Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for April, 2021

City of Ghosts * Clever, Charming And Refreshing

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

A group of kids discover stories around their city by communicating directly with the ghosts who inhabit it. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jude A. comments, “What could possibly be clever, charming and also refreshing? The new short series City of Ghosts! displays a new authentic animation style that is really pleasing to the eye and will make you want to watch the show more and more. The show delivers a very creative plot that makes you fall in love with both the show and its characters.” See his full review below.

City of Ghosts
By Jude A., KIDS FIRST Film Critic, age 15

What could possibly be clever, charming and also refreshing? The new short series City of Ghosts! displays a new authentic animation style that is really pleasing to the eye and will make you want to watch the show more and more. The show delivers a very creative plot that makes you fall in love with both the show and its characters.

City of Ghosts follows a group of children that love ghosts. Together they decide to make a homemade show discovering different ghosts around the city. The children go to various places meeting new people and new friends.

City of Ghosts has a very different animation style than most other shows. The physical characters are animated, but the environment around them is real world settings. This seems odd at first, but over time you start to adore it. The animation really stands out because of this creative new angle of animation it delivers.

The show has many themes of friendship, family and exploration. City of Ghosts also has many morals. It teaches children the importance of creativity and the concept that you can do anything you put your mind to.

I give City of Ghosts 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 2 to 6. This was definitely a highlight of the New York International Film Festival and is available now on Netflix.

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Dreambuilders * Captivating And Unique Storyline That Gives A Twist To How Dreams Are Created

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Minna’s life is turned upside down when her dad’s new fiancée Helena and her daughter Jenny move in. Her new stepsister Jenny turns out to be horrible and Minna is frustrated. She wants her gone! One night, Minna discovers a world behind her dreams in which the dreambuilders create our dreams on theater stages and finds out how to manipulate Jenny’s dreams. But interfering with people’s dreams has dire consequences and when Minna goes too far one night, Jenny can’t wake up. Minna must enter the dream world one final time to face the dreams she has created in order to save Jenny and her new family.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avery P. comments, “The film Dreambuilders is a very creative movie.  It is very whimsical and bright and takes you on a fun adventure behind the scenes of our dreams!” See her full review below.

Dreambuilders
By Avery Peaslee, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The film Dreambuilders is a very creative movie.  It is very whimsical and bright and takes you on a fun adventure behind the scenes of our dreams!

The plot of this film takes in the concept of modern family issues. When Minna’s (           Robyn Dempsey) life is turned upside down upon the arrival of her new stepmom Helene (Karen Ardiff) and mean daughter Jenny (Emma Jenkins). Minna is able to find the backstage to her dreams and tries to sabotage Jenny’s dreams to stop her from ruining her life. When a dream creation goes wrong, Minna finds herself and her dream worker friend Gaff (Luke Griffin) helping to bring back Jenny.

Throughout the animated movie each scene is colorful and bright. The set designs are so whimsical and creative. I love each design and the idea of our dreams. The dreams are created for each person with actors, sets and scripts. There is a whole new world behind the backstage of dreams. The ideas are super fun. My favorite part of the movie is when Minna finds this hidden world. Each character is very unique and has a certain style that makes them different. The storyline is also quite sad because it addresses family issues. The hardship between the two families eventually wears off until they all learn to love each other. There is beautiful background music playing throughout the film. The songs all have a story behind them relating back to the scenes in the movie. The movie did become a bit predictable at times, but it is still original, entertaining and worth watching.

The message is to be careful what you wish for. Minna wants a specific life with just her dad. When others show up, she is unsure and does not take into account the sadness and harm she would bring to her family by messing with others’ dreams. You should know that this film includes a sensitive topic of families like divorce, fighting and new family members. There are also some frightening and intense scenes.

I give Dreambuilders 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 13. Available now at select KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals

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Do Good * Heartbreaking and Heartwarming Show About Hurricanes Laura and Delta during COVID-19

Monday, April 19th, 2021

Do Good is a ten-episode docu-series premiering March 5, 2021 on YouTube that turns the spotlight on the heroic relief efforts, including by veterans, following the deadly Category 4 Hurricane Laura that devastated Southwest Louisiana in August 2020, followed just six weeks later by Hurricane Delta.

“With the recent deadly winter storms hitting much of the country, we saw many examples of neighbors rising to the occasion to help neighbors. Do Good tells similarly powerful and inspirational stories of the recovery efforts following the back-to-back hurricanes that hit Louisiana last year,” said Producer and Director Justin Roberts. “In challenging times such as our nation has been facing, it’s time to shine the light on the many people who are sacrificing for others.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Do Good is both a heartbreaking and heartwarming show in its portrayal of the destruction and suffering that followed Hurricanes Laura and Delta, which wracked Louisiana during the COVID-19 pandemic. The show’s creators are masters in the art of storytelling. You’ll laugh and cry and will certainly be motivated to be a part of a good cause.” See his full review below.

Do Good
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Do Good is both a heartbreaking and heartwarming show in its portrayal of the destruction and suffering that followed Hurricanes Laura and Delta, which wracked Louisiana during the COVID-19 pandemic. The show’s creators are masters in the art of storytelling. You’ll laugh and cry and will certainly be motivated to be a part of a good cause.

Do Good is the brainchild of veterans Justin Roberts and Hank Barbe, whose idea it was to learn and share the stories of those suffering from Hurricanes Laura and Delta, which hit Louisiana last year, and link arms with organizations that are working towards recovery. Once the series reaches monetization requirements on YouTube, those funds will go directly to the organizations featured in the series.

It is truly sad to see the displacement and destruction caused by the hurricanes, and you feel genuinely bad for them. The human touch to the episodes, including interjections from Roberts and Barbe, the detailed storytelling and interviews backed by soft, poignant background music, and the empathy shown by volunteers really touches your heart. I especially found the case of Christine, a 92-year-old hurricane survivor who lives in her Jeep, to be heart-rending. You’ll have to watch the show to learn more about her story.

Do Good’s message is just that: to do good and to help others in times of adversity, just like the organizations highlighted in each episode. This is a beautifully human film and is an incredible watch during the time we live in now, when kindness and altruism can seem hard to come by.

I give Do Good 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch episodes 1 and 2 of Do Good on YouTube, right now!

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The Girl Who Believes In Miracles

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Unlike most people, young Sara Hopkins is willing to take God at His word. So when she hears a preacher say faith can move mountains, she starts praying. What begins with a mysteriously healed bird leads to people suddenly cured of their misery and misfortune all over town. But the overwhelming crush of notoriety and press attention soon takes its toll on Sara. Will her family be able to save their miracle girl before it’s too late? KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S. comments, “The moral of this film is to always let faith guide you. Even as Sarah’s health declines, she never loses her faith. She stands by God and understands that everything happens for a reason, unlike her family who try to fight the ticking clock.” See her full review below. 

The Girl Who Believes In Miracles
By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

The Girl Who Believes In Miracles is a lukewarm Christian movie with a weak storyline. The few heartwarming scenes aren’t quite enough to keep this film afloat. With a strong performance by the ensemble’s youngest actress, the movie does not have enough storytelling to deliver a wholly satisfying movie experience.

The Girl Who Believes In Miracles centers around a little girl named Sarah (Austyn Johnson) who has seen God and can grant miracles. She helps cancer patients, and even blind and paralyzed teens. All the while, Sarah’s fame increases, with people knocking on her door to grant miracles. Sarah’s health declines, too, but she keeps up her faith.

The movie makes it clear from the beginning that Jesus is praised, and that this is not a modern version of the Messiah’s story. It is unclear, though, why Sarah holds this power to grant miracles as she has done nothing significant except have faith. The Girl Who Believes In Miracles is confusing in this way and may leave the audience wondering, “Can anyone be a Messiah?”  However, the actors deliver empowering performances. In the scenes in which Sarah’s health weakens, her suffering is absolutely heartbreaking. Austyn really has the audience pulling for her. Sarah’s grandfather, Sam (Peter Coyote), also has a heartfelt monologue in which he talks to God and says he would rather die than Sarah. His love shines through, along with his pain, creating a tear-jerking scene.

The moral of this film is to always let faith guide you. Even as Sarah’s health declines, she never loses her faith. She stands by God and understands that everything happens for a reason, unlike her family who try to fight the ticking clock.  As a Christian, I did find the film somewhat offensive in its message that anyone with faith can perform miracles.

I give The Girl Who Believes In Miracles 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters April 2, 2021.

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