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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Download the September Coloring Contest

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2020 at 11:42 AM

DREAMSTIME.COM
  • Dreamstime.com
Because the September issue of Kids Vermont is inserted in Seven Days — and only on newsstands for a week — we realize that not everyone may be able to pick up a copy. So this month we're making the coloring contest available as a downloadable PDF so that you can access it at home. Entering the contest this month is simple. Just download the PDF below, print it out and let your kids go to town. Then, scan or take a picture of the entry with your smartphone, and send it via email to art@kidsvt.com. Make sure to include the title of the piece, your child's full name, age and town, and your email address and phone number. You can also send a hard copy of your kiddo's completed coloring contest to Kids Vermont/P.O. Box 1184/Burlington VT, 05402.  We've extended the deadline for September coloring contest entries to Friday, September 18 to give kids more time to complete it. Happy coloring!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Vermont Association for the Blind Raises Funds Through Family-Oriented Scavenger Hunt

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 2:18 PM

A question from the Great Brave Little State Challenge - COURTESY OF VABVI
  • Courtesy of VABVI
  • A question from the Great Brave Little State Challenge
The coronavirus has put a kibosh on most in-person fundraising events, so some organizations are getting creative when it comes to soliciting donations.

The Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a Burlington-based nonprofit, has developed a family-focused scavenger hunt for those who make a donation of $15 or more to the organization. The Great Brave Little State Challenge gives participants the opportunity to discover new things about Vermont through online research, code cracking and exploration, said director of development John Thomas. He said the $15 donation threshold was decided upon because it is less than the price of admission to the Champlain Valley Fair, which was canceled this year.

The 135 questions in the challenge touch on topics including people, places and things of Vermont; nature and the environment; food; the arts; and politics.  Local luminaries including Grace Potter and Sen. Bernie Sanders got involved in its creation by offering questions they thought should be included and, in some cases, filming videos.

Thomas explained that the challenge allows for participants to complete at their own pace, and it's designed so people won't get stuck. It can also be done as a competition between families or classrooms. Visit vabvi.org to get started.

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Monday, August 31, 2020

Forgotten Films: 'Iron Giant'

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2020 at 11:49 AM

© 9DREAMSTUDIO
  • © 9dreamstudio
Filmmaker and animator Brad Bird has been recognized for many of his high-profile movies over the years, including The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. His films have a sense of fun that pays homage to 1950s B movies, while maintaining strong attention to visual detail and incorporating a sense of heart that is missing in many contemporary animated films. While Bird’s aformentioned films are well-known, the first animated feature Bird directed, The Iron Giant, is one of his best. When it was released, it had weaker marketing than most big-budget animated films and was a box-office disappointment. This is a shame. The film is so well-executed that I believe it offers serious competition to the best films from celebrated animation studios Disney, Pixar and Studio Ghibli.

The Story: In the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, a 9-year-old boy named Hogarth Hughes lives with his widowed mother. Hogarth is an intellectually advanced boy with an overzealous imagination and is often bullied by his peers. On a night that will change everything, he discovers a robotic alien that has crash-landed in the woods and appears to be designed as a killing machine. However, through his interactions with Hogarth, the Iron Giant learns peace and friendliness, and the two become fast friends. While everything seems to be looking up for Hogarth, he and the Iron Giant must also avoid the wrath of a government agent who seeks out the destruction of the giant.

Why It’s a Good Family Movie: The Iron Giant’s massive heart shines throughout the film. When making it, Bird asked the question, “What if a gun had a soul, and didn’t want to be a gun?” At one point, the giant even wonders whether he can ever have a soul, as he was a machine built for the purpose of killing. Hogarth tells him, “You’re made of metal, but you have feelings, and you think about things, and that means you have a soul.” The film conveys the important message that you can become the type of person you want to be, rather than what society dictates you should be.

Additionally, the film presents themes that counter xenophobia. Kent Mansley, the government agent, tells Hogarth, “You think this metal man is fun, but who built it? The Russians? The Chinese? The Martians…Canadians? I don’t care! All I know is we didn’t build it, and that’s reason enough to assume the worst, and blow it to kingdom come!” Mansley is set on destroying the Iron Giant, even if it means destruction and violence to America itself. That’s how paranoid the man is. He fears outsiders and, rather than trying to understand them like Hogarth does, he criticizes them with xenophobic stereotypes and has an immediate urge to annihilate them.

Finally, on the technical side, the film combines the hand-drawn animation of old with computer animation of new. This works well, as the computer-animated giant looks more technologically advanced and imposing compared to everything else that is hand-drawn. Furthermore, the film’s animation manages to capture a nostalgic undertone, with its small-town New England vibe and autumn colors. It feels almost as if it’s set in our own Green Mountain State.

Age Recommendation: The movie is mostly tame and inoffensive. In one scene, a deer is shot by hunters, which may be startlingly due to its suddenness and brutality. In the end, things escalate between the military and the giant. They shoot him with military weapons and the giant goes into beast mode, causing explosions that would please Michael Bay. In the end, a nuclear missile is launched, and the Iron Giant sacrifices himself to save the town, which may be disturbing to younger children. I would recommend this film for ages 7 and up.

The Iron Giant is streaming on HBO Max and is available to rent or purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

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Friday, August 21, 2020

Forgotten Films: 'Queen of Katwe'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2020 at 2:14 PM

© ANGELODEVAL | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • © Angelodeval | Dreamstime.com
This week’s featured film is Queen of Katwe, directed by Mira Nair and released in 2016. Although it is a more recent release, it was a box office disappointment and snubbed at awards ceremonies, including the Oscars and Golden Globes. That’s a shame, because the film is incredibly well-directed, acted and written. Additionally, unlike previous films I’ve written about, it’s based on a true story, which may be appealing to families looking for an inspiring tale about a part of the world they may not know much about.

The Story: In an impoverished area of Uganda called Katwe, the recently widowed Nakku Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o) struggles to raise and provide for her multiple children. In Katwe, money is tough to come by for a single mother. One of Harriet’s daughters, 10-year old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga), yearns for a better future, one in which she doesn’t have to sell maize forever. She meets chess teacher Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) and discovers she is chess prodigy. Under Katende’s mentorship, Phiona wins multiple tournaments and earns her way to represent the Uganda team in the Chess Olympiad. With this newfound success comes other concerns, such as financial hardships associated with chess tournaments and Phiona’s developing overconfidence.

Why it’s a Good Family Movie: Queen of Katwe is an inspiring underdog tale with a charming cast. Phiona is not just from the slum, but at the bottom of it, and is constantly ridiculed and underestimated. Even the poor children who are on her chess team initially make fun of her economic standing and criticize her smell. When she gets good enough to play against the city kids, they are bigoted, wiping their hands on the tablecloth after they shake her hand and constantly making rude, condescending remarks throughout the game. Phiona is an inspirational character in the sense that she is able to overcome these hardships and show up the others with chess prowess. In the beginning of the film when she is being taught how to play, a character remarks that the pawn (the little one) is able to become the big one (the queen). While this is in reference to chess, it is also an inspiring message for Phiona — and the source of the clever double meaning in the film’s title.

Queen of Katwe is also a great film in narrating actual events that took place in Africa. The film educates viewers on the struggles people experience in the poorer sections of this country and also showcases Ugandan culture in a respectful, realistic way. Oftentimes Hollywood movies, like The Constant Gardener and Machine Gun Savior, have a “white savior” narrative when depicting African stories. This movie depicts African people as their own heroes, without a single white savior in sight.

Finally, I must praise some of the technical aspects of this film. Mira Nair and the cinematographer, Sean Bobbit, have crafted a very beautiful film. Colors in the film are vivid and impactful. Additionally, the acting is exceptional, with David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o being particular standouts in their roles. Chess can be a boring activity to watch, but Mira Nair has the rare ability to create tension and make the game feel mesmerizing, even to those who aren’t chess buffs.

Age Recommendation: This film is relatively tame in the violence department. Besides a kid getting hit by a motorcycle and the pain and injuries associated with being hit, there’s nothing else that could be considered violent or gory. There are many references to prostitution in the film, with multiple slimy male characters making disturbing references. However, the innuendoes would likely go over younger children’s heads. I would recommend this film for ages 9 and up.

Queen of Katwe is available for streaming on Disney+ and available to rent or purchase on iTunes and Amazon.

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Friday, August 14, 2020

Forgotten Films: 'Chicken Run'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2020 at 4:53 PM

'Chicken Run' - © DREAMWORKS DISTRIBUTION / COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION
  • © DreamWorks Distribution / Courtesy Everett Collection
  • 'Chicken Run'
A few months ago, on the occasion of Chicken Run’s twentieth anniversary, Netflix announced it would be distributing Chicken Run 2, with production beginning next year. I thought it would be fitting this week to revisit the original stop-motion animation film. Chicken Run, released in 2000, was created by Aardman Animations, a British animation studio most notable for its droll Wallace and Gromit franchise. While the hens in Chicken Run are not as well-known as that duo, it’s a well-written film brimming with British humor, exceptional clay models, action-packed animation and imaginative sets.

The Story: In rural England, a farm of chickens produces eggs for the malevolent Mrs. Tweedy. Chickens are expected to fill a daily quota, and those who fail to meet expectations are executed and summarily turned into food. Ginger, one chicken among many, often devises escape plans that are met with fruitless results. As business at the farm suffers, Mrs. Tweedy arranges for her egg farm to manufacture a line of frozen food and begins work on a machine that will turn chickens on the farm into pot pies. As the hens race against time, a rooster named Rocky, who seemingly possesses the ability to fly, shows up — and brings with him a last-ditch possibility of escape.

Why It’s a Good Family Movie: While film cameras can capture motion effortlessly, that’s not the case with Claymation. Each frame is individually shot as a photo, with many photos making up just one second in the film. Furthermore, each frame needs to be meticulously planned so character movement appears natural. Factor in time spent building sets and modeling each character and their expressions, and you’re looking at well over a year in terms of production time for Claymation films. By comparison, an average Hollywood movie takes a few months, while many indie movies shoot in only a few weeks. Chicken Run was shot at 20 frames per second. At a running time of 1 hour and 35 minutes, that's roughly 114,000 photos taken to make the film! Children, or adults, watching this movie may be inspired to create their own shorts after seeing how clay and photography can come together to create a compelling film.

This film also serves as a family-friendly introduction to adult prisoner-of-war-themed films. In fact, it's a spoof of sorts of the 1963 World War II POW movie The Great Escape, directed by John Sturges. Shot from the chickens’ point of view, Chicken Run is a hellscape with chicken coops, watchtowers, and barbed wire hilariously overexaggerated to look like a prisoner’s camp. Dark horizons and farm machines are presented in a surreal, Kafkaesque fashion. From artistic direction alone, you can immediately sympathize with the chicken’s plight and entrapment on the farm. Following a motif of many POW films, the hens band together to overtake a common threat, offering a positive message about teamwork and collaboration.

Age Recommendation: The film features numerous scenes of peril, and Mrs. Tweedy is often seen wielding an axe, which she uses to decapitate chickens. There is one scene in which she succeeds, although it’s done off-screen. Mrs. Tweedy is also constantly beating up her oafish husband, although this comes off as slapstick. One scene features two chickens falling in a pie machine and almost getting diced, sliced and cooked. While no danger befalls them, it’s certainly scary. I would recommend this film for ages 8 and up.

Chicken Run is available for streaming on Hulu and available to rent or purchase on iTunes and Amazon.

Want to experiment with stop-motion with your kids? Try these online resources:
-Tech4Learning: Making Claymation in the Classroom
-TinkerLab: Easy Stop-Motion Animation With Kids
-Lemon Lime Adventures: How to do Stop-Motion Animation With Kids

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Forgotten Films: 'The Fox and the Hound'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 4:29 PM

'The Fox and the Hound' - © 1981 DISNEY
  • © 1981 Disney
  • 'The Fox and the Hound'
This week’s film, The Fox and the Hound (1981), is one of the first movies I watched and my unrivaled favorite among Disney’s massive library of animation classics.

Disney films made in the ’70s and ’80s are often overlooked in favor of classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and The Lion King and more contemporary movies like Frozen. But many of the films made between 1970 and 1988 have creative stories, darker tones and beautiful unrivaled animation. The Fox and the Hound is especially indicative of this era, with a more somber tone, a uniquely allegorical story and detailed animation.

The Story: After losing his mother, a kit fox named Tod is taken in by a rural farmer known as Widow Tweed. Tod’s only neighbor is a gruff hunter named Amos Slade, who also recently adopted a young hound dog called Copper. Tod and Copper become fast friends, even though Copper is being raised to hunt animals, including foxes. As they grow up, the two friends begin to learn that society never wanted them together and discover different loyalties that will cause rifts within their friendship.

Why It’s a Good Family Movie: Disney movies are often tear-jerkers. While the deaths of Mufasa in The Lion King and Bambi’s mother in Bambi are sad moments that come to mind, in my mind, there’s nothing close to the amount of emotional pain Tod endures within this film and the sorrow that it instills within the viewer. Kids, especially those who have lost family members, will be able to sympathize with Tod, and learn from him, too. Despite the tragedy in his life, he always finds positivity.

Additionally, the film touches on the hardships of growing up, and the loss of relationships that come with it. In a gut-wrenching scene Tod has to say goodbye to Widow Tweed, his new parental figure, because he has become too old and thus is too much of a risk living near Slade, a man who hunts foxes. Additionally – spoiler alert — while they mend their friendship, Tod and Copper never become the friends they originally were due to life taking them on separate paths. While the film acknowledges the harsh truth that life may separate you from the friends you grow up with, it reinforces the idea that the bond you create will be important for your whole life. It’s a touching message that will particularly resonate with older kids and older adult viewers who have lost touch with a friend.

Whether through class, cultural, political or any other type of difference, the film is an allegory that society often ruins what could otherwise be great relationships between people. If the characters in the film can get through this unreasonable hatred and learn to accept and appreciate each other in the end, then shouldn’t society at large be able to do that, too?

Finally, the film’s animation is topnotch. The backgrounds are beautifully painted, with gorgeous vistas, wildlife, rolling rivers and waterfalls. The film makes you appreciate the beauty of nature, without having to leave your living rooms. The animals in the film are also expertly drawn, with lifelike mannerisms that could only be achieved by carefully studying real animals. While the titular fox and hound are clearly demonstrative of this, the bear at the end has always struck me as being exceptionally good in the way the animators made it seem so demonic and imposing. Although detailed fur is easier to animate in contemporary computer-animated features, the bear’s fur in this scene is especially fluid and looks insanely realistic for hand-drawn animation.

Age Recommendation: Firearms feature prominently throughout the film. In the beginning, there is a shot off-screen followed by an implied animal death. Amos Slade, the primary antagonist of the movie, constantly shoots his gun at animals, although he has the aim of a Stormtrooper (meaning he never seems to hit his target). One elderly dog is hit by a train and plummets down a steep slope. However, it is later revealed that he just broke his leg. The most concerning scene is a somewhat brutal fight near the end between Tod, Copper, Slade and a bear, which features wounds and gashes. I would recommend this for ages 6 and up.

The Fox and the Hound is available for streaming on Disney+ and available to rent or purchase on iTunes and Amazon.

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Vermont Children's Trust Foundation Announces Alternative Polar Express

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 8:19 AM

Children look out the train window during the Polar Express in 2018 - COURTESY OF VERMONT CHILDREN'S TRUST FOUNDATION
  • Courtesy of Vermont Children's Trust Foundation
  • Children look out the train window during the Polar Express in 2018
The holiday season seems far away, but the Vermont Children's Trust Foundation has already decided to offer an alternative to its annual Polar Express holiday fundraiser, which has been a local family favorite for 18 years. In years past, the event, which is inspired by the 1985 Christopher Van Allsburg picture of the same name, featured a train ride, caroling, a story time and an appearance by Santa.

The elaborate production usually happens several times over the course of two days in December and draws around 3600 passengers. But not this year. Instead, the organization will encourage donors to fund its community-based prevention programs for children and families by offering special DIY Polar Express packages.

Those who donate $100 or more will receive a package that contains everything needed to hold a Polar Express event at home: bells, golden tickets, chocolates, a note from Santa, and a link to an original video of The Polar Express being read aloud.

$150+ donors will receive those things, plus a signed copy of the Van Allsburg picture book and a Polar Express ornament.

Both groups of donors will be put on the advanced ticket list for the 2021 Polar Express.

Last year, the event raised $170,000, one-third of the organization's fundraising budget, according to executive director C. Fagan Hart. In 2019 Country Living magazine named it one of the 15 best Polar Express train rides in the country. 
Author Stephen Kiernan reads 'The Polar Express' to families in 2018 - COURTESY OF VERMONT CHILDREN'S TRUST FOUNDATION
  • Courtesy of Vermont Children's Trust Foundation
  • Author Stephen Kiernan reads 'The Polar Express' to families in 2018


Hart said the decision to cancel the in-person Polar Express was made because the logistical challenges of pulling off a "hugely collaborative event" seemed insurmountable.

These included the feasibility of temperature checks and distancing families on a train and in Union Station. Additionally, the event typically relies on about 700 volunteers, many from school groups, said Hart.

Offering Polar Express-themed packages to donors will allow families to have a special night together at home and, said Hart, "keep the spirit alive until next year when we can ride again."

Donate to Vermont Community Trust Foundation by October 25, 2020 to be eligible for a Polar Express gift package. Find more information here.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Forgotten Films: 'Castle in the Sky'

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2020 at 6:15 PM

Pazu and Sheeta meet  a robot in 'Castle in the Sky' - © 1986 STUDIO GHIBLI
  • © 1986 Studio Ghibli
  • Pazu and Sheeta meet a robot in 'Castle in the Sky'
Coming fresh off of Kiki’s Delivery Service, I thought I’d recommend another whimsical Hayao Miyazaki film that’s often overlooked in favor of his more popular films. Castle in the Sky (1986) is a fantastical adventure film with a steampunk aesthetic that includes classic Miyazaki elements such as environmentalism, breathtaking flying scenes and strong female characters. It’s also a ton of fun to watch, with great set pieces — suspenseful action scenes featuring a unique setting and incredible stunts — scattered across the film.

The Story: Colonel Muska, a foppish government agent, has kidnapped a royal descendant of the Luputan family named Sheeta in hopes of obtaining her amulet. This amulet is actually a compass, which will lead him to an ancient utopian city floating in the sky that he can use to rule over the earth below. Sheeta, who possesses magical powers, befriends a young boy named Pazu, who helps her escape Muska’s clutches. With the aid of some rough-and-tumble pirates, Sheeta and Pazu aim to find this El Dorado-like city before Muska does.
The ancient utopian city in the movie - © 1986 STUDIO GHIBLI
  • © 1986 Studio Ghibli
  • The ancient utopian city in the movie
Why It’s a Good Family Movie: While much of Miyazaki’s later work features more introspective moments that punctuate the action, Castle in the Sky is a rollercoaster movie that features non-stop, rollicking action scenes. It’s an entertaining film that invokes the spirit of adventure found in movies like the Indiana Jones series. The film is filled to the brim with fantastical settings, charming characters and tense moments that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

The film also explores environmental themes. At first glance, it seems to suggest that nature is good and machines are bad. But delve deeper and you’ll find the message that it’s the person behind the machines who determines if they serve an altruistic or evil purpose.

When Pazu and Sheeta first enter Luputa and discover one of its robots (whose design clearly inspired other cinematic automatons, such as Brad Bird’s Iron Giant), it is a peaceful machine that protects animals, such as birds. When Muska wreaks havoc on the abandoned utopia, the machine turns violent. Muska, fueled by greed and power, uses technology for malicious intent, rather than to positively serve mankind. It's a riff on the classic question of whether it was actually Frankenstein’s monster or the society that shaped the monster that was truly at fault.

Miyazaki presents an optimistic angle to his story that warns humans not to give into their evil impulses like greed or power when it comes to technology. Parents can use this film as a springboard to discuss issues like responsible use of technology with their children and climate change.

Additionally, the film doesn’t paint all its villains as black and white. Many of the movie’s characters have an arc in which they realize their wrongdoings by the end of the film, and work with the protagonist to try to rectify their wrongdoings. Dola and her pirates in the film, while at first selfish, greedy and rude, quickly become better people after going on an adventure with Pazu and Sheeta. By the end, they are more compassionate.

Muska never achieves a redeeming moment, but he is a fantastic villain, able to switch from pseudo-friendliness to malicious savageness, depending on the situation. In the Disney English language dub, Muska is played by Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies), who gives a stellar voice performance. If you’re familiar with Hamill’s work as the Joker in the animated Batman series, then you’ll love his work here.

Age Recommendation: Action scenes involve cannons, bullets whizzing by and a fist fight. Some villains fall from great heights and it is inferred they do not survive. Characters make mild threats, such as alluding to hanging a pirate or shooting off a character’s pigtails. I would recommend this movie for ages 7 and up.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Forgotten Films: 'Beetlejuice'

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2020 at 1:10 PM

In East Corinth, a sign marks the site of Beetlejuice's covered bridge scene - JAKE HANLEY
  • Jake Hanley
  • In East Corinth, a sign marks the site of Beetlejuice's covered bridge scene
This week’s film is one that might be a bit edgy for some families but is noteworthy because of its brilliant acting and connection to Vermont. Tim Burton’s 1988 horror-comedy film Beetlejuice takes place in Connecticut but was filmed in rural East Corinth in Orange County, about an hour-and-15-minute drive from Burlington. Last week, I visited this quiet town to check out some of Beetlejuice’s filming locations — more than 30 years after the film was released.

The Story: Young couple Barbara and Adam Maitland are horrified to discover that they have died in an automobile accident. Doomed to haunt their countryside house, they soon discover that an insufferable family, the Deetzes, has moved into their sacred dwelling. With help from the Deetzes' alienated teenage daughter, Lydia, the Maitlands scheme ways to drive out the family from the house so they can rest in peace. When their scaring tactics fail, the Maitlands decide to enlist the help of a mischievous ghoul known as Betelgeuse, whose ulterior motives prove to be more sinister than the couple initially perceived.

Why It’s a Good Family Movie: Beetlejuice’s premise suggests horror, but instead it’s a goofy family movie that lampoons the haunted house scenario rather than embracing it whole-heartedly. Almost all the characters, with the exception of maybe the Maitlands, are silly and act more like caricatures played for laughs.
Additionally, the acting is fantastic and features a cast of well-established actors still working today, including Winona Rider, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. However, the standout performance is clearly Michael Keaton — whose zany energy and intensely committed performance makes for an absurd and entertaining experience.

While this character may be outdated (more on that below), there’s no denying Keaton’s brilliance, as displayed by the sheer uniqueness and over-the-top psychosis he brings to Betelgeuse. His overacting is an homage to German Expressionism, an art movement of the early 20th century notable for its idiosyncratic and abstract staging, makeup and cinematography. Much of Burton’s directorial work is influenced by this artistic style.

While interior shots were filmed on a set in California, the exterior shots were all filmed in Vermont. The film’s haunted house was built as a façade for the film, then destroyed shortly after filming, thus nothing remains but a vacant hill. But the photos below show  two remaining locations from the film. Timestamps are included so you can compare how they appeared in the film versus what they look like now:
The “Covered” Bridge; Timestamp: 0:07:30. Production constructed a now-removed crimson wooden cover that the Maitlands' car crashed through - JAKE HANLEY
  • Jake Hanley
  • The “Covered” Bridge; Timestamp: 0:07:30. Production constructed a now-removed crimson wooden cover that the Maitlands' car crashed through
Miss Shannon’s School for Girls; Timestamp 1:24:52. While portrayed as a schoolhouse in the film, it is actually the still-utilized East Corinth Masonic Lodge - JAKE HANLEY
  • Jake Hanley
  • Miss Shannon’s School for Girls; Timestamp 1:24:52. While portrayed as a schoolhouse in the film, it is actually the still-utilized East Corinth Masonic Lodge

Age Recommendation: While Beetlejuice is rated PG, its title character hasn’t aged well enough to adhere to this rating. He’s constantly making uncomfortable sexual jokes and rude gestures. Parents might consider using these scenes as an opportunity to talk to their kids about misogyny and objectification of women in older films.

There is some swearing and a few mild sexual innuendos. The violence is relatively tame and mostly played as slapstick, rather than being malicious. Some creature effects may be considered a little scary for very young children. Ryder’s character contemplates suicide, as she falsely believes ghosts have a more enjoyable life than the living. I’d recommend this film for ages 12 and up.

Beetlejuice is available to rent on Amazon and iTunes.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Full Circle Theater Collaborative Teaches Social Justice Through Theater

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 11:36 AM

Cole Gilder performers with Vermont Stage's Youth Company - BEN HUDSON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Ben Hudson Photography
  • Cole Gilder performers with Vermont Stage's Youth Company
A seasoned group of local arts educators have joined forces to launch Full Circle Theater Collaborative, a theater program with a focus on social justice. Gina Fearn, Amy Riley, Danielle Sertz and Ryan Addario previously worked together through Vermont Stage and FlynnArts, and have all directed performances at local schools.

"The name Full Circle comes from our mission to foster the connection between theatrical stories and the human experience," explained Riley. "Theater has the power to hold a mirror up to life, bringing stories full circle."

The group's first offering is an Activism Through Art intensive with local poet, teaching artist and racial justice activist Rajnii Eddins. The program, which runs from July 25 to August 2, consists of hour-and-a-half-long meetings via Zoom for two age groups: 10-14 and 15-19. The cost is $300, and scholarships and payment plans are available.

During the intensive, students will create an original piece — a poem, song, monologue, scene or dance —  with a focus on seeking justice and developing their identity as anti-racist citizens. Guest artists will offer workshops on topics ranging from advocating for change to conveying emotion through voice and physicality.

Full Circle Theater Collaborative will offer youth programming in the fall and may also offer adult classes, said Riley.

In the spring, Riley ran virtual programs through Vermont Stage Youth Company and the Vermont Young Playwright. "We have found that, while there is no substitution for gathering or having an in-person theatrical experience, there is a vast amount of learning that can happen when you look at the process of storytelling," she said of those experiences. "As this program is small and nimble, we hope to keep the connection and community of passionate art students growing while we all await the guidelines on gathering in person."

Find more information at fullcircletheater.com.

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