CLEVELAND - Ryan Levine, 13, has a passion for making movies and knows other children who have the same high level of interest.
His grandmother has Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects more than 5 million people worldwide. Ryan, a longtime admirer of Michael J. Fox as an actor and advocate for Parkinson’s research, decided to merge the two interests and create an International kids film festival called the Kids Film It Festival.
Ryan Levine, the founder of the Kids Film It Festival, is a middle school student at Hawken School in Gates Mills, Ohio.
The first-ever festival gets underway at 6 p.m. Friday at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
According to the news release, there are very few film festivals targeting movies actually made by kids. In this first year of his event, Ryan has raised more than $20,000 on his way to a goal of $25,000.
The event, which was open to children ages 8-18, had three different age groupings and three different categories; animation, music, and film.
The "next generation of Hollywood film makers" submitted 65 entries and will walk the red carpet, watch their movies, and wait to hear if their names are announced as the winners of the festival, according to the news release.
George Cheeks, President of NBC Late Night Programming and Business Ops and Emmy Award Winning Director and Producer, Marc Buckland, both native Clevelanders, judged the 65 movies and selected the winning films, according to the news release.
“Each year, Team Fox members like Ryan Levine play a pivotal role in helping The Michael J. Fox Foundation speed a cure for Parkinson’s,” said Liz Diemer, Senior Associate Director, Team Fox in the news release.
“Michael J. Fox is an incredible actor but what he has done for Parkinson’s disease is even more impressive,” Ryan said.
“ I love movie making and know so many other children have the same passion and thought by creating a competition and festival it would be an interesting way to join together two great causes.”
According to the release, all sponsorship fees from the Festival will go to Team Fox, the grassroots fundraising arm of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. MJFF’s mission is to help speed better life-changing treatments, and ultimately a cure for Parkinson’s disease, through high-impact research programs.
In addition to funds raised from sponsors, the Kids Film It Festival has created a list of unique sports experiences to put on Charity Buzz to raise additional funds for MJFF, according to the release.
Charity Buzz is an online auction site that promotes uncommon items. An example of some of the items donated: Russell Westbrook signed shoes, Oklahoma City Thunder player meet and great and tickets, Chicago Blackhawks tickets, signed hockey stick and post-game locker room tour, Celtics meet and greet with Coach Brad Stevens, signed ball and tickets to a game, according to the news release.