Asheville’s 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is accepting entries through February 14. This annual event invites filmmakers under the age of 21 to create 90-second films based on books that have won the American Library Association’s Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award given in children’s literature. The Asheville Festival and Screening will be held on Saturday, April 14, from 1–3 p.m. at Pack Memorial Library.
Elliot Weiner, organizer for the local event, moved to Asheville four years ago, and, surprised that the area did not have a Newbery Festival, decided to start one last year. “And, lo and behold,” he says, “it caught on and was a great first year.” Support has come from Pack Memorial Library, Asheville Community Theatre, Spellbound Children’s Bookshop, Awesome Asheville Foundation and author James Kennedy, who founded the national festival in 2012.
Last year’s Asheville festival screened 13 films and was attended by 176 people. Among the entries were movies based on Mr. Popper’s Penguins and My Father’s Dragon.
Colette Russ was one of the young filmmakers inspired to participate in the inaugural festival. “I really liked the book El Deafo,” she says, “and when I heard about the 90-Second Newbery Festival, I thought it was something I could film.” Russ used stuffed bunnies for her production. “The best part of filmmaking is watching the finished product,” she says.
The festival is not a competition. “Every student involved gets a little ‘Oscar’ statue with the date and Newbery Festival information on it,” Weiner says. “It’s all about creativity and having fun.”