical middle America casual wear. The setting - at the boy's house, also suits the storyline. I enjoyed the stealth like moves of the cookie thief as he sneaks into the house and moves room by room to his target room, the kitchen. His summersaults remind me of the moves from a 007 film (sort of). There is a scene where he's standing on a wobbly chair that feels fake, but it doesn't interfere with the intention of the film or the comedy as a whole. When he finally gets the cookie jar down from way on top of the kitchen cabinets, only to discover that someone beat him to it, well - game over! The background music throughout the film truly contributes to the comedy and movement of the storyline. Abigail Goodwin is the director, writer and producer as well as the antagonist. My favorite part is when the cookie thief somersaults his way through the house and overcomes the wobbly chair situation in the kitchen.

The message of this film is to monitor the cookie jar.

I give The Cookie Thief 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. By Selene W. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I enjoyed The Cookie Thief for its comedy and effort to address sibling rivalry. I also like that it's made as a silent film and the actor in it manages to tell a story without words.

This is a comedic silent film about a boy who is trying to sneak into the cookie jar at his home. After struggling, he finally succeeds but is in for a surprise.

This is a fun and simple middle student film, which is sure to relate to younger audiences. I enjoyed the physical comedy of this film. The boy, played by Henry Goodwin, carries the entire film, and does it quite well. The camerawork is quite good - with good lighting and varied camera angles. The costumes are pretty typical middle America casual wear. The setting - at the boy's house, also suits the storyline. I enjoyed the stealth like moves of the cookie thief as he sneaks into the house and moves room by room to his target room, the kitchen. His summersaults remind me of the moves from a 007 film (sort of). There is a scene where he's standing on a wobbly chair that feels fake, but it doesn't interfere with the intention of the film or the comedy as a whole. When he finally gets the cookie jar down from way on top of the kitchen cabinets, only to discover that someone beat him to it, well - game over! The background music throughout the film truly contributes to the comedy and movement of the storyline. Abigail Goodwin is the director, writer and producer as well as the antagonist. My favorite part is when the cookie thief somersaults his way through the house and overcomes the wobbly chair situation in the kitchen.

The message of this film is to monitor the cookie jar.

I give The Cookie Thief 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. By Selene W. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 3 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
LONELY BUT NOT ALONE
LONELY BUT NOT ALONE - SOPHIE E. HARTMANN
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 8 TO 18
Description - A person in a big city with social anxiety and a fear of groups of people.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I really love the student short film, Lonely But Not Alone. It's very relatable to many people. The lack of narrative and quietness explains a lot about how the boy is feeling and I love that. The way he moves within the film is well executed.

This film follows a teen boy (Roland Hernandez) in the big city who is having a lot of social anxiety and getting very quiet.

I like how easy it is to relate to the story and how the film helps the audience sees how this boy is not along, and that they are not alone either. A lot of people have anxiety and it's easy to forget there are others struggling too. There is one main character, lots of background people and one girl who briefly interacts with him, and expresses kindness when she puts her hand on his as his shakes. The camera work is quite good. They make use of lots of different angles and different distances from the main character. The boy's attire is a key part of this film, it shows us that this is happening right now; it has for years, but especially right now, during this hard time, people like this boy have social anxiety. I like that the film is set in a big, busy city. It shows how, even in the midst of lots of people and lots of activity, you can feel alone. It can be overwhelming. We hear the noise of the city, and how the boy, at last, relaxes in the grass, puts in his ear buds and seems at peace. Roland Hernandez seems to have really dug deep into his character. He portrays his subject very well. The director, Sophie E. Hartmann seems to have put a lot of effort into creating this short film and I feel it's quite astonishing. My favorite part was when the boy lies down in the grass with his air buds; I really related to that. Many people do that to just get away from the world and I feel that shows us how much this film matters. My favorite part in that scene is when he slowly closes his eyes; that drew me in.

The message is that no one is alone. There are times when you forget that, but remember, there are people there for you and there are others going through the same thing - you are not alone.

I give Lonely But Not Alone 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. By Makena P. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really love the student short film, Lonely But Not Alone. It's very relatable to many people. The lack of narrative and quietness explains a lot about how the boy is feeling and I love that. The way he moves within the film is well executed.

This film follows a teen boy (Roland Hernandez) in the big city who is having a lot of social anxiety and getting very quiet.

I like how easy it is to relate to the story and how the film helps the audience sees how this boy is not along, and that they are not alone either. A lot of people have anxiety and it's easy to forget there are others struggling too. There is one main character, lots of background people and one girl who briefly interacts with him, and expresses kindness when she puts her hand on his as his shakes. The camera work is quite good. They make use of lots of different angles and different distances from the main character. The boy's attire is a key part of this film, it shows us that this is happening right now; it has for years, but especially right now, during this hard time, people like this boy have social anxiety. I like that the film is set in a big, busy city. It shows how, even in the midst of lots of people and lots of activity, you can feel alone. It can be overwhelming. We hear the noise of the city, and how the boy, at last, relaxes in the grass, puts in his ear buds and seems at peace. Roland Hernandez seems to have really dug deep into his character. He portrays his subject very well. The director, Sophie E. Hartmann seems to have put a lot of effort into creating this short film and I feel it's quite astonishing. My favorite part was when the boy lies down in the grass with his air buds; I really related to that. Many people do that to just get away from the world and I feel that shows us how much this film matters. My favorite part in that scene is when he slowly closes his eyes; that drew me in.

The message is that no one is alone. There are times when you forget that, but remember, there are people there for you and there are others going through the same thing - you are not alone.

I give Lonely But Not Alone 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. By Makena P. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 2 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
NEST (2022)
NEST (2022) - TODD LIEN
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 12-18
Description - When Sam, an orphan that steals for a living, introduces the newly lost boy, Jacob, into his chosen family of orphans, he doesn't realize the risk and danger this decision will bring upon his family. Will "The Mister", the owner of the warehouse these orphans live in find out that they don't have enough stolen prizes to pay him and take drastic measures to make up for the difference? Or what will Jacob do for this new family he stumble upon on the street?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I really liked the short film, Nest. It's probably one of the best I have seen in some time and has a great message. The music and the acting are all well executed. I have a few issues with the plot, but for the most part it is well made, held my interest and has a profound message about the dangers to homeless youth.

The storyline follows Sam (Sean Hoover), a young orphan who steals for a living and who meets up and with a newly lost boy, Jacob (Jason Son). He introduces Jacob into his family of orphans, not realizing the danger that decision will bring to his family.

The plot is very interesting -- these orphaned children have very hard lives and are stealing goods that are turned over to an adult that is only interested in what they bring to him. The story draws you in as you see the hardships of these young children and realized how they are taken advantage of. The camerawork is terrific; even the scenes at night are well filmed and adequately lit. The costumes work well; all the kids wear dirty, ragged and holey clothes. The settings are very realistic looking. I love the background music and how perfectly the music fits everywhere, especially in the final scene when the police - that music is bittersweet music and a perfect fit as we see the children being taken away. All of the actors perform very well and their roles are all well-defined, especially Jason Sun who plays Jacob. It is easy to believe they are the characters they play. My favorite scene is the ending, when the kids are being taken away by the police because, even though it's sad, there is hope that they will be taken better care of, and not forced to steal for someone else in order to survive..

The message this film offers is an awareness of sex and labor trafficking that happens to homeless youth.

I give Nest 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. By Kendall B. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really liked the short film, Nest. It's probably one of the best I have seen in some time and has a great message. The music and the acting are all well executed. I have a few issues with the plot, but for the most part it is well made, held my interest and has a profound message about the dangers to homeless youth.

The storyline follows Sam (Sean Hoover), a young orphan who steals for a living and who meets up and with a newly lost boy, Jacob (Jason Son). He introduces Jacob into his family of orphans, not realizing the danger that decision will bring to his family.

The plot is very interesting -- these orphaned children have very hard lives and are stealing goods that are turned over to an adult that is only interested in what they bring to him. The story draws you in as you see the hardships of these young children and realized how they are taken advantage of. The camerawork is terrific; even the scenes at night are well filmed and adequately lit. The costumes work well; all the kids wear dirty, ragged and holey clothes. The settings are very realistic looking. I love the background music and how perfectly the music fits everywhere, especially in the final scene when the police - that music is bittersweet music and a perfect fit as we see the children being taken away. All of the actors perform very well and their roles are all well-defined, especially Jason Sun who plays Jacob. It is easy to believe they are the characters they play. My favorite scene is the ending, when the kids are being taken away by the police because, even though it's sad, there is hope that they will be taken better care of, and not forced to steal for someone else in order to survive..

The message this film offers is an awareness of sex and labor trafficking that happens to homeless youth.

I give Nest 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. By Kendall B. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 15 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
KITE, THE
KITE, THE - MATT BENSON
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 5-12
Description - A story of childhood, parenthood, and asking for help. Set in the 1930s, Robert, a young boy, wants nothing more than a brand-new kite, but what will his dad say about it?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I enjoy the short film, The Kite. It's about being creative.

Set in the 1930s, a boy's request to get a kite takes a turn of events that leads him to realize something that he never thought of.

The storyline is very clear: boy wants kite, father does not agree, father draws a design; son builds the kite based on the design; boy achieves his dream. The execution of the film is exceptionally good and its setting in the 1930s very believable, from the way the boy and his father interact to the costumes, the locations, and the point of view of the camera. The quality of camerawork is excellent, although at times the lighting is a bit lacking, as in some interior shots. The outside shots are better lit and almost romantic in how they appear. The background music stands out as one thing that really enhances the tone of the film, from the boy running with his kite, to feeling Robert's sorry, and then to the happy ending. The main character, the young boy, Robert (Wynton Ware) tugs at your heartstrings, especially in dealing with his rather emotionless father (Walter Burnham) at the film's beginning. This interaction was so typical of father/child relationships during the early 1900s and we are happy when the dad become compassionate and orders a kit for his son, then helps him assemble it. My favorite part of the film is when Robert and his dad assemble the kite together.

The message of the film is that there is more than one way to achieve a dream. The sub-message is that taking time to be present with your child is more important than anything else.

I give The Kite 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. By Tom W., and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I enjoy the short film, The Kite. It's about being creative.

Set in the 1930s, a boy's request to get a kite takes a turn of events that leads him to realize something that he never thought of.

The storyline is very clear: boy wants kite, father does not agree, father draws a design; son builds the kite based on the design; boy achieves his dream. The execution of the film is exceptionally good and its setting in the 1930s very believable, from the way the boy and his father interact to the costumes, the locations, and the point of view of the camera. The quality of camerawork is excellent, although at times the lighting is a bit lacking, as in some interior shots. The outside shots are better lit and almost romantic in how they appear. The background music stands out as one thing that really enhances the tone of the film, from the boy running with his kite, to feeling Robert's sorry, and then to the happy ending. The main character, the young boy, Robert (Wynton Ware) tugs at your heartstrings, especially in dealing with his rather emotionless father (Walter Burnham) at the film's beginning. This interaction was so typical of father/child relationships during the early 1900s and we are happy when the dad become compassionate and orders a kit for his son, then helps him assemble it. My favorite part of the film is when Robert and his dad assemble the kite together.

The message of the film is that there is more than one way to achieve a dream. The sub-message is that taking time to be present with your child is more important than anything else.

I give The Kite 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. By Tom W., and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 10 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
OCEAN THERAPY
OCEAN THERAPY - LEVI MULDER
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 5-18
Description - Two brothers make a film about how surfing and the ocean got them through the pandemic. They travel to San Pancho, Mexico and capture the amazing beauty of the ocean.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I enjoyed the short documentary, Ocean Therapy. It is relatable to everyone who experienced the pandemic, but especially kids. The cinematography is well executed, especially for a youth made film.

The storyline follows Judah Mulder during the pandemic and how he coped with it by surfing in San Pancho, Mexico.

This short film is about surfing and how the ocean can help you cope with rough times. I like how the film follows a young person finding his way through COVID-19. It's different for everyone, so it's interesting to see what someone found comfort in while e-learning and social distancing. The cinematography is very strong. The most impressive shots are those taken by a drone. The water looks so beautiful and the quality of drone images are really the best in the film. The other camera work is good, but not as clear as the drone shots. The beaches in San Pancho and San Francisco are so picturesque. I kind of want to go there now! The music is one of the highlights of the film and it's impressive in that it is all original work by Cole Sandman. The music really enhances the flow of the film. Judah Mulder is the main subject of the film. He speaks very clearly and his vocabulary is easy for kids to understand. Sixteen-year-old Levi Mulder wrote, directed and produced this film, plus it is his first film, which is pretty impressive. This film looks quite professional. My favorite part is when Judah explains how surfing and the ocean is like therapy to him (hence the film's name).

The film's message is that you can find therapy in your favorite hobbies and places. You should know that the film shows kids doing risky things that kids might imitate. Surfing is a somewhat risky thing. If you aren't an experienced surfer, I recommend finding an instructor.

I give Ocean Therapy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. This would be a great inclusion in a festival focused on the environment, sports, mental health or the pandemic. By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I enjoyed the short documentary, Ocean Therapy. It is relatable to everyone who experienced the pandemic, but especially kids. The cinematography is well executed, especially for a youth made film.

The storyline follows Judah Mulder during the pandemic and how he coped with it by surfing in San Pancho, Mexico.

This short film is about surfing and how the ocean can help you cope with rough times. I like how the film follows a young person finding his way through COVID-19. It's different for everyone, so it's interesting to see what someone found comfort in while e-learning and social distancing. The cinematography is very strong. The most impressive shots are those taken by a drone. The water looks so beautiful and the quality of drone images are really the best in the film. The other camera work is good, but not as clear as the drone shots. The beaches in San Pancho and San Francisco are so picturesque. I kind of want to go there now! The music is one of the highlights of the film and it's impressive in that it is all original work by Cole Sandman. The music really enhances the flow of the film. Judah Mulder is the main subject of the film. He speaks very clearly and his vocabulary is easy for kids to understand. Sixteen-year-old Levi Mulder wrote, directed and produced this film, plus it is his first film, which is pretty impressive. This film looks quite professional. My favorite part is when Judah explains how surfing and the ocean is like therapy to him (hence the film's name).

The film's message is that you can find therapy in your favorite hobbies and places. You should know that the film shows kids doing risky things that kids might imitate. Surfing is a somewhat risky thing. If you aren't an experienced surfer, I recommend finding an instructor.

I give Ocean Therapy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. This would be a great inclusion in a festival focused on the environment, sports, mental health or the pandemic. By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 6 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
DESA TIMUN (THE CUCUMBER VILLAGE)
DESA TIMUN (THE CUCUMBER VILLAGE) - DAUD NUGRAHA
Series: PRESCHOOL SHORT, AGES 3-8
Description - Three little mouse deer living happily in Cucumber Village. When the little brother's one and only ball was pecked flat by a chicken, the two sisters must find a way to bring back their little brother's smile. Desa Timun (Cucumber Village) is the first animation film using "aniwayang" technique: traditional art of shadow puppetry made alive with the magic of modern storytelling and digital animation. From Indonesia, by Daud Nugraha
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I like the short film Desa Timun (The Cucumber Village) because it is creative, fun and the animation style is quite unusual, it takes images of shadow puppets and animates them.

The story line shows three little mouse deer, siblings, happily living in Cucumber Village until the little brother's ball is pecked flat by a mean chicken and the two sisters try to find a way to bring back the brother's smile.

I like how we see the two girls are playing together by making drawings of mountains and paddy fields. The images of the girls and their artwork are all made from cut outs like shadow puppets. When their little brother's ball is pecked flat, his tears appear as black or shadow droplets flowing from his head. All of this is a very clever way to animated typical characters and drawings of shadow puppets. And, it makes this artistic style adapt for a younger and international audience, one that may not be familiar with shadow puppetry. Yes, the drawings of the outfits are just right for the setting of the short movie. Additionally, the backgrounds are also made in shadow and go well with the story. The music is key in this short film, as every step of the movie a different song accompanies the children's activities. The key cast members are Tisa Julianti and Aisyah Syairaazahra Hariyadi who voice the children in the film. Their voices are very childlike, which makes their characters believable. The language is in Indonesian, with English subtitles. I applaud Daud Nugraha, who is the producer, director and writer of this short film. My favorite part of the film is when the children are playing with the ball and accidentally hit the chicken and the chicken tries to chase after them. I also really love the song at the end. It's very childlike and sweet.

The message of the film is to be creative and play with your family.

I give Desa Timun (The Cucumber Village) 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, because of the subtitles. If you have a reader at the film festival, then, it would work for younger kids, ages 2 to 8. By Keila V. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like the short film Desa Timun (The Cucumber Village) because it is creative, fun and the animation style is quite unusual, it takes images of shadow puppets and animates them.

The story line shows three little mouse deer, siblings, happily living in Cucumber Village until the little brother's ball is pecked flat by a mean chicken and the two sisters try to find a way to bring back the brother's smile.

I like how we see the two girls are playing together by making drawings of mountains and paddy fields. The images of the girls and their artwork are all made from cut outs like shadow puppets. When their little brother's ball is pecked flat, his tears appear as black or shadow droplets flowing from his head. All of this is a very clever way to animated typical characters and drawings of shadow puppets. And, it makes this artistic style adapt for a younger and international audience, one that may not be familiar with shadow puppetry. Yes, the drawings of the outfits are just right for the setting of the short movie. Additionally, the backgrounds are also made in shadow and go well with the story. The music is key in this short film, as every step of the movie a different song accompanies the children's activities. The key cast members are Tisa Julianti and Aisyah Syairaazahra Hariyadi who voice the children in the film. Their voices are very childlike, which makes their characters believable. The language is in Indonesian, with English subtitles. I applaud Daud Nugraha, who is the producer, director and writer of this short film. My favorite part of the film is when the children are playing with the ball and accidentally hit the chicken and the chicken tries to chase after them. I also really love the song at the end. It's very childlike and sweet.

The message of the film is to be creative and play with your family.

I give Desa Timun (The Cucumber Village) 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, because of the subtitles. If you have a reader at the film festival, then, it would work for younger kids, ages 2 to 8. By Keila V. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 4 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 3-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
LEO DA VINCI
LEO DA VINCI - KRISTINA B. SIMON
Series: FOREIGN SHORT, AGES 5-12
Description - The series revolves around the exciting adventures of 15 year-old Leonardo da Vinci, during the thrilling phase of his life he spent in Florence under the rule of the Medici family. It's a time where there is a great surge in the arts, in finance, and in creativity, and Leo can't help but thrive in this environment. He pursues painting and sculpture at Andrea del Verrocchio's workshop, and in the Maestro's atelier he meets the young painters who will make Renaissance history. The series is based on the award-winning feature film "Leo da Vinci - Mission Mona Lisa" released worldwide in 2018/2019.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This episode of the animated Leo da Vinci series is great for school-aged kids. The concept is very creative and unique. The animation is youthful and detailed.

The story follows Leo da Vinci and his friends who are determined to save their town when a "dragon" threatens to burn down and take over Florence, Italy.

I like how the short film builds on real people and things, but makes them unique and entertaining for kids. However, at some points, the dialogue doesn't feel very natural. The film is completely animated. The animation is exceptional and realistic looking. It's not Disney quality, but it still looks very clean and neat. Some of the costumes suit the storyline, although Lisa's outfit does not since she wears pants and, during the time period that it takes place in (1500s; Italy), women did not wear pants. The backgrounds look as I imagine Italy looked during the Renaissance era. The music stands out as it helps enhance the suspense of the storyline. Some of the characters are loosely based on real people such as Leo da Vinci (Danial Llaca) and Bianca de' Medici (Christina Jopling). The script feels a bit bland as we don't see much character development in this episode. There are other episodes, however, and perhaps the characters develop more in those. Anna Stinfale, character designer and animation advisors stands out to me. I think she made the characters look like they all belong, all while being unique. My favorite part is the ending because it ends light heartedly and gives enough closure for this episode, while making more episodes a possibility.

This film's message is that if there is a will, there is a way, and that if you put your mind to it, any problem can be solved. You should be aware that it shows kids doing risky things that kids might imitate. Leo and his friends fly on gliders and try to fight bad guys who have fire. Young kids may try to replicate Leo and make gliders, which is not safe.

I give Leo da Vinci 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Reviewed by Katherine S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - This episode of the animated Leo da Vinci series is great for school-aged kids. The concept is very creative and unique. The animation is youthful and detailed.

The story follows Leo da Vinci and his friends who are determined to save their town when a "dragon" threatens to burn down and take over Florence, Italy.

I like how the short film builds on real people and things, but makes them unique and entertaining for kids. However, at some points, the dialogue doesn't feel very natural. The film is completely animated. The animation is exceptional and realistic looking. It's not Disney quality, but it still looks very clean and neat. Some of the costumes suit the storyline, although Lisa's outfit does not since she wears pants and, during the time period that it takes place in (1500s; Italy), women did not wear pants. The backgrounds look as I imagine Italy looked during the Renaissance era. The music stands out as it helps enhance the suspense of the storyline. Some of the characters are loosely based on real people such as Leo da Vinci (Danial Llaca) and Bianca de' Medici (Christina Jopling). The script feels a bit bland as we don't see much character development in this episode. There are other episodes, however, and perhaps the characters develop more in those. Anna Stinfale, character designer and animation advisors stands out to me. I think she made the characters look like they all belong, all while being unique. My favorite part is the ending because it ends light heartedly and gives enough closure for this episode, while making more episodes a possibility.

This film's message is that if there is a will, there is a way, and that if you put your mind to it, any problem can be solved. You should be aware that it shows kids doing risky things that kids might imitate. Leo and his friends fly on gliders and try to fight bad guys who have fire. Young kids may try to replicate Leo and make gliders, which is not safe.

I give Leo da Vinci 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Reviewed by Katherine S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 13 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
MINI PET PALS START SCHOOL
MINI PET PALS START SCHOOL - KRISTINA B. SIMON
Series: PRESCHOOL SHORT, AGES 2-5
Description - In this new series, Mini Pet Pals go to school, where they have fun learning about themselves and the world through theatre, music, trips to cities and museums and math games. School is also a chance to make new friends and meet inspiring teachers. From Italy by Sergio Manfio
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Mini Pet Pals Go To School is a sweet, animated show perfectly suited for a preschool audience with its bright colors, cute fantasy characters, clear voices and fun storyline that helps kids know more about musical instruments.

Mini Pet Pals are animated animal characters that go to school and, in this episode, learn about musical instruments and how to make music in the world around them.

Younger children will appreciate seeing all the various musical instruments and hearing their sounds. The animated show also reminds views that it takes practice to play a musical instrument, and you can literally make music with everything - even our bodies.

The animation is very cute with lots of different animal characters. The characters are all animals that kids will recognize - a cat, a dog, a rabbit, a duck, a bird, a fox, plus a pink flamingo, Mr. Sebastian, who is the instructor. Directed by Sergio Manfio, who clearly knows his way around the field of animation, with very capable voice talent (uncredited), this is perfectly suited for preschoolers. My favorite character is Holly, The Tabby Cat, because she is the most energetic at the beginning as she runs around the screen with a blue ribbon.

The message of the story is that practice makes perfect and music is everywhere.

I give Mini Pet Pals Go To School 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5, plus adults. By Kira O. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Mini Pet Pals Go To School is a sweet, animated show perfectly suited for a preschool audience with its bright colors, cute fantasy characters, clear voices and fun storyline that helps kids know more about musical instruments.

Mini Pet Pals are animated animal characters that go to school and, in this episode, learn about musical instruments and how to make music in the world around them.

Younger children will appreciate seeing all the various musical instruments and hearing their sounds. The animated show also reminds views that it takes practice to play a musical instrument, and you can literally make music with everything - even our bodies.

The animation is very cute with lots of different animal characters. The characters are all animals that kids will recognize - a cat, a dog, a rabbit, a duck, a bird, a fox, plus a pink flamingo, Mr. Sebastian, who is the instructor. Directed by Sergio Manfio, who clearly knows his way around the field of animation, with very capable voice talent (uncredited), this is perfectly suited for preschoolers. My favorite character is Holly, The Tabby Cat, because she is the most energetic at the beginning as she runs around the screen with a blue ribbon.

The message of the story is that practice makes perfect and music is everywhere.

I give Mini Pet Pals Go To School 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5, plus adults. By Kira O. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 6 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 2-5 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
BEAUTY
BEAUTY - TONY PAPA
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 12-18
Description - A film about the damage words can have. On this journey we find a mother, and her young daughter struggle with contaminated atmospheres, and learn to break generational abuse. Mary's powerful determination to give a better life than what she was served will be the duos shining light through the darkness.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The story of the student film, Beauty, is a difficult, but important one. It's difficult to like but I appreciate the gentle way the story is told. I hope it will bring clarity or insight to anyone watching it who may have been or is in similar situation.

This story is about a mother, Mary, and her young daughter who live in an abusive home. Mary learns that her mother also suffered from abuse and develops the will to remove her and her daughter from this environment and move to a different future for the two of them.

This is a difficult story to like, but I appreciate that the mother removes her daughter from their home when she is afraid of her father. The story is told in a sensitive and non-frightening manner. The camerawork and lighting are very well executed and enhance the film, directed by Mel Yerna. One thing that sticks out is the drone footage at the end; it is excellent and adds hope to the story. The background music is original music and adds a lot to the film. At times it is difficult to hear some important parts of the dialogue, such as when the mother and daughter are in the truck before they leave the home at end of film. All four actors portray their roles well, but are not credited, except as a group. The daughter is exceptionally good, particularly for her young age. I comment the work of director / writer Macy Bryce whose brilliance comes through in watching these performances. The mother-daughter relationship is very believable. Overall, the acting, the camerawork and music all stand out and are exceptional. My favorite scene is at the beginning when the mother and daughter cuddle together while a music box plays.

The message of this film is that you can change the circumstances you are in and you need to consider and take care of those who depend on you. Be aware that it does contain profanity and alcohol consumption. The profanity includes the "f" word and "God damned." The exhibits of poor adult behavior including alcoholism and abuse are used to make a point but may be particularly disturbing to anyone who has experienced it.

I give Beauty 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Selene W., and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The story of the student film, Beauty, is a difficult, but important one. It's difficult to like but I appreciate the gentle way the story is told. I hope it will bring clarity or insight to anyone watching it who may have been or is in similar situation.

This story is about a mother, Mary, and her young daughter who live in an abusive home. Mary learns that her mother also suffered from abuse and develops the will to remove her and her daughter from this environment and move to a different future for the two of them.

This is a difficult story to like, but I appreciate that the mother removes her daughter from their home when she is afraid of her father. The story is told in a sensitive and non-frightening manner. The camerawork and lighting are very well executed and enhance the film, directed by Mel Yerna. One thing that sticks out is the drone footage at the end; it is excellent and adds hope to the story. The background music is original music and adds a lot to the film. At times it is difficult to hear some important parts of the dialogue, such as when the mother and daughter are in the truck before they leave the home at end of film. All four actors portray their roles well, but are not credited, except as a group. The daughter is exceptionally good, particularly for her young age. I comment the work of director / writer Macy Bryce whose brilliance comes through in watching these performances. The mother-daughter relationship is very believable. Overall, the acting, the camerawork and music all stand out and are exceptional. My favorite scene is at the beginning when the mother and daughter cuddle together while a music box plays.

The message of this film is that you can change the circumstances you are in and you need to consider and take care of those who depend on you. Be aware that it does contain profanity and alcohol consumption. The profanity includes the "f" word and "God damned." The exhibits of poor adult behavior including alcoholism and abuse are used to make a point but may be particularly disturbing to anyone who has experienced it.

I give Beauty 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Selene W., and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 13 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
ETHAN ART VENTURE
ETHAN ART VENTURE - NURIA DIXON
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 5-12
Description - Ethan's Art-Venture is an animated, mixed with live-action, short film about an autistic, illustrator who on his 9th birthday, is given a gift that allows him access to a powerful, imaginative, inner realm: a completely animated world. Every year, Ethan represents the school at the National Art Conference. However, this year there is a new, skillful artist competing who Ethan sees as a threat to his title as "best artist." With determination to prove his artistic abilities, he is armed with only his trusty pencil to help him reclaim his prize.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Ethan Art Venture is a terrific short animated film that teaches an important lesson. Plus, it has amazing graphics and a good story line.

The story is about Ethan, a kid with autism, who has a huge imagination and artistic talent that is tested when he feel threatened by another artist. Ethan has to hunker down to prove his value as an artist, armed with only his trusty pencil.

I like that protagonist is an autistic child. It shows us that autism doesn't keep you from experiencing greatness. I also like the interplay between live action and animation, which is pretty seamless. Ethan's animated character is sort of like his image twin. The animation is amazing, with bright colors; so are the voice overs, which really match the characters. The characters are well defined and really stand out. Each one is very distinctive. Of course, Ethan is the star of the show and my favorite character since he shows us a valuable lesson. The backgrounds also deserve mention as they are very well drawn and appropriate for the storyline, whether in Ethan's home or at school, or an overhead drone life view of the city. The background music and sound effects are terrific, incorporating everything from thunder to hip "moving about" tunes. There are some fun special effects that are created in animation.

The message of the film is that autism is a super power!

I give Ethan Art Venture 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Reviewed by Ethan X. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ethan Art Venture is a terrific short animated film that teaches an important lesson. Plus, it has amazing graphics and a good story line.

The story is about Ethan, a kid with autism, who has a huge imagination and artistic talent that is tested when he feel threatened by another artist. Ethan has to hunker down to prove his value as an artist, armed with only his trusty pencil.

I like that protagonist is an autistic child. It shows us that autism doesn't keep you from experiencing greatness. I also like the interplay between live action and animation, which is pretty seamless. Ethan's animated character is sort of like his image twin. The animation is amazing, with bright colors; so are the voice overs, which really match the characters. The characters are well defined and really stand out. Each one is very distinctive. Of course, Ethan is the star of the show and my favorite character since he shows us a valuable lesson. The backgrounds also deserve mention as they are very well drawn and appropriate for the storyline, whether in Ethan's home or at school, or an overhead drone life view of the city. The background music and sound effects are terrific, incorporating everything from thunder to hip "moving about" tunes. There are some fun special effects that are created in animation.

The message of the film is that autism is a super power!

I give Ethan Art Venture 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Reviewed by Ethan X. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 11 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
SHELF LIFE
SHELF LIFE - THITAPORN XUTO
Series: FOREIGN STUDENT SHORT, AGES 5-18
Description - Bob, a can of milk who dreams of doing what he's made to do, be a delicious glass of milk for people to enjoy, got pushed back to the back of the shelf waiting for his expiration date, alongside with his friend Brian, a can of tomato juice. They waited and talked about what would happened after they expired but no one knows for sure. Brian got picked first so Bob was left alone to explore what awaits him after the expiration date. Will he finally found the meaningful life he dreams of?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Shelf Life is an adorable animated short that shows a different perspective of perishable food items as the simple items on the shelves take on human characteristics. We get a perspective of what it means when your time is running out and, perhaps that applies to a job or a college application.

Bob, a can of milk, has a simple dream to be enjoyed by people. Brian, a can of tomato juice, also has a simple dream - to be part of something. They talk about what might happen after their expiration date passes and how no one knows for sure. Brian is picked, and then Bob is left along to ponder his future, which turns out better than he ever imagined.

This short film truly brought a smile to my face. It's lighthearted and easy to understand. The storyline is thought provoking for kids, especially when the two cans talk with each other of their hope to be useful in some way. The ending is particularly rewarding and positive when Bob ends up being more useful than he either imagined when both the milk he held and his container are utilized. The animation is very well executed; it's simple 2D, but flawless. Both the key characters and the backgrounds are well illustrated, colorful and clear. The original score and sound design by Nutcha Tantiwetchakul works well; I especially enjoyed the music at the end and the classical music that plays under the credits. The voice over artists, Slipstreamer and Downing Will, are well chosen. The subtitles by Thitaporn Xuto are also well made. And, I love that the young filmmaker, Thitaporn Xuto gives a special thanks to Momma Daddy Bruv, which I presume are her parents. Ms. Xuto's work really is excellent and thoughtful. Thank you for creating such an inspiring short film. My favorite part is when Bob The Milk Can's dream comes true when he is used in different ways. That is our reward at the end of the film, that brings out a smile in the viewer.

The message of the film is that there to never give up hope, there are many ways to be useful.

I give Shelf Life 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. By Tom W. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Shelf Life is an adorable animated short that shows a different perspective of perishable food items as the simple items on the shelves take on human characteristics. We get a perspective of what it means when your time is running out and, perhaps that applies to a job or a college application.

Bob, a can of milk, has a simple dream to be enjoyed by people. Brian, a can of tomato juice, also has a simple dream - to be part of something. They talk about what might happen after their expiration date passes and how no one knows for sure. Brian is picked, and then Bob is left along to ponder his future, which turns out better than he ever imagined.

This short film truly brought a smile to my face. It's lighthearted and easy to understand. The storyline is thought provoking for kids, especially when the two cans talk with each other of their hope to be useful in some way. The ending is particularly rewarding and positive when Bob ends up being more useful than he either imagined when both the milk he held and his container are utilized. The animation is very well executed; it's simple 2D, but flawless. Both the key characters and the backgrounds are well illustrated, colorful and clear. The original score and sound design by Nutcha Tantiwetchakul works well; I especially enjoyed the music at the end and the classical music that plays under the credits. The voice over artists, Slipstreamer and Downing Will, are well chosen. The subtitles by Thitaporn Xuto are also well made. And, I love that the young filmmaker, Thitaporn Xuto gives a special thanks to Momma Daddy Bruv, which I presume are her parents. Ms. Xuto's work really is excellent and thoughtful. Thank you for creating such an inspiring short film. My favorite part is when Bob The Milk Can's dream comes true when he is used in different ways. That is our reward at the end of the film, that brings out a smile in the viewer.

The message of the film is that there to never give up hope, there are many ways to be useful.

I give Shelf Life 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. By Tom W. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 7 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
AKESI AND THE SECRETS OF THE FOREST
AKESI AND THE SECRETS OF THE FOREST - POST PRODUTION TALES OF US
Series: FOREIGN SHORT, AGES 8-18
Description - Part I of the trilogy "Akesi and the Congo River", "Akesi and the secrets of the forest" introduces Akesi in his hometown of Brazzaville. Trying to make sense of his brother's death, Akesi is led to the river, where a mystical journey unfolds. Seeing how the tribes celebrate those they've lost allows Akesi to make peace with his grief and enter a new state of understanding the cultures that surround him.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Akesi And The Secrets Of The Forest ensnares viewers' eyes from the get-go, presenting a unique storyline, deep characters and beautiful animation... all with superb educational value.

Part I of the trilogy, Akesi And The Congo River, shows a young Congolese boy, Akesi, struggling to cope with his brother's passing. He goes to the river one day and is transported to the bush, where tribes celebrate those they've lost. Seeing this, Akesi is able to reconcile his grief, and he learns about the world around him.

The information presented about the Congo is detailed and presented in a clear and engaging manner. We learn a lot about the tribes through seeing them go about their celebrations of life, which poses a nice contrast to the more didactic initial scenes. The film is animated in 2D. All scenes are vibrant and transition naturally. The use of color is especially effective during scenes where Zamata teaches viewers about the Congo and shows the busy streets of Brazzaville. The backgrounds are styled like authentic Congolese art -- they're wonderful, vibrant and absolutely suit the story! The background music has been carefully composed and curated to emulate traditional Congolese music and it really adds to the depth of the story. Sasheer Zamata of SNL fame is the presenter; her delivery is clear and effortless. Nadine Ngolo and Ange Da Costa voice Akesi's Lingala lines -- Zamata takes care of the English portions. Ngolo and Da Costa's audio is beautiful (I love the language; it's the first time I'm hearing it in a show!), but the voiceover is, at times, jarring. Subtitles are not used as effectively as they could be and volume levels shift at times. Curt Fortin's writing is absolutely stellar! I love how the information is spread throughout the episode and includes bits of Lingala.

I love Sasheer Zamata's "hosting" in this film! It helps guide the story a lot.

The message is that it's important for us to celebrate those who leave us and celebrate their lives.

I give Akesi And The Secrets Of The Forest 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Akesi And The Secrets Of The Forest ensnares viewers' eyes from the get-go, presenting a unique storyline, deep characters and beautiful animation... all with superb educational value.

Part I of the trilogy, Akesi And The Congo River, shows a young Congolese boy, Akesi, struggling to cope with his brother's passing. He goes to the river one day and is transported to the bush, where tribes celebrate those they've lost. Seeing this, Akesi is able to reconcile his grief, and he learns about the world around him.

The information presented about the Congo is detailed and presented in a clear and engaging manner. We learn a lot about the tribes through seeing them go about their celebrations of life, which poses a nice contrast to the more didactic initial scenes. The film is animated in 2D. All scenes are vibrant and transition naturally. The use of color is especially effective during scenes where Zamata teaches viewers about the Congo and shows the busy streets of Brazzaville. The backgrounds are styled like authentic Congolese art -- they're wonderful, vibrant and absolutely suit the story! The background music has been carefully composed and curated to emulate traditional Congolese music and it really adds to the depth of the story. Sasheer Zamata of SNL fame is the presenter; her delivery is clear and effortless. Nadine Ngolo and Ange Da Costa voice Akesi's Lingala lines -- Zamata takes care of the English portions. Ngolo and Da Costa's audio is beautiful (I love the language; it's the first time I'm hearing it in a show!), but the voiceover is, at times, jarring. Subtitles are not used as effectively as they could be and volume levels shift at times. Curt Fortin's writing is absolutely stellar! I love how the information is spread throughout the episode and includes bits of Lingala.

I love Sasheer Zamata's "hosting" in this film! It helps guide the story a lot.

The message is that it's important for us to celebrate those who leave us and celebrate their lives.

I give Akesi And The Secrets Of The Forest 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 14 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
AKESI AND THE LOSS OF THE BATEKE KINGDOM
AKESI AND THE LOSS OF THE BATEKE KINGDOM - POST PRODUTION TALES OF US
Series: FOREIGN SHORT, AGES 8-12
Description - Part II of the "Akesi and the Congo River" series, Akesi and the Loss of the Bateke Kingdom explores the history of Congo and the deception that led to its occupation by French and Belgium colonizers. Akesi watches from afar as history unfolds, unable to influence change with his modern knowledge.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Akesi And The Loss Of The Bateke Kingdom is a beautifully-crafted educational short film with crisp and clean animation and a well-written story. It's sure to capture the attention of young viewers!

This is part II of the Akesi And The Congo River series when a young Congolese boy named Akesi is transported to the 19th century and he witnesses firsthand the deception that led to the Congolese occupation by the French and Belgians. Akesi watches helpless as history unfolds, and he learns to be careful when vesting trust in others.

The information presented about the Congo and the Bateke Kingdom is detailed and presented in a clear and engaging manner. I didn't know much about the Bateke or the Congo before watching this short film, and I must admit that viewing this film cued a Wikipedia deep dive that educated me further. For history buffs, this is a superb film. The film is animated in 2D -- all the scenes are vibrant and transition naturally. The use of color is especially effective during scenes in the marketplace. The backgrounds are styled like authentic Congolese art. They're wonderful, vibrant, and absolutely suit the story! The background music has been carefully composed and curated to emulate traditional Congolese music, and it really adds to the depth of the story. Sasheer Zamata of SNL fame is the presenter; her delivery is clear and effortless. Nadine Ngolo and Ange Da Costa voice Akesi's Lingala lines -- Zamata takes care of the English portions. Ngolo and Da Costa's audio is beautiful (I love the language; it's the first time I'm hearing it in a show!) but the voiceover is at times jarring. Subtitles are not used as effectively as they could be and volume levels shifts at times. Curt Fortin's writing is absolutely stellar! I love how information is spread throughout the episode and includes bits of Lingala. I also love learning about the Bateke Kingdom (it was well-researched and factual), since we don't learn anything about it in U.S. schools.

The message is: we must be prudent about who to trust.

I give Akesi And The Loss Of The Bateke Kingdom 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend kit for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Akesi And The Loss Of The Bateke Kingdom is a beautifully-crafted educational short film with crisp and clean animation and a well-written story. It's sure to capture the attention of young viewers!

This is part II of the Akesi And The Congo River series when a young Congolese boy named Akesi is transported to the 19th century and he witnesses firsthand the deception that led to the Congolese occupation by the French and Belgians. Akesi watches helpless as history unfolds, and he learns to be careful when vesting trust in others.

The information presented about the Congo and the Bateke Kingdom is detailed and presented in a clear and engaging manner. I didn't know much about the Bateke or the Congo before watching this short film, and I must admit that viewing this film cued a Wikipedia deep dive that educated me further. For history buffs, this is a superb film. The film is animated in 2D -- all the scenes are vibrant and transition naturally. The use of color is especially effective during scenes in the marketplace. The backgrounds are styled like authentic Congolese art. They're wonderful, vibrant, and absolutely suit the story! The background music has been carefully composed and curated to emulate traditional Congolese music, and it really adds to the depth of the story. Sasheer Zamata of SNL fame is the presenter; her delivery is clear and effortless. Nadine Ngolo and Ange Da Costa voice Akesi's Lingala lines -- Zamata takes care of the English portions. Ngolo and Da Costa's audio is beautiful (I love the language; it's the first time I'm hearing it in a show!) but the voiceover is at times jarring. Subtitles are not used as effectively as they could be and volume levels shifts at times. Curt Fortin's writing is absolutely stellar! I love how information is spread throughout the episode and includes bits of Lingala. I also love learning about the Bateke Kingdom (it was well-researched and factual), since we don't learn anything about it in U.S. schools.

The message is: we must be prudent about who to trust.

I give Akesi And The Loss Of The Bateke Kingdom 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend kit for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 14 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
AKESI AND THE FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE
AKESI AND THE FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE - POST PRODUTION TALES OF US
Series: FOREIGN SHORT, AGES 8-18
Description - Part III of "Akesi and the Congo River", "Akesi and the Fight for Independence" is the final installation of this series. Rounding off his life lessons with one of hope and strength, Akesi learns about Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo, and how his resilience led to the independence of his homeland in 1960.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - While I like the watercolor animation techniques, the storyline of Akesi And The Fight For Independence jumps around quite a bit and I was often confused about what was going on. IN some ways, it is hard to follow and feels a bit disjointed. The message is important - work together and we learn a lot about the history of the two Congos of Africa.

Part documentary, part fiction - this short film addresses the history of the two African Congos as they achieve their own independence. The narrator, Sasheer Zamata, leads us through the history, while sharing the story of a fictional eight-year-old who's able to time travel and experience the independence. This short is Part III of a series, and hence that may be why it's a bit confusing at times.

I like the content; history can be boring but the filmmaker spiced it up with this presentation. The weakness is in the presentation which jumps between fiction and nonfiction too quickly. The host, Sasheer Zamata, stands in front of a green screen for her presentation, with some archival images popping up behind her at times. Sasheer Zamata was a cast member on Saturday Night Live, so she is recognizable to many. The animation is simple 2D, but colorful and has the texture of a watercolor painting. I love the colors used. There is one scene on a boat where the sky is an interesting spiral pattern, which is reflected in the water and is gorgeous. The celebratory scenes are full of life and color. There is a good distinction between the past and present as well. The background music is appropriate; it feels typical of the regions the film discusses and suits the emotions of the various scenes. The main character is Akesi, the eight-year-old who time travels. His character develops throughout the film and shows his strength. He starts out unclear of how to confront bullies and ends up beating them at their own game. There is one technical error, around 8 minutes, when two audio tracks play simultaneously. This needs to be fixed prior to exhibition. I applaud the music director as there are some great beats! My favorite part of the film is the boat scene early on; it's very visually appealing.

The message of the film is that the way to win is by working together.

I give Akesi And The Fight For Independence 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Rupeshi S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - While I like the watercolor animation techniques, the storyline of Akesi And The Fight For Independence jumps around quite a bit and I was often confused about what was going on. IN some ways, it is hard to follow and feels a bit disjointed. The message is important - work together and we learn a lot about the history of the two Congos of Africa.

Part documentary, part fiction - this short film addresses the history of the two African Congos as they achieve their own independence. The narrator, Sasheer Zamata, leads us through the history, while sharing the story of a fictional eight-year-old who's able to time travel and experience the independence. This short is Part III of a series, and hence that may be why it's a bit confusing at times.

I like the content; history can be boring but the filmmaker spiced it up with this presentation. The weakness is in the presentation which jumps between fiction and nonfiction too quickly. The host, Sasheer Zamata, stands in front of a green screen for her presentation, with some archival images popping up behind her at times. Sasheer Zamata was a cast member on Saturday Night Live, so she is recognizable to many. The animation is simple 2D, but colorful and has the texture of a watercolor painting. I love the colors used. There is one scene on a boat where the sky is an interesting spiral pattern, which is reflected in the water and is gorgeous. The celebratory scenes are full of life and color. There is a good distinction between the past and present as well. The background music is appropriate; it feels typical of the regions the film discusses and suits the emotions of the various scenes. The main character is Akesi, the eight-year-old who time travels. His character develops throughout the film and shows his strength. He starts out unclear of how to confront bullies and ends up beating them at their own game. There is one technical error, around 8 minutes, when two audio tracks play simultaneously. This needs to be fixed prior to exhibition. I applaud the music director as there are some great beats! My favorite part of the film is the boat scene early on; it's very visually appealing.

The message of the film is that the way to win is by working together.

I give Akesi And The Fight For Independence 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Rupeshi S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 15 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
TRUTH ABOUT KINDERGARTEN, THE
TRUTH ABOUT KINDERGARTEN, THE - CARIN GALLETTA OLIVER
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 8 TO 12
Description - You think kindergarten is all sunshine and rainbows? Think again. This is the story of Big Buddy Alice assigned to 'help' middle-class Marley integrate into a super affluent Marin County private school. These kids? They take the kind out of kindergarten. Made by 10-year-old Thalia Oliver.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I like the idea of The Truth About Kindergarten, but found the story a bit too dark to be enjoyed by everyone.

The story is about a kindergarten girl who is new to an elite school and is assisted by her big buddy who teaches her how to navigate the politics of a classroom full of over-privileged and sometimes vicious kids. The question is: will she make it past lunch?

I like that the "big buddy" gives the new kindergartener the hard truth, even though it seems over the top. However, this film, made by a 10-year-old whose outlook on over privileged kids, is pretty glum. The cinematography is pretty good, with good lighting and audio. For that I commend her. The choice of location is perfect. The camera work is quite good; I especially like the use of close-ups which are perfectly timed for the most dramatic effects. I like how the wardrobe stereotypically defines each character, especially the very affluent girl in a Chanel-like outfit with a chic bag to match. The interiors of the classroom are fitting, but perhaps not that of a kindergarten class. I like how the background music moves the scenes along, while remaining subtle and not overpowering. Also, it is well used to build up suspense. The acting is all quite good. Alice (Thalia Anne Oliver) is quite believable as an upper-level student, maybe sixth grade. However, she states she has been at the school for five years, since preschool, which would make her a third grader, which is closer to the grade-level of the other characters. This makes it hard to believe the story is really about the truth about kindergarten; maybe it's more accurately the truth about grade school. The scenes move in a very realistic manner and the direction really is quite good. The scene with the three girls talking about of their haircuts has great acting, but seems a bit too pretentious. In some ways it's kind of cringy. The story lacks humor to offset the extreme stereotypical characters.

The message is that kindergarten at elite schools is not all sunshine and rainbows. Note that it does promote negative behavior, as no one is reprimanded for their poor behavior and it shows kids doing risky things that kids might imitate - the characters are vicious and snotty. One of them plays with a lighter.

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Reviewed by Madeleine H. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - like the idea of The Truth About Kindergarten, but found the story a bit too dark to be enjoyed by everyone.

The story is about a kindergarten girl who is new to an elite school and is assisted by her big buddy who teaches her how to navigate the politics of a classroom full of over-privileged and sometimes vicious kids. The question is: will she make it past lunch?

I like that the "big buddy" gives the new kindergartener the hard truth, even though it seems over the top. However, this film, made by a 10-year-old whose outlook on over privileged kids, is pretty glum. The cinematography is pretty good, with good lighting and audio. For that I commend her. The choice of location is perfect. The camera work is quite good; I especially like the use of close-ups which are perfectly timed for the most dramatic effects. I like how the wardrobe stereotypically defines each character, especially the very affluent girl in a Chanel-like outfit with a chic bag to match. The interiors of the classroom are fitting, but perhaps not that of a kindergarten class. I like how the background music moves the scenes along, while remaining subtle and not overpowering. Also, it is well used to build up suspense. The acting is all quite good. Alice (Thalia Anne Oliver) is quite believable as an upper-level student, maybe sixth grade. However, she states she has been at the school for five years, since preschool, which would make her a third grader, which is closer to the grade-level of the other characters. This makes it hard to believe the story is really about the truth about kindergarten; maybe it's more accurately the truth about grade school. The scenes move in a very realistic manner and the direction really is quite good. The scene with the three girls talking about of their haircuts has great acting, but seems a bit too pretentious. In some ways it's kind of cringy. The story lacks humor to offset the extreme stereotypical characters.

The message is that kindergarten at elite schools is not all sunshine and rainbows. Note that it does promote negative behavior, as no one is reprimanded for their poor behavior and it shows kids doing risky things that kids might imitate - the characters are vicious and snotty. One of them plays with a lighter.

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Reviewed by Madeleine H. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 6 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
MIDAS
MIDAS - BENJAMIN MEYER
Series: STUDENT SHORT, AGES 5-12
Description - A fresh and hilarious take on the old Greek tale of King Midas. The story follows the King, as his daughter, Marigold, desperately attempts to get him to see past his boundless greed -- until Dionysus makes his godly entrance, bestowing upon the old king the ability to turn anything he touches to gold, and to chase his greed evermore.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I love the humor, animation and storyline of the short student film, Midas. It made me smile from start to finish.

The storyline is a twist on the class Midas story about the tragedy of avarice and greed. Here, the greedy King Midas (Ben Meyer) is unsuccessfully convinced by his daughter, Marigold, to be less greedy when the God Dionysus (Ian Worthington) enters to grant him a wish. This leads King Midas to become even more greedy when he has the ability to turn whatever he touches into gold.

This film is brilliantly animated with great music and a familiar story with a golden twist. The story definitely held my interest as Marigold tries to influence her father to be a better king. Even after Dionysus grants him his wish though, Midas remains as selfish as ever until the end. The animation is superb. I like the way they change the characters from the stop-action look of the figurines at the beginning to wonderful 3D transformations. Plus, they have great expressions and movement. The use of stop action animation to start the film is fun and makes it feel as if someone is playing with the figurines. When they transform into 3D characters, their characters are enhanced. The scene at the end, in Marigold's room, is memorable. The colors and backgrounds are all so brilliant and sparkly. I especially like how the throne room sparkles with gold and treasures. The background music moves the story along and creates moment of drama and excitement. This is such a fun take on the classic Greek fable with excellent animation and production quality. It is fun to watch. I love the blissful romp King Midas made throughout his castle as he turns everything he touches to gold. It is accompanied by the most perfect music.

The message of the film is: Be careful what you wish for!

I give Midas 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Reviewed by Madeleine H. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the humor, animation and storyline of the short student film, Midas. It made me smile from start to finish.

The storyline is a twist on the class Midas story about the tragedy of avarice and greed. Here, the greedy King Midas (Ben Meyer) is unsuccessfully convinced by his daughter, Marigold, to be less greedy when the God Dionysus (Ian Worthington) enters to grant him a wish. This leads King Midas to become even more greedy when he has the ability to turn whatever he touches into gold.

This film is brilliantly animated with great music and a familiar story with a golden twist. The story definitely held my interest as Marigold tries to influence her father to be a better king. Even after Dionysus grants him his wish though, Midas remains as selfish as ever until the end. The animation is superb. I like the way they change the characters from the stop-action look of the figurines at the beginning to wonderful 3D transformations. Plus, they have great expressions and movement. The use of stop action animation to start the film is fun and makes it feel as if someone is playing with the figurines. When they transform into 3D characters, their characters are enhanced. The scene at the end, in Marigold's room, is memorable. The colors and backgrounds are all so brilliant and sparkly. I especially like how the throne room sparkles with gold and treasures. The background music moves the story along and creates moment of drama and excitement. This is such a fun take on the classic Greek fable with excellent animation and production quality. It is fun to watch. I love the blissful romp King Midas made throughout his castle as he turns everything he touches to gold. It is accompanied by the most perfect music.

The message of the film is: Be careful what you wish for!

I give Midas 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Reviewed by Madeleine H. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 4 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
LEFTOVERS
LEFTOVERS - STEVE BEAUREGARD
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 5-12
Description - When two young siblings tire of their mom's cooking, they're forced to take matters into their own hands, only to discover preparing a home-cooked meal is hard - and an edible one even harder.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I like the short film, Leftovers, because it is funny and, at the same time, teaches a great lesson.

The story follows two siblings who are tired of their mom's cooking and want something other than leftovers for dinner so they try to make dinner by themselves. In the end, it did not turn out great and they discovered how challenging it is to prepare a meal.

I like that in the beginning the children want something different, but in the end they accept it. The camera work is quite good and does some clever things such as starting out with a black screen, only to discover that the camera is inside the refrigerator. The sets are typical of middle American families and easy for audiences to relate to. I love when the mom gives the kids permission to cook their own meal and all of a sudden the boy is reading a cookbook upside down, declaring, let's make an upside down cake. The background music for that scene is perfect. The storyline drives this film, and the lesson that the two siblings learn - cooking is not that easy. Director/writer Steve Beauregard makes this whole idea real, funny, entertaining and thought-provoking. My favorite dialogue is when the dad does not like the food and says, "Here boy, come here, come here!"; the girl says, "Dad, what are you doing?"; the dad says "giving some of this to the dog"; the boy says, "But, we don't have a dog?" That is definitely giggle-worthy. The actors all give credible performances; the siblings relate to each other well, probably because at least three of them are related in real life. Mom is played by Marie Beauregard; the boy by Ben Beauregard, the girl by Madi McQuade and the dad by Steve Beauregard, who is also the director and writer. The mom feels just like a mom. I especially when she goes outside to side while letting the kids take over the kitchen. Brilliant! We all know that it is not easy being a mother; and letting kids discover how difficult something is on their own, without interfering, is a talent. The reaction around the dinner table is a bit overly dramatic, but it makes a point. And, in the end, attitudes change. I'm confused why Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Taylor's Swift's names come up in the credits, along with "are not in this film." That may be problematic.

I give Leftovers 4 out of 5 stars and recommend ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It has a great message and is funny. By Keila V. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like the short film, Leftovers, because it is funny and, at the same time, teaches a great lesson.

The story follows two siblings who are tired of their mom's cooking and want something other than leftovers for dinner so they try to make dinner by themselves. In the end, it did not turn out great and they discovered how challenging it is to prepare a meal.

I like that in the beginning the children want something different, but in the end they accept it. The camera work is quite good and does some clever things such as starting out with a black screen, only to discover that the camera is inside the refrigerator. The sets are typical of middle American families and easy for audiences to relate to. I love when the mom gives the kids permission to cook their own meal and all of a sudden the boy is reading a cookbook upside down, declaring, let's make an upside down cake. The background music for that scene is perfect. The storyline drives this film, and the lesson that the two siblings learn - cooking is not that easy. Director/writer Steve Beauregard makes this whole idea real, funny, entertaining and thought-provoking. My favorite dialogue is when the dad does not like the food and says, "Here boy, come here, come here!"; the girl says, "Dad, what are you doing?"; the dad says "giving some of this to the dog"; the boy says, "But, we don't have a dog?" That is definitely giggle-worthy. The actors all give credible performances; the siblings relate to each other well, probably because at least three of them are related in real life. Mom is played by Marie Beauregard; the boy by Ben Beauregard, the girl by Madi McQuade and the dad by Steve Beauregard, who is also the director and writer. The mom feels just like a mom. I especially when she goes outside to side while letting the kids take over the kitchen. Brilliant! We all know that it is not easy being a mother; and letting kids discover how difficult something is on their own, without interfering, is a talent. The reaction around the dinner table is a bit overly dramatic, but it makes a point. And, in the end, attitudes change. I'm confused why Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Taylor's Swift's names come up in the credits, along with "are not in this film." That may be problematic.

I give Leftovers 4 out of 5 stars and recommend ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It has a great message and is funny. By Keila V. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 13 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
JORDAN
JORDAN - EBONY BLANDING
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 8-12
Description - When a tween mermaid enthusiast discovers an ailing water creature, she uses a magical wish to change the fate of their existence...and her own. JORDAN engages the genre of fantasy and cli-fi (climate fiction) to shape a fairytale where everyone has agency and representation.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Jordan is quite a different story from any other I've ever seen. It has a very diverse range of topics that are talked about.

The storyline follows a tween mermaid enthusiast show discovers an ailing water creature, a siren that gets washed up and found by a few humans that help the siren in her quest to become human.

Excellent short independent film directed by Ebony Blanding. The story line is quite interesting -- I like how a mythological creature is played together with real people and other real things and environment. The acting is quite on target, especially Bissette Williams who plays Jordan. The costuming is suitable for contemporary times. One thing that strikes me as very unrealistic is the siren's extensive eye make-up, complete with really long false eyelashes. That takes away from her validity. The camera work is pretty solid. There are times when the lighting is a bit lacking, especially in the interior shots. The costuming is suitable to the storyline. One thing that really stands out is the mermaid's tail; it looks so impressive and realistic. The background music is used pretty judiciously. What sticks out to me is the creepy music at one part that definitely suits the intense scene. The scene when the lights start flashing, intense music starts playing and blue water comes out of the faucet is certainly my favorite moment; it's a blend of sci-fi and fantasy. The ending is my favorite part as it leaves you wondering.

The message is you can be anything you put your mind to.

I give Jordan 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Avalon N. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Jordan is quite a different story from any other I've ever seen. It has a very diverse range of topics that are talked about.

The storyline follows a tween mermaid enthusiast show discovers an ailing water creature, a siren that gets washed up and found by a few humans that help the siren in her quest to become human.

Excellent short independent film directed by Ebony Blanding. The story line is quite interesting -- I like how a mythological creature is played together with real people and other real things and environment. The acting is quite on target, especially Bissette Williams who plays Jordan. The costuming is suitable for contemporary times. One thing that strikes me as very unrealistic is the siren's extensive eye make-up, complete with really long false eyelashes. That takes away from her validity. The camera work is pretty solid. There are times when the lighting is a bit lacking, especially in the interior shots. The costuming is suitable to the storyline. One thing that really stands out is the mermaid's tail; it looks so impressive and realistic. The background music is used pretty judiciously. What sticks out to me is the creepy music at one part that definitely suits the intense scene. The scene when the lights start flashing, intense music starts playing and blue water comes out of the faucet is certainly my favorite moment; it's a blend of sci-fi and fantasy. The ending is my favorite part as it leaves you wondering.

The message is you can be anything you put your mind to.

I give Jordan 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Avalon N. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 20 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
LOST AND FOUND (2022)
LOST AND FOUND (2022) - MINA SON
Series: PRESCHOOL SHORT, AGES 2-8
Description - One day while a princess and her horse were out for a walk, they meet a friend. The princess and the friend get so involved with their day, they don't notice that the horse is no longer with them. This story is about the people they encounter and the adventures involved in finding the horse.

Lost and Found is a stop motion animation short film created by the Star Room preschool class of Growing Place. What started as a storytelling exercise blossomed into a year long production in which the children created storyboards, sewed puppets, made their own props and backgrounds, and composed their own music.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - First of all, this is such an impressive piece of work created by preschoolers! Kudos to the team at Growing Place for making this happen. I love this short animated film, Lost and Found, because its message is about loving being around family.

The story follows Princess Hazel who goes on a walk with the horse Magic Crystal and they meet a friend. The princess and her friend get so involved with different adventures that they fail to notice the horse is no longer with them. The rest of the story is about the adventures they have as they try to find the horse.

What an interesting storyline this has. I love the look of the animation; the characters appear to be made of fabric or paper scraps decorated with sparkly things. I love how they experience a bit adventure, going to the ocean, a Ferris wheel and even a dog house. We see under water critters at the ocean.

The images are quite beautiful and extremely colorful. At times you can see a hand on the screen, but it's not disruptive enough to be a bit issue. I love all the images of castles, the forest and the sky - to name a few. The costuming is terrific and clever, especially the princess dress which is very shiny and bright. The big drawback is the narration, which is done by the four and five-year-olds that created this. At times it's difficult to understand their words. The film is a stop motion animated film created 20 students of the Star Room preschool class of Growing Place. The students created the storyboards, sewed puppets, made their own props and backgrounds and composed their own music. That alone is so remarkable, and the final film is really a joy to behold.

My favorite part is when they all sing Happy Birthday to Magic Crystal.

The film's message is to have fun like there is no tomorrow.

I give Lost and Found 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. This is an extraordinary film made by very young students. By Keila V. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - First of all, this is such an impressive piece of work created by preschoolers! Kudos to the team at Growing Place for making this happen. I love this short animated film, Lost and Found, because its message is about loving being around family.

The story follows Princess Hazel who goes on a walk with the horse Magic Crystal and they meet a friend. The princess and her friend get so involved with different adventures that they fail to notice the horse is no longer with them. The rest of the story is about the adventures they have as they try to find the horse.

What an interesting storyline this has. I love the look of the animation; the characters appear to be made of fabric or paper scraps decorated with sparkly things. I love how they experience a bit adventure, going to the ocean, a Ferris wheel and even a dog house. We see under water critters at the ocean.

The images are quite beautiful and extremely colorful. At times you can see a hand on the screen, but it's not disruptive enough to be a bit issue. I love all the images of castles, the forest and the sky - to name a few. The costuming is terrific and clever, especially the princess dress which is very shiny and bright. The big drawback is the narration, which is done by the four and five-year-olds that created this. At times it's difficult to understand their words. The film is a stop motion animated film created 20 students of the Star Room preschool class of Growing Place. The students created the storyboards, sewed puppets, made their own props and backgrounds and composed their own music. That alone is so remarkable, and the final film is really a joy to behold.

My favorite part is when they all sing Happy Birthday to Magic Crystal.

The film's message is to have fun like there is no tomorrow.

I give Lost and Found 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. This is an extraordinary film made by very young students. By Keila V. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 13 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 2-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
ADVENTURES WITH THE CARETAKER
ADVENTURES WITH THE CARETAKER - PETER GARDNER
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 8-12
Description - A man has a secret job taking care of creatures like Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, and The Abominable Snowman.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The animated short film, Adventures With The Caretaker is definitely unusual and very interesting. It has a slow start, but around the middle it takes off and becomes much more exciting. I love the animation style and the storyline.

The story is about an old man, Uncle Charlie (Tim Hodgin) who is secretly a caretaker of fantastical creatures such as Bigfoot, the Lock Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman. He takes two young children, a boy (Isaa Robinson-Smith) and a girl (Amber Aviles), along with him on a fantasy adventure.

This storyline is very creative. I love the concept and am glad they brought it to life with the great animation and terrific voice acting. The animation is wonderful. The characters are well developed visually in a cartoon style. The bright colors really make everything stand out. I love the scene in the grandpa's kitchen, the kitchen it is so detailed and I love how they animated the food. My hat's off to Peter Gardner, the writer and director, for creating a fun and imaginative show. Midway through the film, the old man's truck takes flight and everyone ends up in a place where fantasy creatures become real. I like how the creatures relate to the humans, who have treated them with kindness and respect, especially the caretaker who obviously has created a bond with them. The voice-over talent is excellent and well recorded. The background music and sound effects are spot on, especially the ending song.

The messages are: don't judge a book by its cover; be kind to all beings; the world is full of adventures; something's right around the corner.

I give Adventures With The Caretaker 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. By Kendall B. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The animated short film, Adventures With The Caretaker is definitely unusual and very interesting. It has a slow start, but around the middle it takes off and becomes much more exciting. I love the animation style and the storyline.

The story is about an old man, Uncle Charlie (Tim Hodgin) who is secretly a caretaker of fantastical creatures such as Bigfoot, the Lock Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman. He takes two young children, a boy (Isaa Robinson-Smith) and a girl (Amber Aviles), along with him on a fantasy adventure.

This storyline is very creative. I love the concept and am glad they brought it to life with the great animation and terrific voice acting. The animation is wonderful. The characters are well developed visually in a cartoon style. The bright colors really make everything stand out. I love the scene in the grandpa's kitchen, the kitchen it is so detailed and I love how they animated the food. My hat's off to Peter Gardner, the writer and director, for creating a fun and imaginative show. Midway through the film, the old man's truck takes flight and everyone ends up in a place where fantasy creatures become real. I like how the creatures relate to the humans, who have treated them with kindness and respect, especially the caretaker who obviously has created a bond with them. The voice-over talent is excellent and well recorded. The background music and sound effects are spot on, especially the ending song.

The messages are: don't judge a book by its cover; be kind to all beings; the world is full of adventures; something's right around the corner.

I give Adventures With The Caretaker 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. By Kendall B. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Runtime: 25 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO



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