The first Toronto International Film Festival for Children, Sprockets, launches this month with a program featuring films from 16 countries. Hopes are high that the six-day event will generate the same kind of excitement and anticipation as its parent festival, the Toronto International Film Festival.
‘These films are a lot of fun,’ says Jane Schoettle, director of Sprockets. ‘They’re not always made the same way that the standard North American films are. The stories are often told a bit differently. So I hope kids will get some new experiences and see some of the very different ways there are to tell a story.’
Some of the films include Iceland’s Benjamin Dove, Iran’s The Boots, The Netherlands’ The Boy Who Stopped Talking and Denmark’s Eye of the Eagle. All international films will be subtitled in English, with the subtitles being read aloud by a narrator.
Selecting films for screening was no easy task. Schoettle estimates she viewed hundreds upon hundreds of films.
‘Children are different than an adult audience in that if you have an adult film festival and you show a whole bunch of work and an adult doesn’t like something that they saw, they’ll say `oh well, I didn’t like that as much as something else. Where’s my next screening?’ But with kids, you can’t do that,’ she says. ‘If you show them something that is not for them or is not very good, they’re not coming back. They cut you no slack. So we can’t afford to show anything that’s not 100 percent fabulous.’
Throughout the festival, the Sprockets Web site (www.bell.ca/filmfest) will be the main forum for kids to get their opinions across to organizers about what they’ve seen and experienced.
In addition to the slate of screenings, kids will be able to participate in educational events about filmmaking. An animation workshop called ‘Classical Animation: Design Your Own Cartoon Character’ will be hosted by Nelvana. Kids can learn the art of creating the sounds of footsteps, slamming doors and howling winds in a foley sound workshop, and a special effects and makeup workshop will also take place.