Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for November, 2014

Laughter at the Movies by Keefer Blakeslee

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

MelBrooks_1.jpgComedy is by far the most difficult form of entertainment. Other film genres are not easy to successfully pull off either, but what makes comedy difficult and serious work is that you don’t know what is funny to your audience. Full fledged comedies, satires and parodies in film are not what they were in the days of Mel Brooks or The Three Stooges . So the questions I would like to ask is, “What makes a film funny?”

First of all, let’s look at some history. Like many things, comedy evolves. In film it started with the silent era which focused on slapstick and optical jokes. The master and legend of this era was, of course, Charlie Chaplin. As the years went on, films began using synchronized dialogue sequences and by 1927 Jazz Singer came out. This created “talkie” films. Stars such as The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello and especially, Charlie Chaplin starred in these films. Now, with dialogue on their side, the Golden Age of Comedy began. Cut to 1968 when a satire film by Mel Brooks, The Producers came out and introduced dark and vulgar humor. Around the 1980s, the Zucker brothers and Harold Ramis entered the comedy film field with their films Airplane and Ghostbusters. In the 90s came comedies starring stand-up comedians such as Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and many more – each with his or her own unique style of humor. In the early 2000s, the film Scary Movie came out, geared for adults, with gross humor and it became a big box office success.

To me there are three main components to humor. First, it’s the unexpected; it’s when you think you know what is going to happen but the complete opposite occurs. For example, in Young Frankenstein we expect to see a terrifying monster pillaging a town . Instead we see the monster singing and dancing to Putting on the Ritz. Next, timing. For example, in The Lego Movie the main character, Emmett is getting ready for a new day. The pacing of his everyday routine makes for a comedic payoff like when he does jumping jacks and can’t bend his arms. Last, but not least, there is tragedy. I know it’s ironic that the genre that is supposed to make you laugh revolves around the sadness of life. Look at it this way, what makes you laugh when you see someone in a movie slip on a banana peel? The reaction of the person in pain. Now, if that person falls and just gets back up, that is not as funny. A movie that shows this is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The comedy comes from the family literally trying to survive the worst day ever. That is what comedy essentially does and that is one of the reasons it is a difficult art to master. What’s difficult is being able to look at the misfortunes in life and generate laughter with it.Keefer.2014.5.jpg

Film comedies have a more unique atmosphere than other genres. When you go to a movie theater, usually people are quiet so that they can watch and enjoy the film. Have you ever noticed that comedies break that rule? They give you permission to laugh out load and break the silence inside the theater. Comedies create an atmosphere that feels like nothing else. However, when it’s all said and done, you are not going to make everyone laugh. No matter what you do, you’re still going to have that one person in the audience who won’t laugh because he/she does not think it is funny. It’s all opinion and that goes with anything. That’s why I love comedy so much because it’s not easy, but the satisfaction of making someone genuinely laugh is worth the try.

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Who is Gerry Orz, by Briana Dincher

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Gerry.O_1.jpgRecently I had the chance to interview Gerry Orz, a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic who has been with the organization for almost two years and has done over 100 reviews. Read on for the full exclusive interview to find out more about the young critic and film-maker who has big plans in the film industry for the future!

Why did you decide to join the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics?

I had a short film made called Days of Silence and another film called Words of Bully. Pretty much I kept submitting it to the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival and somebody, I am pretty sure it was Ranny who emailed me and said “Hey, do you know about the KIDS FIRST! Film Critic program?” We checked it out and thought it would be a good fit – we were a little bit unsure about it. Now that I did it, I am very happy, and I am almost a year & a half being a film critic and loving it.

You’ve been a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic for one and a half years?

Yes, I started two years ago in February.

Very cool! What is the best thing about being a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic?

I was about to say getting all those free movies, but that is definitely not it. I think honestly the best part is either doing the radio show or reviewing the films. The radio shows are fun – you get to talk with your fellow KIDS FIRST! Film Critics and you just get to have fun discussing your opinion about the films. Honestly what is the best thing about Ranny is that she doesn’t constrict what you do. If you do something completely insane, she’ll say “that’s fine, you’ll just have to keep doing it from now on” – which is something I love about Ranny. It is so much fun getting in front of the camera and saying whatever you want about the film. Sometimes, yes, you have to say specific things but usually it’s just really fun. After the first 40 times, or the first 20 times, it’s just bam bam bam!

You have obviously met a lot of famous actors and people in the business. Who are some of the notable people you were most excited to meet?

I’m not going to pick favorites because that is just going to be mean. I have to say that everybody I meet is wonderful. I know that I have made some pretty good connections with a lot of people. I know I made a good connection with Rachel Crow who is a musician and one of the voices on Rio 2. I also made a pretty good connection with Morgan Freeman – he is very nice. I’m not picking any favorites and I think everybody I have interviewed is equally awesome. I remember them pretty nicely.

A couple of weeks ago you received an award for your 100th movie review. I am sure that was really exciting! Were you surprised? What was your reaction?

Here is the thing; actually, I’ve been counting my reviews and was wondering when I would get 100. It isn’t because I wanted to get a 100, but I was just curious in my spare time. Last time I counted I had 80 which was about 2 weeks before that. When Ranny got up there and said “Gerry has done his 100th review”, it was unbelievable. It just felt amazing and I didn’t know what to feel honestly. I could not believe that I had done 100 reviews, which is about 300 minutes. That is twice as long as a feature film of reviews on movies. I could not believe it.

Have you done any previous work associated with film before joining the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics?

I have a done a lot of work with film before joining the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics. I found out about KIDS FIRST! when I made my first film. Actually, when Ranny gave me the award for 100th review it was during the premiere of my first feature film The Equation of Life. That was very nice. If you want to see the movie, it is available now on Amazon.

The short film expanded into a feature film, The Equation of Life. The movie was released on October 12th. What inspired you to produce this film?

In 3rd grade, I got bullied myself because I was very open. I went to kids and pretty much said, “Hi, my name is Gerry. I have two moms, and one of them is Jewish and not from America – be my friend.” Kids had a lot to bully me about and ironically, before that I had never experienced bullying. I never knew what it was; they never taught me. This film is an educational tool for schools, kids and parents everywhere pretty much saying that this is what bullying is. This is what really is happening. This is why it’s important. It’s not just some joke that teachers want to put on kids. It’s really going on in the world. That is what this film is about. It’s not just looking at the very common victim’s perspective – it’s looking at the bully’s perspective. Why is he bullying? Why is he torturing this kid? What caused him to do that? What happens to him after that? How does he feel? What happens to the bystander, the person who knows what is going on but doesn’t tell for different reasons. What happens to him/her after a year? Two years? Twenty years?

Bullying is obviously a serious issue that is currently present among children and teens, especially virtual bullying. How do you think your film influences others?

I know it definitely worked and I know a couple stories. One story really made me cry. A mom emailed me, I think she was in Florida, that she had watched my film and said that it was a good film, not that bad.  In the film that I made a couple years ago, Days of Silence, I suggested that parents compare pictures from a couple weeks ago to pictures from six months ago. If there is a drastic change, you should talk to your child. She did that and she saw a drastic change in her daughter. The mom talked to her and the daughter broke down. She told her that she was tormented and bullied very badly, even thinking of suicide.  I knew from that point on that my film did something and I am happy about that. My film did what I wanted it to and I am OK with it.

It’s great to see how your film influences others and helps them in their lives. Do you plan on making more films in the future?

Yes, I want my job in 20 or 30 years to be a professional film director. I am always inspired by Steven Spielberg the very famous director. Honestly, he is just amazing and I was to be the next Steven Spielberg. He is a wonderful director and I’ve always been inspired by his work.

The film industry is something you want to continue with when you get older?


Who are some of the film producers and directors you look up to?

Since I am a Star Wars fan, I would have to say George Lucas. I definitely love George Lucas. He is my top favorite, along with Steven Spielberg. All the legendary ones inspire me – even ones that aren’t from America, such as Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein. He is a director, not from America, from 50 to 60 years ago. He is a very good director. He was fascinated by sound. He was directing films during the time when sound was first being brought into film. But really, I just look up to all directors.

Is there anyone in the film industry you would like to work and collaborate with?

Steven Spielberg, of course. I have always wanted to work with him just to see how he does his legendary work.

What is your favorite movie?

I have a lot of favorite movies but I would have to say my most favorite of all of them is Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

You founded a non-profit organization called Kids Resource. Can you tell us a little more about that and what inspired you to start Kids Resource?

Kids Resource is a non-profit organization that is directed to younger kids to help them deal with today’s issues. I was starting to make educational curriculum related to bullying for schools because of my film. The schools didn’t accept it – they wanted it to be from some sort of foundation or an organization. We went to organizations but they all wanted to pay the schools or pay us. It was something we didn’t want to do; we wanted to give the schools free material. I started Kids Resource just for that. I wanted to give schools free educational tools that would help them and help kids that would enjoy it. I wanted to provide visual education that is interactive and fun, not just a boring lecture. Something fun and interactive is more likely to be used by kids.  Kids Resource has a lot of plans!

To find out more about Kids Resource, visit: http://www.kidsresource.org

Apart from filmmaking, what other hobbies and interests do you have?

In my spare time, I absolutely love reading. Swimming is also a good sport of mine. I go to a school of arts, a very good school. I love it very much.

How can people watch your latest feature film? Is it in theaters?

It is not in theaters, although I wish it was. I’m kidding. It is on Amazon for $15.  If you feel that the money is going into my pocket, it is not whatsoever. It is goes straight to Kids Resource to help develop other films and other resources.

To support Garry’s film The Equation of Life, please visit:

To learn how you can become a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, go to: http://2013critic.kidsfirst.org

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Angelina Jolie – An Admirable Actress and Humanitarian by Brianna Hope Beaton

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

AngelinaJolie..jpgI have been examining the impact of women who were brave enough to do what no others in the film industry have done before and bestowing on them the title of “first” in their category. However, not all the women who have made a difference in films belong to the group of “first’s”. Angelina Jolie is known not only as a phenomenal actress, but also as a passionate humanitarian.

Angelina Jolie Voight was born on June 4, 1975 to actor Jon Voight and actress Marcheline Bertrand, in Los Angeles California. She followed in her parents’ footsteps into the world of entertainment. In Ms. Jolie’s early teen years she attended Lee Strasberg Theater Institute and later New York University. Her breakthrough role took place in the late 1990s as her performance in Gia, a made-for-television film for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. Another great dramatic performance in Girl, Interrupted (1999) brought Angelina her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Since then, she has starred in various roles – Shark Tale (Lola, 2004), Beyond Borders (Sarah Jordan, 2003), Salt (Evelyn Salt, 2010), Wanted (Fox, 2008), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Mrs. Smith, 2005), Playing by Heart (Joan, 1998) The Tourist (Elise Clifton-Ward, 2010), Maleficent (Maleficent, 2014) and many more.

As to her humanitarian work, Ms. Jolie was made a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency in 2001. Her work has affected many people in and out the United States. She captured the world’s interest when she worked to obtain aid for refugees in Cambodia, Darfur and Jordan and a few more. For her work in these areas, Ms. Jolie received the Global Humanitarian Action Award from the United Nations Association of the USA.

Hackers co-star Jonny Lee Miller married Jolie in 1995 and sadly, they divorced in 1999. The following year, Jolie married Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton. That married also ended in divorce, in 2003. Jolie met actor Brad Pitt during the making of Mr. and Mrs. Smith in 2004 and they hit it off. Not only did they become a couple but they expanded their family little ones. In 2002, Jolie adopted a son, Maddox, from Cambodia. A few years afterwards, she adopted a daughter, Zahara. The couple’s first biological daughter, Shiloh, was born in Africa in 2006. A year later, Jolie adopted a three-year-old boy, Pax Thien, from a Vietnamese orphanage. Then Jolie gave birth to twins, Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline, on July 12, 2008. In total the actress and humanitarian has six kids.

Along with all the joy and happiness in creating this wonderful family came immense grief when Jolie’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand died of ovarian cancer in 2007, at the age of 56. Having a family history of breast and ovarian cancer and then, learning that she had a gene known as BRCA1, which increases the risk of both these cancers, Jolie wanted to make precautions. She underwent a double mastectomy in an effort to prevent breast cancer in herself.  “My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” Jolie stated. “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could.”

On the lighter side of things, the engagement of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie occurred in 2012. They tied the knot, on August 23, 2014, in a quiet and special ceremony witnessed by their close family and close friends in the romantic French countryside.
I commend Angeline Jolie for her humanitarian efforts in promoting human welfare and social reforms with no prejudice of gender, sexual orientation, religious or national backgrounds. She has visited many countries around the world and I believe her goal is to save lives, relieve suffering and preserve human dignity.

Ms. Jolie’s career as an actress is extraordinary. She takes a scripted character and brings it to a believable and convincing life. She has mastered the skill of acting with control and confidence and always delivers a captivating performance. I certainly plan on taking the necessary steps to train and study hard on being a great actress guided by Angelina Jolie and other outstanding women.

One of my favorite quotes by Ms. Jolie that guides me is: “We come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”
—Angelina Jolie

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