Lights, camera, action! You’re invited to the Capital City for a day of short-form films created by some of the region’s talented young filmmakers.

On Sunday, April 16th, the inaugural 90 Second Newbery Award Film Festival will kick off in the heart of Trenton. This event will begin at 3:00 pm at the New Jersey State Museum auditorium at 205 W State St, Trenton, NJ 08608. This event is entirely free to attend. Filmmakers, family, friends, and cinema enthusiasts are invited to participate in this innovative festival. Parking will be available in the lots adjacent to the State Museum; free street parking is also available during the weekend. The New Jersey State Library sponsors the festival.

The inaugural event is hosted by author and founder James Kennedy, best known for “The Order of Odd-Fish.” In addition, the festival will be co-hosted by Chris Grabenstein, author of “Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library,” “The Smartest Kid in the Universe,” “Dog Squad,” “Shine!”, and more. During the event, guests can meet and receive autographs from these two celebrated authors.

The 90 Second Newberry Award Film Festival invites young filmmakers to create 90-second films about Newberry-winning books. Filmmakers are invited to add creative twists to the story and transform these classic tales into a brand new take. For example, young filmmakers have reworked “Charlotte’s Web” as a horror movie or transformed “Bridge to Terabithia” into a stop-motion masterpiece. Ultimately, the festival hopes to inspire and uplift young filmmakers in the following ways:

  • Get children interested in reading and discussing Newberry books
  • Encourage close reading to develop the 90-second script
  • Encourage participants to utilize new technologies such as film equipment and editing software
  • Offer students public praise and encouragement by reviewing all films submitted on the 90-Second Newberry Award Film Festival website
  • Sponsor screening events to celebrate the young filmmaker’s achievements

Per Erika Siskind, a children’s librarian at the Oakland Public Library, “Hosting a 90-Second Newbery film-making workshop was amazing! James taught the participants how to distill essential elements to briefly describe a novel or non-fiction book, basic film-making techniques like storyboarding & transitions, and setting up key shots. I also observed the participants figuring out how to collaborate, resolve differences, and draw on each other’s creative strengths. It was an inspiring and productive day!”

The festival hosts screenings throughout the country, giving young filmmakers far and near the opportunity to see their movie magic on display. Since its founding, these festivals have boasted 11,000 attendees, highlighted 155 books, and received submissions from 37 states and Washington, D.C. These festivals offer children an excellent opportunity to get creative, bring beloved works of literature to life, and receive meaningful feedback and encouragement for their on-screen endeavors. If you’d like to read more about the program and view some previous year’s films, you can check out their website here: Home – 90-Second Newberry Fest.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Sharon Rawlins of the New Jersey State Library at Don’t miss the chance to see classic literature come to life through the eyes of the community’s youngest filmmakers; plan to attend today!

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