CLEVELAND, Ohio – Voting for the Kids Film It Festival’s People Choice Award — aka, “The Nikki” — is now open.
The fourth annual Kids Film It Festival, which celebrates original films created by young filmmakers ages 8 to 18, will take place on Feb. 21 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Kid competitors enter films in three general categories (short film, animation and music video) across three age groups (8-11, 12-14 and 15-18). Cash prizes are awarded in the general categories, with winners determined by a panel of judges that includes “Avengers: Endgame” directors Joe and Anthony Russo. This year, 140 films were submitted to the general competition categories of the festival.
The festival nominated 14 of those films this year to compete in the Nikki Delamotte People’s Choice Award, or “The Nikki” for short. The award is offered in the same three age categories and is determined by an online fan vote (see below).
It is named after cleveland.com life & culture reporter Nikki Delamotte, who was killed in November 2018. Delamotte had previously written about the Kids Film It Festival and was passionate about working with young creatives.
“She helped start the festival and get it off the ground. We just wanted to honor her. She meant so much to us,” said festival founder Ryan Levine. “Even though Nikki can’t be a part of this anymore, this is our way of repaying her and keeping her memory.”
The 2020 festival will feature a red carpet with plenty of photo opportunities for young filmmakers to enjoy within the Rock Hall. Past years have sold out quickly, and organizers suggest purchasing tickets online ahead of the event. This year’s tickets are $25 each.
Last year, the festival raised $64,000 and donated it to the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support research for a cure to Parkinson’s Disease. This year, it already has $55,000 in donations committed to the foundation, according to Levine.
Check out the nominees for The Nikki’s below and cast your vote.
Voting is open through Feb. 2, and you can vote once per day.
Nominees in the 15-18 year-old age group
Director: Lindsay O’Keefe
Hometown: Lakewood, Ohio
Bio: I am an aspiring filmmaker who plans to go to film school. I am a junior at Laurel School and have been interested in film for many years. Entering and attending the Kids Film It Festival these past four years has helped me so much.
Synopsis: A documentary film tells the story of Breanna Sprenger, an Avon Lake swimmer who competed in the paralympics swimming world championship team.
“Stronger than Steel”
Director: Jacob Pincus
Hometown: Beachwood, Ohio
Bio: I am a junior at Beachwood High School in Beachwood, Ohio.
Synopsis: A touching documentary follows protests in Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania following the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting.
Director: Gabe Schmidt
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Bio: I am a 18-year-old director from Cincinnati. I began my film career by creating animated LEGO films, but have since transitioned to live-action and experimental films.
Synopsis: Two grave robbers attempt to find some jewelry buried with a body — but face some confusion along the way.
Director: Zoe Neely
Hometown: Shaker Heights, OH
Bio: I am a senior at Hawken School in Cleveland, OH. I am passionate about art and animation. My film Cat Fight was runner up in the 2018 Kids Film It competition.
Synopsis: A golfer loses his club, but finds something else to hit a hole in one.
“Roses are Red”
Director: Sophie Zawadzki
Hometown: Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Synopsis: A woman falls for a flower salesman, and their relationship blooms in front of the flower shop.
Nominees in the 12-14 year-old age group
“Through The Eyes”
Director: Eliot Thompson
Hometown: Weston, CT
Bio: I was born in Glendale, CA. It was only after I moved to Connecticut that I got started in film making. My major inspiration was YouTube videos. At age 10, I created a small YouTube channel of my own.
Synopsis: A pair of boys give a tearful goodbye to their mother, and then prepare to go to war… Nerf war, that is.
Director: Samantha Valerie Squires
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Bio: My sister Val and I enjoy making movies together. I am 12 and Val is 10. We attend Revere Schools in Bath, Ohio. This year we included a cameo by our little brother Ben who is seven, so watch out for it.
Synopsis: A family goes on a camping trip and doesn’t let anything — including a shark attack — get in the way of their good time.
Director: Sayer Baca
Hometown: Annapolis, MD
Bio: I am an 8th grade student who has been making short films for fun ever since I was six years old. I love telling stories, and I believe that filmmaking is the best and possibly easiest way to tell a story.
Synopsis: A boy wakes up to find that the rules of gravity have changed, and tries to navigate his home.
Director: Arman Taheri
Hometown: Shaker Heights, Ohio
Bio: I am a freshman at Shaker Heights High School. I love making movies because I am able to convey different stories onto the big screen and tell them through camerawork and editing.
Synopsis: In this dark thriller, a man longs for his wife who was killed, but is later suspected for her murder.
“How To Make Your Child Happy”
Director: Paige Dix
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Bio: I live in Akron Ohio with my parents and two siblings, and I am an 8th grader at Old Trail School. I like to play tennis, basketball, lacrosse, softball and track. I love the magic of the movies and I am excited to have completed my first short film.
Synopsis: A mother pressures her son to pursue academic activities, but then finds a hobby for them to enjoy together.
Nominees in the 8-11 year-old age group
Director: Piotr Kaźmierczak
Hometown: Sochaczew, Poland
Bio: I create my own stop motion animation and my own comics. I live in Poland and go to painting lessons and create programs in Scratch.
Film synopsis: The changing seasons affect woodland scenery and its wildlife.
“Late for School”
Director: Bobby Mossing
Hometown: Shaker Heights, OH
Bio: I am 11 years old and am from Shaker Heights, OH. I like to record things and edit them and put them on YouTube. I like to watch other YouTubers for inspiration.
Film synopsis: A kid rushes to get ready for school, thinking he’s running late, in this brief comedy.
Director: Hannah Austin
Hometown: Weston, CT
Bio: I am a Taekwondo blackbelt. I love making movies using IncrediFlix; my older brother introduced me to making stop motion films. To me, the best part of making a film is the storyline.
Film synopsis: A stop-motion animated take transforms scenes from the movie “Home Alone,” featuring Lego characters.
“The Goose Chase”
Written by: Gabriel Schaul, Leigh Cooper, Torm Ross, Miles Nam-Hardie, Jake LeRoy, Allison Byrne
Hometown: New York, New York
Bio: The Goose Chase was written, filmed and edited in one week entirely by kids as part of Take Two Film Academy’s summer workshops. The students were inspired to create this Film Noir piece after watching classics like A Touch of Evil and The Maltese Falcon.
Film synopsis: A detective uses his gut feelings to investigate a missing man, and encounters villains on the way.