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Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave


      Set in the Egypt of 1897, “Murder at the Pharaoh’s Grave” reveals the wide-screen beauty of the desert on a middle-school budget. Archeologist Ellis Clarke finds herself arrested for the disappearance of a colleague. Against the power of the British army, Clarke must draw on her wit, strength, and craftiness to excavate the truth and save her life. From brilliant Cairo, across the magnificent desert on camels, and into an ominous pyramid, the 13-year-old filmmakers concisely capture the suspense, action, and humor of the mystery genre.

      Filmed and edited over six months, the movie combines archival footage, real and virtual sets, and over 100 pounds of sand. Bringing writer/director Ben Kadie’s vision to life required ambitious special effects including miniatures, animation, matte paintings and compositing. “Murder at the Pharaoh’s Grave” is microcinema of historic proportions.


Corp. Vitus Carlson Dr. Ellis Clarke Capt. Henry Bighey Lt. Samuel Serrick



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Full Movie



Director's Commentary for "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave"



Production Photos

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and the story of the production

Bellevue Reporter: "Interlake High School filmmaker already an award-winner"

Apr 16 2010, 5:09 PM
Ben Kadie has tracked down an elusive criminal on the streets of a grimy city, orchestrated an air attack behind enemy lines, and has visited a pharaohs grave – all before his 15 birthday. He travels through time and... More ›

Site logo April 6, 2010: The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers announced today that two of Ben films are national medal winners. "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" won a National Scholastic Silver Medal. Sparks in the Night won a National Scholastic Gold Medal. One year ago, Ben was the youngest gold medal filmmaker in the nation with his film A Friendly Game.

Scholastic has given arts awards since 1923 to teens such as Andy Warhol, Robert Redford, and John Lithgow. Over 165,000 works were submitted this year with fewer than 1300 receiving a national awards. There is an ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City in June for which the city is lighting to top of the Empire State Building gold. (The ceremony, however, conflicts with the end of school at Interlake so Ben won't be able to go.)


Site logo March 2010: The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers has awarded Scholastic Gold Keys to "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" and Sparks in the Night. The awards are the Alliance's highest regional honor.
March 12, 13, & 14: The da Vinci film festival in Corvallis, Oregon, has awarded "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" an Honorable Mention in their Young Filmmakers division. They will screen the film on each day of the festival.
December 2009: In its first international screening, Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave will screen in Delhi, India at the World Kids International Film Festival. KIDS FIRST! arranged this screening.

September 30, 2009: "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" is a nominee for the KIDS! FIRST "Best Award!" in the category of "Student Production, Middle School". Winners will be announced in a ceremony at the Santa Fe Film Festival on December 5.

September 27, 2009, 33rd Annual Young People's Film & Video Festival, Portland, Oregon -- Sparks in the Night & "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" were two of the 16 winners out of 100+ submissions. In 2008 year "Friendly Game" earned also earned a spot on the winner's program. Both years Ben attended with his family and had a great time.


July 25, 2009: "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave", with an introduction by Ben, proceeded the feature film at the West Seattle Movies on the Wall.

June 23, 2009: Cheri Gaulke, chair of Harvard-Westlake's Visual Arts Department, invited Ben to show Slugco films during his visit to Los Angeles. Ben showed “Sparks in the Night” and “Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave” and then answered questions from her summer class of teen filmmakers.
kfff May 26, 2009: KIDS FIRST! selects "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" for their film festival of film festivals. This makes it eligible for more 120 venues nationwide that show films selected by KIDS FIRST!
Northwest High School Film Festival May 19, 2009: "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" earns the "Excellence Award Plaque" from the Northwest High School/Middle School Film Festival. This is their top honor for a middle school film.
April 26, 2009: At the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" won the HBO/Trip to LA Prize. This is one of the festival's biggest prizes. Criteria for the prize included filmmaker potential. While in LA, Ben will learn about filmmaking, meet with industry professionals, and have fun.

Photos from NFFTY
NFFTY video interview with Ben

April 21, 2009: Three days before its Seattle première, 'Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave' got a great review from Warren Etheredge in Seattle's Child magazine. Mr. Etheredge calls the film one of the highlights of NFFTY and says "Kadie wisely uses these effects along with archival footage and an original score to transform this simple tale into legitimate crowd-pleasing entertainment." Read the full review

April 21, 2009: The Bellevue Reporter did a great story about Jocelyn R.C. and Nathalie Con great work on NFFTY. It also mentions Ben:

Bellevue 13-year-old filmmaker Ben Kadie has had a film in every NFFTY festival since it launched. He wrote, directed and starred in the film, “Murder at the Pharaoh’s Grave.” Although set in Egypt, the film was shot in Ben’s backyard using green screen and home made sets.

Two years ago, the Reporter profiled Ben, then a 6th grader, after his film "Perilous Skies" won a screening at the Seattle International Film Festival via a Seattle Times contest. (Article)

April 17, 2009: The Westport News (Connecticut) has an article about "Young Directors on the Rise" about some of the filmmakers selected for Westport Youth Film Festival in May. It says:

Across the country in Bellevue, Wash., Ben Kadie is another filmmaker who values self-reliance. As an 8th grader, Kadie is also one of the youngest participants in this year's festival, but his age has not prevented him from pursuing a mature cinematic vision. Kadie spared nothing in making "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave," a murder mystery set in colonial Egypt. Using advanced cinematic techniques such as miniatures, matte paintings, and compositing to make his 12-minute mini-epic, Kadie notes that "learning from mistakes in past film projects" was instrumental in the success of "Pharaoh's Grave."

Both "A Friendly Game" and "Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave" are official selections of the festival.

April 4, 2009: The Louisiana Film Festival, Student Division, has named  'Murder at the Pharaoh's Grave' as best middle school film. The Robinson Film Center in Shreveport sponsors the festival. A still from the film appeared in the local paper.
Hollywood "FANTASTIC!! This was more entertaining than Hugh Jackman dancing in a tux. And that's saying something! Not only was the term Laugh out Loud invented for this film, I was clapping and bouncing in my chair. [Dylan Forbes] was wonderful. My favorite is the tongue hanging out of his mouth on the end credits"
Author & Teacher "It is great"
Film Archivist "It is engaging and funny, and overall well-done."
Professional Actor "Stylish and provocative! Great job!"
Hollywood  "Ha!!!! That was awesome! Very funny, and the virtual sets were so cool."
US "Very fun to watch"
Filmmaker "Excellent stuff ... Very nice work"
Illinois Professor "Two words come to mind:  seamless and palpable.  Not that they describe the movie (although they do, and quite nicely), but they're good words, anyway.  Oh, and nice haberdashery, too.  And millinery.  Again, all good words."
College filmmakers "Wow...!! This looks insanely impressive!! ... we love the trailer."
Texas "Impressive"
Film software maker "Very, very nice work."
Illinois "Everyone is amazing.  Story writing, acting, editing, props - every part of this movie shows sophistication far beyond what anyone would expect from young people.  Congratulations Slugco, you’ve out done yourself."
West Coast "The movie is fantastic!!!"
Unbiased actor's parents "Wow!  What a great film!  Midnight archeology, camels, poison, deceit, treasure caves, and a resourceful heroine . . . what more could we ask for?"
LA “Very nice. Good story, great effects!”
Seattle Musician “Wow, ... that was amazing! ..  I can see why this took 6 months, that clearly took a ton of work! Great story, visually very convincing, and a great soundtrack to boot - very nicely done”
Seattle "[A]bsolutely amazing.  Great job and imagination."
Redmond, WA "This is amazing!"
Washington State “WOW! This is great!”

(Send your unbiased, positive reviews to info@benkadie.com.)