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Kids Helping Kids – One Film At A Time

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Celebrate Giving Week with KIDS FIRST! November 29 – December 3

I’m a big believer in the importance of taking time to be grateful. It’s not surprising that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all – just ask my children about that. As KIDS FIRST! celebrates its 30th anniversary, I want to express my gratitude to all our wonderful donors and supporters that helps get our KIDS FIRST! Film Critic’s reviews out to kids and families everywhere, guiding them to make better media choices.


As we approach Giving Tuesday, I want to remind you that contributions from individual donors like you assist us in meeting our annual fundraising goals which provides critical funding that supports all the backend work at our office – coaching our young reporters, editing their written and videotaped reviews, promoting them on our website, social media pages, YouTube channel, weekly podcast and weekly e-zine.

On the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, you have the opportunity to join millions around the world in supporting the causes they care about on #GivingTuesday. I realize that there are many causes that tug at your heartstrings. I am simply asking you to take a moment to do something that benefits youth and families everywhere. A donation to KIDS FIRST! helps kids make thoughtful media choices and sometimes that can be life changing. Support Kids Helping Kids Make Positive Life Choices One Film At A Time: https://gofund.me/d26e072d

I remember the first time I met Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) and he told me, “Keep doing what you are doing Ranny because it truly does make a difference. I know it’s hard sometimes, but you need to stick with it.”

If you are a regular follower of our lively group of youth reporters, you know that KIDS FIRST! Film Critics are a team of 65 youth, ages 9 to 21, who review the latest films, TV shows, Digital Media designed for a youth and family Audience. Our youth reporters come from all across the USA, plus from other countries.

These young people attend press screenings, press junkets, red carpet events and stand side by side with seasoned entertainment reporters. They hold their own and are well respected in the entertainment industry. Their reviews and talent interviews are published on the KIDS FIRST! website, social media, YouTube Channel, weekly podcast and weekly newsletter. Plus, it is shared with a group of 40+ publications – print and online that reach a total of over 7 million subscribers/viewers/readers with every post.

Our youth reporters are real kids giving real opinions about entertainment geared for youth and families.

They share with you their genuine opinions and give warning about any unsavory elements such as graphic violence, profanity, sexual content or racism. They want you – parents and children alike – to have enough information to make intelligent choices about the media you choose to consume or allow your children to consume. KIDS FIRST! Film Critics are unique in examining entertainment from a youth point of view. When the kids win, everyone wins! Smarter kids make smarter consumers.

KIDS FIRST! has been a trusted source for parents and families for 30 years! In celebration of our 30th anniversary, we ask for your support so we can reach more people nation- and world-wide. Your support provides coaches, editors, technical personnel and equipment to assist our youth reporters, provide ongoing training, and help us reach an ever increasing audience of youth and families.

KIDS FIRST! is a project of the national 501(c)(3) Coalition for Quality Children’s Media. Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

More about KIDS FIRST! and parent testimonials.

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Join KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Panelists at VIEW Conference October 17, 2021

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Join our five KIDS FIRST! Film Critics speaking at the world renown VIEW Conference October 17, 2021 at 1:15 p.m. Pacific Time/4:15 p.m. Eastern. This virtual panel will tackle the topic: What Kids Want To See In Animation.  KIDS FIRST! Reporter Eshaan M. will moderate the panel with fellow KIDS FIRST! teammates Benjamin P., Tiana S., Heather S. and Ayden P. as panelists. They will discuss current trends in animation, their hopes for the future, how live-action and animation films differ and intersect and much more! Join us! FREE registration at: https://www.viewconference.it/pages/registration.

VIEW Conference is a renowned international animation, VFX and computer graphics symposium which will be taking place virtually as well as in-person in Turin, Italy, October 17-22. Speakers at 22nd International VIEW Conference include legendary Academy Award Winning cinematographer Sir Roger Deakins, Director Tom McGrath (Boss Baby: Family Business), Animator Jorge R. Gutierrez (Maya and the Three), Director Glen Keane (Over the Moon) Rob Bredow, Chief Creative Officer, Industrial Light & Magic, Maureen Fan, CEO & Co-Founder, Baobab Studios, Glenn Entis, Academy Award Winner, Co-Founder PDI (later Dreamworks) and Tomm Moore (Co-Founder/Creative Director at Cartoon Salon). Access the complete program for the event here; access a complete list of speakers here. Watch prior panels, exclusive interviews and other content from VIEW Conference here.

Eshaan M. interned at the VIEW Conference in the summer of 2021 under the mentorship of Director Maria Elena Gutierrez, creating the VIEW Conference podcast, assembling marketing materials, creating videos and editing. Eshaan lives in Houston, TX and joined the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics in June, 2020.  

Previously, Eshaan reported for Time for Kids and one of his highlights was covering the Democratic Debate in Houston where he interviewed then Senator, Kamala HarrisHe loves reading and writing of any kind and is tons of fun! We think you’ll love him as much as we do. Online portfolio

“The creative energy at VIEW Conference is mesmerizing,” Eshaan comments. “I’m so happy that VIEW Conference will be back in person this year, and I’m looking forward to hearing from so many industry professionals. The most exciting part, however, is that I get to have a fun chat with my fellow KIDS FIRST! Film Critics; it’s so rare for all of us to get a chance to sit down, chat and learn from one another. It’s certainly going to be a fun experience, and I encourage everyone to register for our panel!”

VIEW Conference is the premiere international event in Italy on Computer Graphics, Interactive Techniques, Digital Cinema, 2D/3D Animation, VR and AR, Gaming and VFX. VIEW 2021 will continue to focus on exploring the increasingly fluid boundary between real and digital worlds. Through lectures, meetings, tributes, exhibits, screenings and demo presentations VIEW will reveal the new digital frontier sweeping from cinema to architecture, from automotive design to advertisement, from medicine to videogames. The exhibition floor, which houses VR installations and the Recruitment Fair, is free to access.

More to be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChGdAnZQE6UcH_OQ5DNFW_Q

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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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Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! * Funny and Filled with Positive Lessons

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

In GIGANTOSAURUS, four dinosaur pals team up for big adventures around their community as they help others, solve problems, and learn about the mysterious Gigantosaurus that lives among them. Often it’s Mazu’s curiosity that leads the group’s charge, and her friends Tiny, Bill, and Rocky eagerly join in her explorations. Whether it’s returning a lost egg to its herd or saving an insect species from extinction, these dinosaurs never give up on a challenge. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like this DVD because it is very funny and teaches children different morals.  The moral of Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! is about coming together as friends and never give up on any challenge or obstacle that you might find on your path.  These four dinosaur friends defeat every obstacle and challenge without giving up and help their community and other animals in need. Tiana S. adds, “Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! is not my favorite DVD, but I can see how younger kids would love it. It’s not really a show that makes you laugh, but there are lots of lessons that can be learned from each episode. I really love how every character has its own unique personality.” Jolleen M. wraps it up with, “I absolutely love this adorable animated series. It is unlike any other animated series I have seen. The dynamics between all the friends is interesting and it is so pleasing seeing how supportive they are of each other.” See their full reviews below.

Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All!
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I like this DVD because it is very funny and teaches children different morals.  Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! is approximately 90 minutes long and has eight 11 minute episodes including “Giganto’s Laugh,” “Frozen Giganto,” “The Lost Egg,” “The Island,” “The Biggest Hero,” “Treasure!,” “Seeing Stars” and “Dinosia.” 

Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! follows four dinosaur friends – Mazu, Tiny, Bill and Rocky – who team up to help animals in need and to solve their community’s situations or problems.  They also learn about the Gigantosaurus that live among them.  Mazu is the leader of the group and her three friends follow her on different adventures.  The graphics are neat and very colorful.  The landscape is very detailed.  The music is pleasant and appealing in each episode.  The voice-overs match each dinosaur’s personality. 

One of my favorite episodes is “Treasure!”  This episode is about the four dinosaur friends playing on a playground.  Tiny says to get cave moss for Giganto before they leave.  When Rocky gets the cave moss, he falls in some sticky water and Tiny pulls him out.  Tiny notices a little shiny gold pebble.  Mazu takes the gold pebble and brings it home.  Eventually, almost all the dinosaurs are chasing each other for the pebble.  The only one who’s not chasing or fighting over the shiny gold pebble is Giganto.  My other favorite episode is “The Biggest Hero,” because it teaches an important lesson.  This episode is about Rocky and Tiny fighting over who is the best hero.  They compete by solving a ton of problems and trying to help everyone in need.  At the end they are both heroes.

The moral of Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! is about coming together as friends and never give up on any challenge or obstacle that you might find on your path.  These four dinosaur friends defeat every obstacle and challenge without giving up and help their community and other animals in need.

I give the DVE Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18, plus. This DVD is available now so look for it!

Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All!
By Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9 

Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! is not my favorite DVD, but I can see how younger kids would love it. It’s not really a show that makes you laugh, but there are lots of lessons that can be learned from each episode. I really love how every character has its own unique personality.

Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! is an animated show based on the book by the same name by Johnny Duddle. The DVD contains eight episodes about four young dinosaurs that go on many adventures. They all work hard to face their own fears and solve problems together on their journeys. While they are on their quests, their frenemy, Gigantosaurus, who is the largest, fiercest dinosaur of all, makes appearances. Sometimes the friends help him and other times he helps them. The four young dinosaurs learn different things about Gigantosaurus during each adventure. 

The main characters are Tiny (Àine Sunderland), Bill (Nicholas Holmes), Rocky (Dylan Schombing) and Mazu (Nahanni Mitchell), which are all dinosaurs. Even though they are all different species, they still treat each other like brothers and sisters. One of the things I felt lacking is more of the stories are not about Gigantosaurus, which is who the show is named for. I expected Gigantosaurus to be the main character, but he only makes a few appearances in each episode. The other characters talk about him a lot and they learn about him, but the four dinosaur friends are the main characters. My favorite part of each episode is how Tiny, Bill, Rocky and Mazu learn to overcome their fears. You can really see their true friendship whenever any of them needs a little help. They are always there to help each other throughout the day. I also love how they never give up.

The message in the movie is: everyone has a different talent that is useful for different things. You should appreciate others’ differences and believe that their talent has a true purpose. Since this is a kid’s movie, there isn’t much for adults to look out for except parts where kids may imitate bragging and scaring people on purpose.

Gigantosaurus, The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! will have younger kids roaring with laughter. I rate it 4 out of 5 stomps and recommend it for ages 3 to 6. You can find it now on DVD.

Gigantosaurus: The Biggest Dinosaur of All!
By Jolleen Mejia, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I absolutely love this adorable animated series. It is unlike any other animated series I have seen. The dynamics between all the friends is interesting and it is so pleasing seeing how supportive they are of each other.

Gigantosaurus: The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! is centered around four tiny dinosaur friends and their gigantic dinosaur friend, that have a love-hate relationship with. Each of the tiny dinosaurs has a different personality. One is brave, one gets scared but loves food, one’s silly and one is smart. Together they form the perfect team and are able to solve any problem. Their friend Gigantosaurus doesn’t talk, so Gigantosaurus isn’t close with them. Gigantosaurus’ size is beneficial to them because he is protect their herd, but his size can also cause some problems when he walks around. Therefore, the tiny dinosaurs still fear Gigantosaurus and they become cautious whenever he is near.

The voice actors for this series are all ages, to separate the adult dinosaurs from the innocent tiny ones. Even though there is this contrast between the adult voice actors and the younger voice actors, it is hard to tell the difference between the younger voice actors. Even so, the younger voice actors are quite remarkable. They are lively and portray various emotions well.

The animation is pretty detailed and very colorful. It is wonderful to see that the effort put into animating so many different types of dinosaurs, as well as other animals including birds, a rodent and an interesting walking fish. There is a lot of detail in their facial expressions which portray their emotions quite well.

My favorite part of this DVD is that it is so fun and educational. Hidden inside the plot are actual dinosaur facts that kids can learn, which is amazing.

There can be multiple messages in any episode, all of which are extremely valuable. It is great to see how encouraging the dinosaur friends are towards each other, as well as how all the characters are accepted. For example, Gigantosaurus is a large, scary-looking dinosaur, yet he is so caring, protective, and never means any harm. The tiny dinosaur who is considered to be the brave, adventurous one is encouraged by his friends to let out his soft, caring side. Most importantly, this DVD shows kids to look past the stereotypes and accept others, which I love.

Gigantosaurus: The Biggest, Fiercest Dinosaur of All! is a wonderful animated DVD collection which kids will absolutely love and learn a lot from. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 8. It comes out on DVD January 13, 2029, so make sure to pick it up!

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Mary Flynn * Super Star at NCircle Entertainment, 30 Year Veteran of Entertainment Industry

Friday, April 10th, 2020

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mary Flynn, Vice President of Sales, Content and Acquisitions for NCircle Entertainment, who brings over 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry.  “When I started working in the video industry, remote controls were connected by wires to the video players.  Many things have changed since then and being in the industry since it started has been very exciting and rewarding.” 

Mary started her career as a sales person calling on video stores.  The industry has grown from videos to streaming and Mary has been at the forefront of this entertainment evolution. Over the years, Mary was very fortunate to have many opportunities to do different things; sales manager, VP of sales, general manager, just to name a few. 

Before NCircle Entertainment, Flynn was the senior director of business development for Alliance Entertainment, Vice President of Sales for Allumination Filmworks and Vice President of Sales for Apix Entertainment.

In her spare time, Mary enjoys traveling, biking, cooking with her godchildren and adventures with her Dachshund/Papillon dog Wolverine, named by her godson and affectionately called Wolfie.

Founded in 2006, NCircle Entertainment is one of the largest independent distributors of quality children and family entertainment content. NCircle is committed to providing quality children’s entertainment that builds a solid foundation of early learning skills upon which future educational success can be built. NCircle’s award winning brands engage your child in the learning process, using the interdisciplinary STEM approach, teaching reading readiness, science concepts, problem solving tactics, social skills and environmental awareness, while entertaining them with song, dance and laughter. NCircle’s library includes many of the most loved and best-selling children’s brands including The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, Sonic Boom, Gigantosaurus, Llama Llama, The Octonauts, The Floogals, Gumby and many more. 

Interviewed by Nathalia Marie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

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