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

Archive for May, 2012

Half a Billion Markers!

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

That’s how many plastic markers Crayola makes every year — enough to circle the earth three times! And since Crayola has no recycling program for used markers, many of those markers end up in landfills, or even worse, the ocean.

Elementary school kids take action. Land Wilson is a volunteer who works with the “Kids That Care” club at Sun Valley Elementary School in California. The kids were horrified to learn that their beloved Crayola markers could end up as trash in the ocean, killing wildlife like fish, sea turtles and marine birds.

You can help. Land and the kids started a petition on Change.org asking Crayola to start a program for consumers to recycle their markers. The kids believe that if thousands of people sign their petition, Crayola will let consumers make sure their markers end up in recycling bins, not oceans or landfills.

Click here to sign the kids’ petition asking Crayola to implement a consumer recycling program.

Here’s a lot more information about Land and the kids’ campaign, in their own words:

Every year, Crayola makes about half a billion markers — enough markers to wrap around the earth more than three times! — and sells them all around the world. Millions of kids use and love Crayola products — including the students at Sun Valley School, where I volunteer. That’s why we’re asking Crayola to make sure these markers don’t end up in our landfills, incinerators and oceans.

“I love your markers, but I’d like to tell you it’s polluting. So can I please send some of your markers back? I love your product, but hate pollution,” Zachary, age 9.

Around the world, people are starting to realize the massive problem of discarded plastics. It’s not only a waste of resources — it is detrimental to our well being. Plastics, which escape into the ocean, are entering our food chain as they are weathered and broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. By establishing a take-back program for their plastic markers, Crayola can stop millions of markers from becoming pollution and waste.

“I want to let you know that I am not a useless little kid. I can make a difference! By telling you to recycle your pens,” Dante, age 11.

“Will we ever be able to fix the hole in the ozone layer? I don’t like pollution because it hurts the Earth,” Georgia, age 7.

“If we all came from the Earth… Then why are we hurting it so much? Earth is all we have left,” Olivia, age 8.

We want Crayola to “make their mark” by starting a “take-back” recycling program for their markers. If Crayola can do it, we know other companies will follow. Crayola can be a leader for the environment.


Mr. Land and his “Kids That Care” from Sun Valley School

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Seeking partners for showcasing our films

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Do you show films? Are you looking for films to screen for your youth audiences? Then, we may be the perfect source for you. KIDS FIRST! is looking for partners to screen our films, made for and by kids, that have been accepted for our traveling children’s film festival.

As our KIDS FIRST! Film Festival celebrates its 13th year, we are looking for new partners who would appreciate the wonderful diversity of programming that we have to offer. We offer films from studios, indie filmmakers and student filmmakers that have been though our selection process and we consider “best” to offer to the 100+ venues nation and world wide who affiliate themselves with us! Over the past 13 years, our affiliates include established film festivals and film societies, community centers, libraries, children’s hospitals and boat shows! Yup, a pretty diverse group. We help program for events that bring in tens of thousands of people and events that show films to intimate groups of 20.

Whether you have partnered with us in the past or are brand new to this type of event, we are a great resource for you because we have one of the best collections of films for a youth audience ages 2 to 15. And, it’s easy!. We have made some significant changes over the last year to make the selection and screening process so much simpler.

Most of our short films can be screened, in their entirety, on our vimeo site: http://shorts.kidsfirstmedia.com/ For longer films, you may watch the trailers at  http://vimeo.com/groups/kidsfirsttrailers. For the longer films, we ship screeners to you.

For the short films, once you select which ones you wish to screen, you may download them to your computer or flash drive for exhibition, provided that your annual membership ($100) is up to date and you notify us of times and dates for your  screenings.

Our annual membership is $100/ year, and for this you may screen as many films as you wish, year round. Go to http://bit.ly/IIOByv to download our application.

All the festivals we have worked with recently love this new process, as does our staff since it eliminates a lot of shipping and reduced the time involved.

Last, if you have not watched our youth film critics reviews yet, let me encourage you to do so. We are now into the 2nd year of this program with 16 youth film critics ages 7 to 15 who won a spot through a national competition held every fall. The kids are quite wonderful. All are film buffs in their own right and all, youngest to oldest, are quite articulate and thoughtful in reviewing the films they are assigned. Please take a look at our homepage where they are features. www.kidsfirst.org

That’s it for now. Lauren and I look forward to working with you. Please let us know if there’s anything we can help you with. Call our office at 505-989-8076. We’re in the mountain time zone and are here M-F, 9-5.
Granny Ranny

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$10,000 Earmarked for New Filmmakers in Focus Features’ Africa First Program

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Celebrating its fifth year, Focus Features’ Africa First Program will accept entries beginning this Monday, May 14th and continuing through Monday, August 20th.

The uniquely conceived initiative, with funds earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, is for the fifth consecutive year offering eligible and participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production, and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa and tapping into the resources of the film industry there. The program also brings the filmmakers together with each other and with a renowned group of advisors, major figures in the African film world, for support and mentorship. Past short films to come out of the Program have been showcased at the Sundance, Toronto, London, and Berlin Film Festivals; on The Africa Channel; and with the Museum of the Moving Image and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, among other venues worldwide. A compilation of films completed through the Program is available on DVD and across VOD and EST platforms. Complete details on Africa First – including application information – can be accessed year-round through www.focusfeatures.com/africafirst.

Africa First is supervised by Program Director and producer Kisha Cameron Dingle (…Sometimes in April), whose company, Completion Films, has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus, and who coordinates the Program’s submissions and evaluations with Focus director of development & production Christopher Kopp. In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers of Africa First will visit New York City in the fall of 2012 for a weekend of one-on-one workshop discussions with each other; members of the advisory board of experts in African cinema; such Focus executives as Mr. Schamus and president of production Jeb Brody, covering topics like international distribution and the economics of studio financing; and Mrs. Dingle and Mr. Kopp.

Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today, adding, “In celebrating the fifth anniversary of Africa First this year, we are also celebrating the dynamic and talented group of filmmakers we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with during the Program’s tenure. The kudos and acclaim their films have generated around the world is gratifying, and we look forward to working with them again.”

The submissions period begins on Monday, May 14th, 2012 and runs through Monday, August 20th, 2012. The five filmmakers selected will be notified by October 2012 and will retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.

Completion is developing feature, documentary, and television projects. Its president, Mrs. Dingle, previously worked as director of development at Walden Media, and as an executive at New Line Cinema, where she oversaw the development and production of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.

The Africa First advisory board members are Ms. Mahen Bonetti, founder and executive director of the African Film Festival; journalist and documentary filmmaker Ms. Jihan El-Tahiri; Ms. June Givanni, who for four years programmed the Toronto International Film Festival’s Planet Africa series; Ms. Sharifa Johka, film programmer and independent producer; Mr. Pedro Pimenta, producer and manager of training programs throughout South Africa; and Mr. Keith Shiri, founder/director of the Africa at the Pictures film festival in the U.K.

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Moonrise Kingdom, world-premiering as the opening-night film of the 2012 Cannes International Film Festival, the new feature from Wes Anderson, starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman; Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley; Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, the new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA; Jamie Travis’ contemporary comedy For a Good Time, Call…, starring Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller; Closed Circuit, the suspense thriller directed by John Crowley and starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall; Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land, the contemporary drama written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski; the historical tale Hyde Park on Hudson, directed by Roger Michell and starring Academy Award nominees Bill Murray and Laura Linney; and Joe Wright’s epic love story Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Johnson.

Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.


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