Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for December, 2021

Welcome To Earth * Exciting Six-Part Documentary Exploring Far Reaches Of The Globe

Saturday, December 11th, 2021

It might seem humans have mapped every inch of our planet’s surface, but look closer and you’ll discover that there is still so much more to uncover — the age of exploration is far from over! Welcome to Earth, a Disney+ original series from National Geographic, follows two-time Academy Award® nominee Will Smith on an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime adventure around the world to explore Earth’s greatest wonders and reveal its most hidden secrets. Throughout the six-part limited series produced by visionary Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, Protozoa Pictures, Jane Root’s Nutopia and Westbrook Studios, Will is guided by elite explorers on an awe-inspiring journey, getting up close and personal with some of the most thrilling spectacles on the planet — from volcanoes that roar in silence to deserts that move beyond our perception to animal swarms with minds of their own. Combining breathtaking cinematography with Will’s boundless curiosity and enthusiasm, the blockbuster series is an exciting, multisensory ride through Earth’s most mind-bending portals.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carlee S. comments, “I loved Welcome To Earth, a six-part documentary featuring Will Smith traveling to the far reaches of the globe in search of Earth’s hidden secrets. It is exciting to watch Will find himself in places few have gone before, which forces him to conquer his fears as he embarks on life changing expeditions that alter his perception, and the viewer’s, of the world we live in.” See her full review below.  

Welcome To Earth
By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

I loved Welcome To Earth, a six-part documentary featuring Will Smith traveling to the far reaches of the globe in search of Earth’s hidden secrets. It is exciting to watch Will find himself in places few have gone before, which forces him to conquer his fears as he embarks on life changing expeditions that alter his perception, and the viewer’s, of the world we live in.

Audiences will follow Will from the Nambia Desert to Norway, from Brazil into the depths of the ocean and to top of a volcano, as well as to other fascinating places. He witnesses the secrets of nature in hidden places that most people don’t often see or notice. Viewers will be both educated and enchanted by the wonders they encounter in each episode, especially since the different camera angles and tricks that capture the speed of movement give viewers images of these incredible sights.

My favorite scene is in the episode called “Descent Into Darkness” when Will Smith and Melissa Marquez (a marine biologist) travel by submarine 3000 feet below sea level to a mind-blowing place that looks like another world. They explore and learn about a variety of sea creatures that live in the Twilight and Midnight zones below the ocean. It’s fascinating to learn how the animals communicate using bioluminescence, the emission of light. And since a very small percentage of the ocean has been explored, Will’s below-the-sea trip is particularly meaningful and also quite terrifying. I also appreciate how each experience has expert guides. Many of them have faced challenges of their own which makes it even more interesting. It’s eye opening to hear from multiple people on what they’re passionate about and learn about their past. Ultimately, Will Smith is an incredible host who combines humor with education and is very enjoyable to watch.

The message in this series is that you need to face your fears in order to defeat them. You can’t let your fears stop you from pursuing your goals. Will gives the advice to “work with your fear not against it.” He is constantly pushing himself and testing his limits, too. There is some mild cursing that parents should be aware of.

I give Welcome To Earth 5 out of 5 stars. This documentary held my attention and got me excited to learn more about Earth. I recommend this to ages 11 to 17, as well as to adults. It releases on Disney+ December 8, 2021.

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The Intruder * One-Of-A-Kind Mix Of Horror, Humor, Intrigue And A Sprinkling Of Mystique

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

Inés works as a dubbing actress and sings in a choir in Buenos Aires. After a traumatic experience during a holiday trip, she develops a sleep disorder and starts suffering from very vivid nightmares. At work, the studio microphones pick up strange sounds coming from her body, threatening her career and her singing. Inés becomes paranoid as she has increasing trouble telling what is real from what is not. She begins to entertain a dangerous idea: the characters in her dreams are trying to take over her body.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Its one-of-a-kind mix of horror, humor, intrigue and a sprinkling of mystique make The Intruder, Argentina’s entry for the Oscar Awards, a spellbinding watch. With enjoyably offbeat storytelling and crisp cinematography, this film is not one to miss.” See his full review below.

The Intruder

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

Its one-of-a-kind mix of horror, humor, intrigue and a sprinkling of mystique make The Intruder, Argentina’s entry for the Oscar Awards, a spellbinding watch. With enjoyably offbeat storytelling and crisp cinematography, this film is not one to miss.

The Intruder opens with some scenes that are up to the audience’s interpretation, where we meet Inés (Érica Rivas), a voice artist who suffers from troubling nightmares after her partner Leopoldo (Daniel Hendler) commits suicide. Additionally, as every time she tries to dub someone, there is electromagnetic interference (a slight hum) that ruins the recording. Fellow voice-actress Adela (Mirta Busnelli), a wizened and mysterious woman, provides Inés with a curt answer – Inés has an intruder, a being who came to her in a nightmare and was involuntarily invited by Inés to stay. She struggles in a variety of outlandish ways to get rid of this pest. 

Érica Rivas provides a compelling, authentic performance as Inés, and her genuine emotion makes up for some clunky dialogue in the film. The supporting cast of Nahuel Pérez as Alberto, Cecilia Roth as Inés’ mother Marta, Guillermo Arengo as Inés’ maestro and Agustín Rittano as Nelson support the storyline well, with Pérez’s portrayal of the sweet, yet mysterious Alberto truly taking the cake. The film gets complicated when dealing with the secondary cast, as the lines between reality and hallucination begin to blur. Confusion may arise during this segment, despite how clear each of the characters’ personalities are. Music plays a large role in this film, as Alberto is charged with tuning a large church organ and Inés is part of a choir that sings some suitably haunting songs. Every musical element of The Intruder has been carefully thought through and meticulously composed by Luciano Azzigotti. The direction and screenplay by Natalia Meta are also flawless.

The Intruder is all about overcoming tragedy, bouncing back from trauma and confronting your inner demons. Inés’ journey is much like that of humanity as we (hopefully) exit this pandemic and move forward. There are several sexual scenes and dark themes to watch out for.

I give The Intruder 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults. The Intruder is available to watch on HBO Max and Hulu.

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