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Press Releases

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SU Screens 'Varmints' and 'The Spiderwick Chronicles'

SALISBURY, MD---For the first time, Salisbury University’s Children's and Young Adult Literature Festival will feature two film adaptations of successful literary works:  Varmints and The Spiderwick Chronicles.

A short animated film, Varmints was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award—England’s equivalent of an Oscar.  It also was short listed as a “Commended Film” for an Oscar.

Produced by Studio Aka, a London-based animation company known for its idiosyncratic and innovative work, Varmints tells the story of a small creature struggling in a world overwhelmed with pollution, urbanization and indifference.  It’s directed by Marc Craste, illustrator of the Green Earth Book Award-winning story by Helen Ward.  The book has been described as a poignant tale with “sparing words and epic images that combine to make the imagination and the heart soar.”

The 24-minute film has been screened at festivals worldwide including:  Cinanima 2008 in Portugal, Uppsala International Short Film Festival in Sweden, and Encounters Short Film Festival and Bradford Animation Festival, both in the United Kingdom.  It makes its Salisbury debut Wednesday, April 15, during a 6 p.m. Environmental Literature Festival in Holloway Hall Auditorium.  It will be screened again at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, in the Wicomico Room of the Guerrieri University Center.

“The film is about a young ‘varmint,’ a creature created entirely from Craste’s imagination, who sees his beautiful natural world threatened by the encroachment of a big city,” said Dr. David Johnson, SU English faculty and co-editor of Literature/Film Quarterly. “It’s a story about our own attitudes toward nature and our responsibilities to it.  It’s also a beautifully animated film, with some extraordinary visual sequences and a lovely score.  I think it will be a real treat to see it on the big screen.”

The Spiderwick Chronicles makes its SU debut 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, in the Wicomico Room.  A 96-minute fantasy film, it’s a compressed adaptation of the first five books in the popular children’s series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. A book signing and lecture by Black follows at 7 p.m.

The New York Daily News said: “There’s no shortage of ghoulies, goblins and things that go bump in the night” in this adaptation.  The supernatural happenings take place in a crumbing country estate where three transplanted New York kids find a book of fairy lore and critters both cuddly and carnivorous.

Director Mark Waters said the best-selling books “were geared toward children but had moments that sent chills down my spine. They were scary, but in a good way…you want to keep reading, or keep looking at the screen.”

“The film, like the book series, is about encouraging us to see extraordinary beings and possibilities that emerge in the context of everyday life,” said Dr. Elsie Walker, SU English faculty and co-editor of Literature/Film Quarterly. “Both introduce us to a whole world of fairies, goblins, sprites, dragons, ogres and other fantastical creatures. The film uses all the power of images to make these beings alive to us. But it’s about much more than special effects—it celebrates the limitless power of imagination.”

For details about the festival call 410-543-6509 or visit the SU Web site at

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