Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children and Youth
April 5-17 @Bell Lightbox ; 350 King Street West (at John)
One of TIFF’s finer initiatives, Sprockets presents North American and international films for young people of all ages. Two weekends of public screenings–this one and next–are merely the icing on the cake of a two-week festival of films presented in tandem with Toronto schools.
This year over 100 films from 28 countries have been programmed at Sprockets. It’s an astonishingly vast selection, meant to appeal to this city’s multicultural roots and embrace of societies around the world.
A festival like Sprockets has many highlights. Here are a few:
Soul Boy. This Kenya-German production is a modernization-and conflation–of myths and legends. When 14-year-old Abila finds his father sick in bed, claiming that a seductive sorceress has taken his soul, the lad decides to save him. With the beautiful Shiku aiding him, the lad performs seven tasks–like Hercules–to bring him back to the “light.”
The famous German director Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run) produced Kenyan first-time director Hawa Essuman’s film. This is a little masterpiece–intended to inspire African filmmakers. It should do the trick.
The Sound of Mumbai. This lovely doc concentrates on 11-year-old Ashish’s struggle to sing a solo in the Mumbai production of “The Sound of Music.” On Saturday, April 9, La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra from Port Hope, Ontario will perform part of the music before the film’s screening.
Most Valuable Players. Ever hear of the Freddies? They’re awarded to the best performers and craftspeople working in high-school musical theatre in part of Pennsylvania. This entertaining–but not groundbreaking–doc tells a worthwhile and heartwarming tale of culture triumphing in an area where sport is king–particularly football.
Modra. Canadian Ingrid Veninger’s coming-of-age romance–set in Slovakia and previously reviewed favourably here— is a worthy inclusion in Sprockets.