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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.


Your buddies at KIDS FIRST!

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KIDS FIRST!/IN THE LOOP Film Festival Free Pass to enjoy on our last day – September 26

Sunday, September 26th, 2021

Our 30th Anniversary Celebration wraps up this afternoon, September 26 with a fantastic group of films from the creatives of tomorrow. Celebrating Student Filmmakers features: THE DOG WHO BROUGHT HOME THE SUN, DEEP FEARS, DELIVERING SUNSHINE, INTERFACE, RABBITS UNDER THE SHED, RED JUNIOR AND THE WOLF, LILLY GOES TO THE DOGS, THINGS TO REMEMBER, THE IMPOSSIBLE WAY, LONELY WOODS, DEREK AND HIS BRICK and GROWING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. Following the screening is a panel discussion with the filmmakers moderated by KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan Mani. You can watch the films beginning at 5:00PM Eastern time online at https://watch.eventive.org/intheloopkfff/play/612ff49053d63e005b9ee85b and you can access the panel beginning at 6:15 PM Eastern time at https://watch.eventive.org/intheloopkfff/play/612ff49053d63e005b9ee85b/613b9c415568e700bc677e43

The cool thing is that since today is our last day, you can watch all of the films from the festival until 11:55 PM Eastern time tonight. So, grab a bowl of popcorn and log on to see some terrific indie and student films for youth and families.

Watch a film on us. Here’s a link you can use for a free pass for today: https://intheloopkfff.eventive.org/passes/buy/friends_of_kids_first

As a reminder, here are some of the films we have played throughout the festival: QUARANTEENED: THE MUSICAL – the story we can all relate to about life during the age of COVID-19 – from the experience of a talented group of teens. The film is documented through photos, chats, Zoom calls and lots of great music! Quaranteened was written by all teen writers and recorded entirely from home and produced remotely. The show features the intertwined stories of a group of teenagers trying to stay connected in a world asking them to isolate themselves. This is followed by a Q&A with the film’s creator, Cori Anne Laemmel. Watch it here: https://watch.eventive.org/intheloopkfff/play/61241c47bf831b009c178de3

Life as it Happens! A collection of films telling stories about relationships and dealing with set-backs, food insecurity, and fitting in. Films include GAMING & LIFE, ROOMMATES, COPYCATS, ROCKLAND RELAY, MILK, TURTLE, MY OTHER SON and A BOY’S JOURNEY: CROSSING THE ALENUIHAHA.

75 DEGREES WEST – a student feature film exploring the fall of civilization after a prolonged pandemic as two brothers wander through a post-pandemic world, trying to survive as they travel across the US countryside. They journey toward 75° West, surviving as best they can on what they can find as they try to avoid human dangers along the way.

Foreign Exchange. A collection of films from filmmakers worldwide indlucing RED, YUANYUAN, CORONA DEV, JAADOO (THEMAGIC), WALK WALK WALK: THE STORY OF STAND PROUD AND DRONYA’S ARTIFICES.

Race Relations in a Diversifying World. Films include BLACK LIVES MATTER, BREATHE, HUMAN RACE ISM, LAST WORDS, LOVE IS LOVE, THE TRUTH OF BEAUTY and JOE BUFFALO. This is followed by a moderated panel discussion with the film creators.

The Outsiders – kids trying to fit in in some way, shape or form. Films include CHARLIE SURFER, HOPE, GIVE CHANGE, THE MISSFITS, RAINSHADOW and INSIDE OUT.


Kids are Saving the World features films about kids and their take on global environmental issues – KIDS WHO SAVE THE WORLD: UPCYCLING, REAL WORLD, BLUE GOLD ANIJAM, MAGGIE MAE: AN ENVIRONMENTAL STORY, GREAT WHITE SHARKS, THE IMPOSSIBLE WAY and more!


Of course all of these films have been vetted by our youth and adult jurors so you are assured that they all meet or exceed our baseline criteria of no gratuitous violence, no bias in terms of race, gender or culture, no replicable unsafe behavior, no inappropriate sexual behavior – plus, they must have an uplifting message. And, we have identified the audience age for each film so you can select one appropriate for yourself or your child.

Watch tonight for free and if you like what you see, consider making a donation to KIDS FIRST! to support all that we do for youth and families. Here’s a link you can use for a free pass for today: https://intheloopkfff.eventive.org/passes/buy/friends_of_kids_first

View the entire line-up of films here:  https://intheloopkfff.eventive.org/films

We’ll see you at the movies – online!

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Register Now for KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Online Boot Camps in June, July and August

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

If you’re passionate about movies and see yourself in front of the camera as an entertainment reporter or actor, look no further, this is the camp for you!  This summer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic our KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Boot Camps are all online. The great thing about it is that it doesn’t matter where you live, anyone can attend. You don’t have to live in the city where the camp meets or have to travel.

We have three camps meeting for one week each in June, July and August. Each camp meets for 2 hours a day, Monday through Friday. During the camp you will be coached by seasoned professionals and learn to…

  • Critique and write film reviews
  • Learn how to videotape your reviews
  • Interview talent on Zoom and in person
  • Promote your YouTube videos

After completing this camp, you’ll be invited to join our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics national team of reporters where you get to watch and review films before they are released, interview celebrities live and online, attend behind-the-scenes events for new film and digital releases.

Sound like what you’re looking for! Go here to register or for additional information. 


Camp dates and times
June 22 – 26
July 13 – 17
August 10 – 14
Classes meet 12:00 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time
9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Pacific Time

Class fee is $110.
Register at https://forms.gle/zaP1SZ6Q9TUe4e459

What do you do at camp?

  • Develop vocabulary and criteria to critique and write reviews.
  • Watch, analyze and discuss films.
  • Examine behind-the-scenes contributors (directors to editors).
  • Review film in written and video format daily.
  • Learn how to create videotaped reviews.
  • Learn how to record and edit your own reviews in front of a green screen.
  • Learn and practice how to interview celebrities online or in person.
  • Meet working actors, writers, producers, film critics and other entertainment professionals.
  • Work collaboratively with your team members.
  • Learn about filmmaking programs that are available to you.
  • Share your knowledge with parents, peers and the public.

Check out one of our previous camps.

Contact us for more information. https://www.kidsfirst.org

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Michael McCormick * Puppeteer Known for Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Return of the Jedi

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

We recently sat down with Master Puppeteer Michael McCormick to learn more about his work on Jim Henson’s films and more.

Michael McCormick has broad experience with design and fabrication in FX makeup, creatures, puppets and special props. Since 1960, he has been a professional sculptor and puppeteer and a member of both SAG and IATSE.

McCormick was performing his Punch and Judy puppet show on the Santa Fe Plaza in 1980 when Roger Miller (country music legend) stopped to chat. “He told me, ‘You ever shown your stuff to Jim Henson?’ ” McCormick said. “I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘You want to?’ The New Mexico native packed his puppets and flew to London. “Jim Henson hired me, because I loved my own work,” he said. Henson hired him to work on a new project called The Dark Crystal. Though it wasn’t a huge hit at the time, it has become one of the biggest hits of children’s cinema from the 1980s. McCormick was the head of the unit that created the puppets that were the bad guys, the evil Skeksis. From there, he went on to work on classics such as Labyrinth, created puppets for Return of the Jed and did special effects for other TV shows and movies. “But it was “Return of the Jedi” that stands out, he said. He created Salacious Crumb, Jabba The Hutt’s jester, for the film.

Though he retired in Ireland – or tried to – he returned to the States, taught at New Mexico State University and gives an occasional lecture. McCormick has always been a studio artist and shows his work in the United States and Europe. McCormick credits his parents for his love of the absurd and puppetry. His father came to Los Alamos in the 1940s to work on the Manhattan Project, and he encouraged McCormick to experiment and build things.

Interview by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

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Maureen Fan, CEO/Founder, Baobab Studios – The World’s Leading Indie Interactive Narrative Animation Studio

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Today, it is our pleasure to introduce you to a female leader in animation film production. Maureen Fan, CEO and co-founder Baobab Studios. Six-time Emmy winning Baobab Studios is the world’s leading independent interactive narrative animation studio. Their mission: Bring out your sense of wonder. Inspire you to dream. Make YOU matter. Baobab has won an Emmy for Best Interactive Media for every qualifying project the studio has created. Named Fast Company’s 2018 Most Innovative Company, Baobab is creatively led by Eric Darnell, the writer and director of Antz and all four Madagascar films. In a first, Hollywood is taking Baobab’s VR IP to become a feature film: Roth Kirschenbaum Films (​Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and The Huntsman) has signed on to adapt ​INVASION! into a traditional feature film.

Check out Gerry O’s interview with Maureen Fan from earlier this month.

Baobab has won six Emmy awards as well as the first-ever Annie award for Best VR Production. Crow: The Legend, both a linear animated short film and an interactive VR experience, won the most awards of any animated program or series, traditional and/or interactive, at the 2019 Emmy Awards. Baobab has released Invasion!, Asteroids!, Jack, Crow: The Legend, and Bonfire to commercial and critical acclaim. Their work (traditional, VR, and AR) has gone viral landing on YouTube’s trending category. 

Their work stars diverse talents such as John Legend, Oprah, Constance Wu, Diego Luna, Liza Koshy, Tye Sheridan, Elizabeth Banks, Ethan Hawke, Lupita Nyong’o, and Ali Wong.

Lauded as the “Pixar of Virtual Reality” (CNet, The Wall Street Journal), Baobab’s advisors include Alvy Ray Smith (Pixar co-founder), Glenn Entis (DreamWorks Animation co-founder), legendary Oscar-winning animator Glen Keane, Mireille Soria, Kevin Lin (Twitch co-founder).

Investors include: Comcast Ventures, HTC, Samsung, Shari Redstone and Liz Murdoch’s Advancit/Freelands Cap, The Chernin Group, Horizons Ventures, 20th Century Fox, EMP, Shanghai Media Group, Youku Global Media Fund (Alibaba), Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

Ms. Fan has held leadership roles in film, gaming, and the consumer web. She was most recently vice president of games at Zynga, where she oversaw three game studios, including the FarmVille sequels, which contributed to 40% of the company’s revenues. Previously, she worked on Pixar’s Toy Story 3 film and at eBay in product management and UI design. Her most recent collaboration, “The Dam Keeper,” directed by Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, was nominated for the 2015 Oscar® Best Animated Short. She received her undergraduate degree in an interdisciplinary program in computer science, art and psychology from Stanford University graduating Phi Beta Kappa and earned her master’s degree in business from Harvard University.

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

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