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Archive for January, 2022

Barbara Lee:  Speaking Truth to Power * An Historic Story Generations Should Witness

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

With unique access to a sitting member of Congress, Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power tells the complex story of Rep. Barbara Lee, a steadfast voice for human rights, peace, and economic and racial justice who was the lone vote in opposition to the broad authorization of military force following the September 11th attacks and is the highest-ranking African American woman in the United States Congress.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C. comments, “The fantastic documentary, Barbara Lee:  Speaking Truth to Power, directed by Abby Ginzberg shares an historic story generations should witness. I admire how this documentary focuses more on the current impact of Barbara Lee. Many documentaries based on a single influential person are solely focused on the past, while this film does not.” Ayden P. adds, “Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power is an inspirational documentary.  My attention was really captured by Barbara’s transition from a single mother on public assistance to an activist with a political career built on a promise to help others.” See their full reviews below.

Barbara Lee:  Speaking Truth to Power
By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JANUARY 19: Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks onstage at Civic Center Plaza during the Women’s March San Francisco on January 19, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images)

The fantastic documentary, Barbara Lee:  Speaking Truth to Power, directed by Abby Ginzberg shares an historic story generations should witness. I admire how this documentary focuses more on the current impact of Barbara Lee. Many documentaries based on a single influential person are solely focused on the past, while this film does not.

Barbara Lee is currently a United States Congresswoman who has pushed boundaries and broken glass ceilings. This documentary follows the initiatives she stands for and how she has impacted the politics as the 100th Black member of Congress.

It is exciting to see so many familiar faces throughout this film, such as, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and the late former Congressman John Lewis. The flow and organization of this film is my favorite aspect. As most documentaries are known to be information heavy, I love how Director Abby Ginzberg starts the film off with Lee’s most recent endeavors. This demonstrates that Congresswoman Lee is still making history and that I am living in it! It is interesting to see how Barbara Lee differs from other politicians—her life in this film is depicted as one large campaign trail to get more people involved in what she advocates for.

Barbara Lee says the message of this documentary herself, stating, “You have to be true to yourself.” Also, although faced with so much controversy and hardship throughout life, we must, in every circumstance, know who we are and act accordingly. This film is a call to action from all of us to take a stand on the issues we care about.

I give Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power, 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommended it to ages 7 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power on STARZ premiering February 1, 2022.

Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power

By Ayden P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

OAKLAND CA.- JUNE 5: Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks in front of Oakland City Hall, Friday, June 5, 2020, during a solidarity George Floyd protest event. (Photo by Karl Mondon/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power is an inspirational documentary.  My attention was really captured by Barbara’s transition from a single mother on public assistance to an activist with a political career built on a promise to help others.

The story is about Representative Barbara Lee, who is a voice for human rights, peace and equality. One point of significance is that Barbara Lee is the lone voice in opposition to the authorization of military force after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Barbara Lee is also the highest ranking African-American woman in the U.S. Congress.

This film highlights Barbara’s struggles as a child growing up in a segregated town, to being a divorced single parent; through these struggles we can see what motivates her to better her family’s circumstances.  Barbara Lee helps people who need assistance because it’s the right thing to do. She does it with a smile on her face, making me truly believe that she loves what she does and that it is her true calling. We get many glimpses of the woman and the politician as we see Barbara Lee in her office, in her car, in meetings and in her home. This gives a real picture into what makes Barbara Lee inspirational —she represents so many viewers like the single mother, divorced people, those on welfare, non-traditional college students, barrier breakers and servant leaders. Audiences also will see what colleagues, family and friends think of Barbara Lee. Notables like Cory Booker, the late John Lewis, Danny Glover and Barbara’s son all discuss Barbara and their observations. It is also noteworthy to see the adversity Barbara faced being the lone voice opposing force after 9/11. Even when people were very critical of her, she remained steadfast in her beliefs. This steadfastness is a theme in the documentary.

The message of Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power is to fight for what you believe in. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone or to be the first to do something. We are all capable of lending our voices to help and stand up for others.

I give Barbara Lee: Speak Truth to Power 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults.  The film is featured on STARZ beginning February 1, 2022 for Black History Month.

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A Taste of Hunger * Truly Shows The Perfection Of The Culinary World

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

A power couple within the Danish gourmet scene run the popular restaurant Malus in Copenhagen.  The couple is willing to sacrifice everything to achieve their dream – getting the coveted Michelin star.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nyara A. comments, “The captivating film, A Taste of Hunger by Christoffer Boe, truly shows the perfection of the culinary world. Each dish in this movie is carefully arranged and perfectly cooked. The acting portrays the deep desire that every chef has to create a dish that the customer would never forget.” See her full review below.

A Taste of Hunger

By Nyara Afshar, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The captivating film, A Taste of Hunger by Christoffer Boe, truly shows the perfection of the culinary world. Each dish in this movie is carefully arranged and perfectly cooked. The acting portrays the deep desire that every chef has to create a dish that the customer would never forget. I can almost smell all of the delicious food, as if the scent of sautéed oyster, cooked octopus, and fermented lemons are wafting through the screen.

A Movie by Hr. Boe Zentropa

The storyline revolves around a Danish couple, both culinary experts. Maggi (Katrine Greis-Rosenthal) and Carsten (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) both dream of only one accomplishment, receiving the world’s most renowned culinary award, a Michelin star. Although their dream is big, they use every means of achieving it, even if it comes in the way of their relationship, and more importantly, their family. Will Maggi’s affair destroy their dream altogether, or will they push past this bump in the long road to a Michelin star?

A Movie by Hr. Boe Zentropa

The protagonist, played by Katrine Greis-Rosenthal, portrays her character with a sense of mystery. You never truly know what is going on inside of Maggi’s head. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays both a loving father and an uncompromising boss very realistically, giving the viewers mixed feelings of whether they should root for him or not. The food shown in this movie is designed to almost perfection, enhancing the quality of this film. My favorite part of the movie is the opening sequence. The beautifully presented food and the music create an enthralling introduction to the movie.

The message of this film is that working hard is the only way to achieve your dream. No matter how hard you try, there will always be setbacks and forks in the road, but to reach what you want, you have to get back up, no matter how many times you fall. This is an uplifting message to all those who have a big dream, no matter how hard it is to fulfill. The main age restriction of this movie is due to the sexual scenes. There are multiple scenes that would not be appropriate for ages 13 and under.

I give A Taste of Hunger 4 out of five stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters and on demand January 28, 2022.

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The Tiger Rising * Powerful Film And The Perfect Resource To Help People Overcome Challenges

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid star in this beloved tale based on the New York Times best-selling book by Kate DiCamillo. When 12-year-old Rob Horton (Christian Convery) discovers a caged tiger in the woods near his home, his imagination runs wild and life begins to change in the most unexpected ways. With the help of a wise and mysterious maid, Willie May (Queen Latifah) and the stubborn new girl in school (Madalen Mills), he navigates through childhood memories, heartache, and wondrous adventures in this heartwarming adaptation. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “This powerful film is packed with so much, that it will undoubtedly become the perfect resource to help people overcome challenges.” See his full review below.  

The Tiger Rising

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Grief can run so unbelievably deep that it can control your life.  Sadly, this is the case with 12-year-old Rob Horton in the new film The Tiger Rising.  This powerful film is packed with so much, that it will undoubtedly become the perfect resource to help people overcome challenges.  Although its subject matter is somewhat heavy, this film will leave its viewers with a sense of empowerment that each of us has for what it takes to make it through our darkest days. 

Based on Kate DiCamillo’s book, The Tiger Rising follows a young boy on his heartfelt journey following the loss of his mother. Young Rob (Christian Convery) flees with his Dad to a new town to start their life anew. Rob is bullied at his new school, but finds friendship with Sistene (Madalen Mills), an aggressive and outspoken classmate who is also new to the area and dealing with problems of her own. Rob stumbles upon a caged tiger and shares his find with Sistene who insists that this tiger be set free. Feeling confused about doing the right thing, Rob seeks advice from the motel’s maid Willie May (Queen Latifah) who gives him genuine and endearing advice.

What I liked most about The Tiger Rising is how symbolic it is. The tiger in the cage represents the very trapped Rob and Sistine.  Both of these kids are struggling with their trapped emotions very much like the tiger that spends his days pacing back and forth in his tiny cage. The actors for this film completely fit their roles and give it such meaning.  The Tiger Rising tugs at the heart and creates gratitude for our blessings in life, which I also appreciate.  The outcome of the film is suspenseful and filled with complex emotions, leaving viewers both sad and glad at the same time. Also worth a mention are the terrific visual effects that bring such life to the tiger.  The films explores Rob’s close family relationships, as shown in Rob’s flashbacks and how, when those bonds are no longer there, they are replaced by the bonds of friendship. When these two kids hit rock bottom, they must trust one another to lift themselves back up. 

The main themes of The Tiger Rising are about relationships and trusting others.  There is a deeper message in The Tiger Rising, however. Loss and grief can cause you to become caged and isolated from the world; yet the only way to be released from it is to find a way to free yourself. Each of us has the ability to move beyond these constraints and Willie May’s advice of “nobody can rescue you, you have to rescue yourself,” expresses the importance of self-empowerment.

I give The Tiger Rising 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to ages 8 to 18.  Adults, especially educators, will also love this film. The Tiger Rising releases in theaters January 21, 2022 and begins streaming on Apple TV February 8, 2022.

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The King’s Daughter * A Swashbuckling Adventure With A Royal Heroine, A Mystical Creature And A Fairytale Setting

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Known as The Sun King, Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) is the most powerful and influential monarch on the planet. Obsessed with his own mortality and the future of France, Louis turns to his spiritual advisor, Père La Chaise (William Hurt), and the royal physician to help him obtain the key to immortality. Believing a mermaid (Fan Bingbing) contains a force that grants everlasting life, Louis commissions a young sea captain to search the seas and capture the mystical creature. Further complicating his plans is his orphaned daughter, Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario), who returns to court with an abundance of elegance and an inherent defiance of authority. With a rare solar eclipse approaching, Louis will discover where his daughter’s true loyalties lie as he races against time to extract the mermaid’s life-giving force. 

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “If you’re looking for a swashbuckling adventure with a royal heroine and a mystical creature in a fairytale setting then The King’s Daughter is for you!  This movie showcases the beauty and majesty of Versailles with breathtaking cinematography that is truly the stuff of dreams.” Kyla C. adds, “The King’s Daughter combines historic and futuristic elements into one modern, fantastical film. The sets are absolutely beautiful and the acting is on point—and along with that, an intriguing storyline and deeply developed characters make it impossible to stop watching.” Makena P. wraps it up with, “I love The King’s Daughter because the story timeline creates suspense and is very intriguing. It guides the film in many different ways, with costumes, makeup, sets, setting, and how the characters are portrayed. The costumes really caught my eye—every single one is different.” See their full reviews below.

The King’s Daughter

By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

The King’s Daughter combines historic and futuristic elements into one modern, fantastical film. The sets are absolutely beautiful and the acting is on point—and along with that, an intriguing storyline and deeply developed characters make it impossible to stop watching.

The fantasy story follows King Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) of France and his determination to gain immortality, no matter the cost. Even the death of a mermaid (Bingbing Fan) and the grief of his daughter, Marie-Josephe D’Alember (Kaya Scodelario), will not stop him. He proves his selfishness even further by forcing his daughter into a marriage to make allies with the Dutch, despite her love for the sailor Benoit (Paul Ireland). Will Marie learn of the King’s plans in time to save the mermaid? Or will lives be lost and love drained in King Louis’s path to eternal life?

The King’s Daughter has gorgeous sets. The palace is gigantic and golden, with intricate designs etched on the top of the points. Wide open fields with vibrant green grass, a fountain surrounding a magnificent statue and the seaside cliffs where Marie has to decide her fate are only a few of the breathtaking locations. The cave where the mermaid lives, however, rises above all. The gentle dimness sets the tone for the friendship that will be created and then jeopardized. With the ship towering over the water, the limited light reflects in the sea. These pretty sets create a perfect background for the wonderful acting. Pierce Brosnan as King Louis, Kaya Scodelario as Marie, and William Hurt as Pere La Chaise deliver some of the best performances. The actors drop clues as their characters’ motivations and secrets are slowly revealed to make the plot even more interesting.

The message of The King’s Daughter is to treasure loved ones and regard all lives as important, no matter their appearance or powers. This is shown through the themes of love and equal treatment of other species, symbolized by the mermaid. There are periods of violence, particularly at the end.

I give The King’s Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. Get that popcorn ready—you can view The King’s Daughter in select theaters beginning January 21, 2022.

The King’s Daughter

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14 

If you’re looking for a swashbuckling adventure with a royal heroine and a mystical creature in a fairytale setting then The King’s Daughter is for you!  This movie showcases the beauty and majesty of Versailles with breathtaking cinematography that is truly the stuff of dreams. 

The King’s Daughter is based on the book The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre—a historical fantasy novel taking place during the reign of King Louis XIV of France (Pierce Brosnan).  King Louis, known as The Sun King, is the most powerful monarch of that time and obsessed with his own mortality and rule. While seeking the key to immortality, he has his estranged daughter, Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario) brought to court.  She was secretly raised in a convent and is unaware of her parentage but has a forthright character, intellect and beauty that draws him to reconsider his world and values.

The performances in this film really add to the haunting majesty of the storyline under the direction of Sean McNamara.  I really enjoyed the depth of the relationship between King Louis (Pierce Brosnan) and his spiritual advisor, Père La Chaise (William Hurt).  Naturally, my favorite character is our independent and strong heroine Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario), and she is a great role model in this film.  Interestingly, after playing the romantic roles in this movie, Kaya Scodelario and Benjamin Walker (Captain Yves De La Croix) fell in love in real life!  Another magical element is the narration by the incomparable Julie Andrews. 

In addition to the acting performances, the breathtaking setting of Versailles imbues its own magic as does the visual effects in this film.  Music is another key element which supports the story, and I enjoyed the scenes of Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario) composing and performing as her music weaves its magic on more than one character.  Near and dear to my heart are the sumptuous gowns and costumes designed by Lizzy Gardiner as the exquisite detailing adds to the majesty of the characters. This film has more than one message as it explores the importance of belief and values. The characters learn to stop hoping for the perfect world and to live in the one that they inhabit and try to make it better—an important message for everyone.  King Louis XIV learns through the perseverance of his daughter, Marie-Josephe, that only love is immortal.

I rate The King’s Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults who will enjoy it as well. The film opens exclusively in theaters on January 21, 2022. Don’t miss this magical story as it unfolds!

The King’s Daughter

By Makena P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

I love The King’s Daughter because the story timeline creates suspense and is very intriguing. It guides the film in many different ways, with costumes, makeup, sets, setting, and how the characters are portrayed. The costumes really caught my eye—every single one is different. The outfits of Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario) are so beautiful and seem to always have a touch of her personality in them.

The storyis about King Louis XIV’s (Pierce Brosnan) daughter, Marie-Josephe D’Alember, who comes from an orphanage where she is being raised by nuns. She is introduced to the world where she meets a mermaid (Bingbing Fan) who is captured and put in a secret place where the subjects of King Louis XIV hold her. Marie-Josephe doesn’t know what they are planning to do with the mermaid and why.

The cast of The King’s Daughter is excellent overall and includes William Hurt in a key role as Pere La Chaise. The movie is partly filmed in the Palace of Versailles in France including a big dance sequence filmed inside the Hall of Mirrors. The King’s Daughter has so much of everything—action, adventure, family, fantasy, and romance which all make the film so interesting!

The message of this film is that you know what’s right and wrong, so don’t let anyone get away with doing something wrong. Even people you love might be doing something for the wrong reason—it’s important to stand up to them and make it right.

I give The King’s Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find The King’s Daughter in theaters on January 21, 2022.

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News-o-matic / KIDS FIRST! Film Festival – Last Day

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

As you know, KIDS FIRST! has been celebrating its 30th Anniversary this week, with a film festival co-hosted by News-O-Matic. Today is the last day to watch films at the co-hosted festival so, take a little bit of time to watch some phenomenal films by indie and student filmmakers worldwide. Go to https://newsomatic-kfff.eventive.org/welcome. It’s Free! It’s Fun! There’s shorts and features for kids of middle school age, plus younger and older. Just look at the tabs under each film to see what age group it’s recommended for.

The team at News-0-matic has selected over 60 films from indie and student filmmakers worldwide and their festival is completely sponsored so it is FREE for you to attend. Plus it is entirely Virtual, so you can watch from anywhere. You can reserve a ticket for any of the 5 Virtual Screenings we have scheduled this week with themes about Animals (Real and animated), Animation (Lots and lots of animation), Earth & Science, Foreign Insights, and Life and Family.  Each virtual screening block consists of a collection of short films that last for approximately 90 to 120 minutes. Each block premieres on a specific day this week, but you can then watch it anytime between that day and the last day of the festival, January 17, which is also the last day to vote. Remember to vote for your favorite so we can honor the filmmakers who have worked so hard to bring you entertaining, engaging and thoughtful content.

Please, think big and take time to check out the News-o-Matic / KIDS FIRST! Film Festival. I can almost guarantee you that some of these budding filmmakers will become tomorrow’s top filmmakers.

Cheers!

Your buddies at KIDS FIRST!

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