Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for April, 2012

Flicka Country Pride – Heartwarming and Inspiring

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Three of our youth film critics reviewed this film, which releases this week at WalMart and Sam’s Club. All loved it, particularly the horse lovers. Casey Chandler (age 10), one of our KIDS FIRST! film critics is also a horse owner. Here’s what she has to say about this film:

Flicka, Country Pride, is a heartwarming story about a girl who finds courage and determination to make her dreams come true.  This inspiring story is sure to touch the hearts of all you horse lovers out there!

The third in the series of Flicka movies, originally inspired by the classic novel by Mary O’hara, Flicka is based upon a beautiful mustang horse said to have a heart so bold, she can win a restless spirit.  In this movie, the “restless spirit”  is a girl named Kelly, played by KaceyRohl.

As a horse lover and owner, I have to admit that horse movies usually win me over.  There is such an amazing connection between riders and horses and I think that the Director, Michael Damien, once again, succeeds in showing us how truly magical that connection is between Flicka and Kelly.

The story begins when Toby (Clint Black) takes a temporary job at the Cherry Creek Stable with several horses, including Flicka in tow.  Lindy’s teenage daughter, Kelly, instantly connects with Flicka.  The spirited black mare helps Kelly get through her day of chores, school and thinking about her deceased father.  She no longer competes as a three day eventer and to make matters worse, she is pushed aside by her snobby ex-best friend.  Life is complicated for Kelly and she cannot seem to stand up for herself until Flicka comes along.  Flicka not only inspires Kelly to compete but also helps her find new and old relationships.

The movie was filmed in Kelowna, British Columbia with a storybook farm setting and countryside.   One of my favorite characters is Toby.  He became a strong link between the family’s tragic past and future filled with possibilities. Although the story was very predictable, it is hard to not enjoy the classic theme based on working hard and achieving your dreams!

I enjoyed this movie for its great cinematography and main characters.  Although the story could have been a bit stronger, I give it a 3 ½ out of 5 stars.  The movie is best enjoyed by pre teen and early teens

This is Casey Chandler reporting for KIDS FIRST!

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Should You Allow Your Kid to See The Hunger Games?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

If you haven’t seen this film yet and are still trying to decide whether or not to allow your child to go, here’s some help to make that decision. This highly anticipated film, based on the best-selling book that has been hugely popular with tweens is rated PG-13 for good reason – violence. If you are unfamiliar with the book, you might want to know that the storyline involves teens fighting one another “to the death.” The film portrays this pretty graphically, albeit with relatively short scenes. Beyond the violence factor, the film does offer some very thought-provoking concepts about reality TV, totalitarian government and violence as entertainment. Katniss, the protagonist, portrays a strong female role model who volunteers to fight in order to protect her younger sister shows great strength of character. Remember, the PG-13 rating does mean “Parental Guidance for kids 13 and under.” It’s up to you to decide whether or not you think this is right for your child. To help you decide, I want to share reviews by three of our youth film critics, Julianna Noone (12), Raven Devanney (14) and Anthony Aranda (9). Below are Julianna’s comments followed by links to video reviews by all three.

OMG, the Hunger Games is a MUST SEE! Adapted from the first of three novels, written by Suzanne Collins and directed by Gary Ross, this film brought such an adrenaline rush of excitement that I couldn’t sit still watching it. It takes place in the not too distant future, where North America has been replaced by Panem, where there is a Capitol and 12 Districts. The movie is about the struggles of a nation divided, where the districts must fight for survival and where the Capitol controls all of the districts. Each of the 12 districts must have one boy and one girl enter the “Hunger Games”, where they represent their District in a battle for their life, while their citizens watch the action live as it happens. Twenty-four entrants, but only one will survive. It’s reality TV at its absolute worst.

The main characters that we learn most about are Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, X-Men: First Class) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island), who are from District 12, the poorest of the 12 districts. They are also my favorite characters. I like Peeta, because he is the underdog of all underdogs, and he wanted to stay true to himself and not let the games change him in any way. I love Kat, because she is a great role model for young girls like me. She is smart and courageous and she is always looking out for those who need her. She shows that just because you may not be the richest, or best looking, or most liked person, if you have the will and fight to survive, you can overcome any obstacle.

I loved this movie so much. It’s hard to pinpoint any one scene I like the most. The scenes leading up to game really set the tone of the movie. Then you have the training scenes, which too are very well done. I would say the scenes during the actual Hunger Games are my favorite, as that is where the most action occurs. The way the Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley, Gone) controls the Games using hi-tech computer technology, was fantastic. This movie had me on the edge of my seat and had my emotions all over the place. The cinematography in the Capitol and the arena was amazing. One of the best special effects was how they made it look like Kat and Peeta were on fire as they entered the arena, and then later in the interview, they again made it appear that Kat’s dress was on fire when she spun around for the crowd.

While the movie contains some graphic violence, it is necessary to stay true to the storyline. It is certainly no worse than a lot of video games that kids play today, it’s just difficult to watch kids killing other kids. For me, I not only want to see the film again, but I started reading the books as well, so I can compare them when the next film is released. I think this movie is appropriate for ages 11 and up, though you should know that it may not be appropriate for some younger kids. The few instances of violence are intense and graphic, but they are short lived. I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars, but only because I can’t give it more than that. Even my dad stayed awake throughout the whole movie and that never happens! This has been a review from Julianna Noone, reporting for KIDS FIRST! “May the odds be ever in your favor!”

See Julianna’s video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHyKC-RSNnw

See Raven (14)’s video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuSNvlEt5og

See Anthony (9)’s video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acTAvDc5_AE

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Future of Broadcast Television Initiative Launched

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Technical executives from 13 television broadcast organizations from around the world today completed signing a landmark memorandum of understanding (MOU) to officially form the global Future of Broadcast Television (FOBTV) Initiative. Announced during a well-attended general session at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, the MOU builds on the Future of Broadcast TV Summit held in Shanghai, China, in November 2011, where world broadcasting leaders established a framework for cooperation to chart the future course of terrestrial television broadcasting.

The signatories of the FOBTV MOU believe that terrestrial broadcasting is uniquely important because it is wireless (supports receivers that can move), infinitely scalable (point-to-multipoint and one-to-many architecture), local (capable of delivering geographically local content), timely (provides real time and non-real time delivery of content) and flexible (supports free-to-air and subscription services). The attribute of wireless delivery of media content to a potentially unlimited number of receivers
makes terrestrial broadcasting a vital technology all over the world. Broadcasting is, in fact, the most spectrum-efficient wireless delivery means for popular real-time and file-based media content, according to the MOU. The MOU underscores the goals of the FOBTV Initiative, which include:

• Developing future ecosystem models for terrestrial broadcasting taking into account business, regulatory and technical environments,
• Developing requirements for next generation terrestrial broadcast systems,
• Fostering collaboration of Digital TV development laboratories,
• Recommending major technologies to be used as the basis for new standards, and
• Requesting standardization of selected technologies (layers) by appropriate standards development organizations

FOBTV is a voluntary, non-profit association that is open to any organization that signs the MOU. FOBTV is now forming a Management Committee that will include representatives of the founding members. FOBTV also will have a Technical Committee that will be responsible for solicitation and evaluation of technical proposals and recommending major technologies to be used as the basis for new standards. Participation in the work of FOBTV Technical 2 Committee will be open to all MOU-signatory organizations that have a direct and material interest in the work of FOBTV.

The complete MOU – signed by technical executives of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC), Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB), European Broadcast Union (EBU), Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), Globo TV-Brazil, IEEE Broadcast Technology Society (IEEE-BTS), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), National Engineering Research Center of Digital TV of China (NERC-DTV), NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories (NHK), Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the Brazilian Society of Television Engineers (SET) – is available at: http://tinyurl.com/FOBTVMOUApril2012

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The Muppets Named New York City’s Family Ambassadors

Friday, April 13th, 2012

How cute is this? The Muppets were today named New York City Family Ambassadors by NYC & Company, New York City’s tourism and marketing organization. As part of the year-long collaboration, the Muppets will encourage family travel to New York by highlighting the best ways for families to experience and enjoy the many dining and shopping venues, cultural institutions, parks and attractions across the five boroughs.

“I’ve loved New York ever since I arrived in New York harbor and saw that the Statue of Liberty is green. What a welcome! New York is a great place for families, frogs, pigs, bears and…uh, whatevers to visit. We can’t wait to show the world the best ways to hop around the city!” said Kermit the Frog, the world’s most famous amphibian.

Added Miss Piggy, “New York is the most fabulous city in the world. In fact, it’s almost as fabulous as moi. So don’t just sit there! Get ready world! You’re about to take the ultimate diva’s tour of moi’s favorite city! Lucky vous!”

The Muppets will also encourage locals to explore different neighborhoods across New York City by highlighting family-friendly things to do, see, and visit. The Muppets will share their personal City preferences at www.nycgo.com/family where Miss Piggy will discuss shopping, Kermit will help visitors navigate the five boroughs, Swedish Chef will focus on cuisine and more.

“We could not imagine better NYC Family Ambassadors than the lovable and enchanting Muppets,” said George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company. “Appealing to fans of all ages across the globe, the Muppets will highlight what they love about the five boroughs and illustrate why New York City is the perfect place for families to visit this year.”

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MacGillivray. Cameron. Spielberg. Who will be the next filmmaker to join their ranks?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

That’s right! One World One Ocean is looking for the next up-and-coming filmmaker as part of our World Oceans Day Video Contest – open to all ocean enthusiasts grades 7-12. Create a 1-minute video telling us why the ocean is important and you could win $500 and a GoPro camera!

Video submissions are due by May 4, so start shooting! Prizes will be awarded to one grand prize winneras well as to winners in three sub-categories: Best Humorous Video, Best Music Video and Best Video from a Non-Coastal City. Click here for contest guidelines.

All submissions will be judged by Oscar-nominated filmmaker and OWOO founder Greg MacGillivray! The top 10 videos will then be posted on OWOO’s website on May 18 where we will ask the public to vote for their favorite. Winning videos will be announced on June 8 as part of our World Oceans Day celebration.

At One World One Ocean, we believe that great storytelling can change the world. So join us in being the ocean’s storyteller, share YOUR story and help us spark a movement to protect the blue planet.

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Friday, April 6th, 2012

The Weinstein Company (TWC), aided by the guidance and consultation from attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, announced today that the MPAA has lowered the R rating, given for some language, for BULLY to a PG-13 in time for the film’s April 13th expansion to 55 markets. The scene that has been at the forefront of the battle with the MPAA, the intense scene in the film that shows teen Alex Libby being bullied and harassed on a bus, has been left fully intact and unedited. BULLY director Lee Hirsch felt editing the scene was not an option, and subsequently refused to do so, since it is too important to the truth and integrity behind the film. Also a victory is the exception the MPAA made by allowing the film to be released with the new rating before 90 days, which is the length of time their policy states a film must wait to be in theaters after a rating change to avoid confusion or inconvenience for moviegoers.

This decision by the MPAA is a huge victory for the parents, educators, lawmakers, and most importantly, children, everywhere who have been fighting for months for the appropriate PG-13 rating without cutting some of the most sensitive moments. Three uses of the ‘F word’ were removed from other scenes, which ultimately persuaded the MPAA to lower the rating. Hirsch made the documentary with the intent to give an uncensored, real-life portrayal of what 13 million children suffer through every year.

The new rating, which came about with the great support from MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, grants the schools, organizations and cities all around the country who are lined up and ready to screen BULLY, including the National Education Association and the Cincinnati School District, the opportunity to share this educational tool with their children.

“Senator Dodd is a hero for championing this cause, and the MPAA showed great courage by not cutting the scene everyone has been fighting to keep,” said TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein. “Senator Dodd’s support gives voice to the millions of children who suffer from bullying, and on behalf of TWC, the filmmakers, the families in the film and the millions of children and parents who will now see this film, I thank him for recognizing that this very real issue cannot afford to go unnoticed.”

“I feel completely vindicated with this resolution,” said Hirsch. “While I retain my belief that PG-13 has always been the appropriate rating for this film, as reinforced by Canada’s rating of a PG, we have today scored a victory from the MPAA. The support and guidance we have received throughout this process has been incredible, from the more than half a million people who signed Katy Butler’s petition, to members of Congress, Governor Mike Huckabee and the many celebrities and others who raised their voices to express deeply felt support for a film that can inspire millions. The scene that mattered remains untouched and intact, which is a true sign that we have won this battle. With an array of great partners, a fabulous educator’s guide and extensive online tools, we can now bring this film unhindered, to youth and adults across our country.”

Building support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act is the next step in this movement for change. Already a meeting has been set with Senator Bob Casey to discuss how he can help. Lawmakers and politicians are being sought out to back the efforts of anti-bullying supporters everywhere in creating legislation that will comprehensively address the issues of bullying and harassment.

“If we can’t get the Safe Schools Improvement Act passed, we’ll be visiting the home states of each lawmaker until it does,” said Katy Butler, the 17 year old Michigan high school student who rallied petitioners on Change.org to urge the MPAA to lower BULLY’s rating. “On behalf of the more than half a million supporters who joined me on Change.org in petitioning the MPAA, I want to express how grateful I am not only to the MPAA for lowering the rating without cutting a vital scene, but to all of the people who used their voices to put a national spotlight on this movie and its mission.”

For the hundreds of organizations and individuals partnering with the film, the rating news means more screenings for more children. Said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, “The changing of the rating for BULLY from R to PG-13 will enable many more young people to see this film. NEA applauds the Motion Picture Association of America and the producers for the PG-13 rating. Every teenage student should have the opportunity to see this powerful documentary about a problem that still haunts our schools. NEA also salutes 17-year-old Katy Butler and the other young activists whose online petition drive led to having the rating for BULLY reconsidered.”

After Weinstein’s and BULLY teen Alex Libby’s appeal in February to the MPAA for a PG-13 rating was denied by one vote, TWC and Hirsch chose to move forward with releasing the film unrated last weekend allowing theaters the chance to use their discretion when admitting children to the theater. BULLY leads all non-fiction films so far for 2012 with its strong opening weekend attendance.

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