Grant #326

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival

December 24, 2018

Kids Turn Award-Winning Books Into Mini Movies AND THEY’RE AWESOME

You’re gonna love this bonkers creative combo platter of kids, literature, cinema, a touring film festival, and rave reviews managed by the magical James Kennedy.

Have you ever heard of the Newbery Medal? (That’s one “r” if you’re paying close attention.) It’s the highest honor in children’s literature. Every year, hundreds of kids submit their very short video version of a Newbery winner for consideration to be included in the annual 90 Second Newbery Film Festival, a touring exhibition of the best mini-versions of the medal winning books.

When it started seven years ago, the festival only played three cities, and in 2019 screenings will be held in New York, Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Tacoma, and many more.

James teaches book-to-movie workshops at libraries and schools to help students translate the entire story of a book into a minute and a half, and the festival’s website has a series of FREE online crash courses. The enterprise depends on donated space and volunteer time, and James often ends up subsidizing some of the moviemaking costs himself (which happens to producers of major motion pictures, too).

We love every bit of this, from James’s passion for this work, to the movies themselves, to the pipeline of future Ava DuVernays. Hurry, though: The national deadline for the 8th Annual 90-Second Newbery is January 11. (Boston-area filmmakers have a special extended deadline of April 1.) See you kids at Sundance 2025?

Follow along with the Festival on Facebook and Twitter.

Category: Children, Film, Writing, Youth



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders