Call out to JET alums for submissions to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival

James Kennedy (Nara-ken, 2004-06), author of the acclaimed young adult novel The Order of Odd-Fish, will be curating the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival with the New York Public Library around November 5 and with the Harold Washington Library in Chicago around November 16. And he has a special request for JET alumni who are into film making:

There are some Newberry award winners that are about Japan and the Japanese, and nobody has done a 90-Second Newbery film of them yet!

Off the top of my head, I can think of:

(1) Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, which is about John Manjiro (2011 Honor Winner)

(2) Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata, which is about WWII Japanese-American experience (2005 Medal Winner).

(3) Commodore Perry In the Land of the Shogun by Rhoda Blumberg. (1986 Honor Winner)

So, as for JET alumni:

(1) I’d love to put the call out to the JET alumni community, which surely must include filmmakers, to make 90-second films based on those books for the film festival. (It would be even better if they were totally in Japanese, with subtitles!)

(2) The film festival at the NYPL on November 5 will be not only films, but also live acts between the films — a kind of cabaret atmosphere — live 90-second Newbery reenactments, or songs, etc. So this is also a call out to any arts groups / comedy teams / bands / etc. who would be interested in doing something as a between-film live segment for the 90-Second Newbery film festival?

Here’s a little more info from James about the 90-Second Newbery Festival:

I’m doing this film festival in conjunction with the New York Public Library and the Chicago Public Library. Participants (of any age) are challenged to make a video that compresses the entire story of a Newbery award winning book into 90 seconds or less (no book trailers!) To check out the pretty funny inaugural entry — a 90-second Wrinkle in Time — and read the contest rules, click here:

  • On November 5, with children’s author Jon Scieszka, I’m co-hosting the “90-Second Newbery Film Festival” at the New York Public Library main branch, screening the best entries.
  • On November 16, I’m hosting the same film festival at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.

This is a great opportunity to get kids reading, thinking and discussing Newbery award-winning books. Figuring out how to communicate important plot and character points in 90 seconds is a real challenge, as well as learning how to shoot, edit, do sound design, engineer special effects, and wrap up a video project. An eye-opening experience for budding young directors!

Even though the deadline is October 17, I’ve already received some smashing entries:

+ A 90-second version of Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by home-schooled kids in Michigan — made entirely with shadow puppets!

+ Or how about a full-scale musical of The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Dubois?

+ Let’s not forget this silent-movie version of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book!

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