The TIFF Bell Lightbox has not only been a home to some of the best cinematic offerings in the city of Toronto, but also home to some truly great programming for children and young adults who will hopefully bloom into cineastes ready to take up the flag for a new generation. The Toronto International Film Festival’s old children’s festival (formerly known as Sprockets) now finds itself divided into two different age appropriate festivals, the first of which – TIFF Kids, geared towards the 3-13 demographic – kicks off at the TIFF hub on Tuesday, April 10th and runs until Sunday, April 22nd. (Teenagers will get their own mini-festival via the Next Wave program later this spring.)
The festival features the Canadian Premiere of Disney’s Chimpanzee on the 13th, the latest offering from their newly minted Disneynature subdivision. Directors Mark Linfield and Arthur Fothergil follow the exploits of Oscar, a young and playful primate who becomes separated from his family and learn to trust anew. The film (narrated by Tim Allen) opens formally in theatres on April 20th to coincide once again with Disney’s traditional Earth Day releasing of nature documentaries, but festival audiences will get a nice ten day jump on the rest of the country.
Another big name title for the festival is the long anticipated effort from Aardman Animation, the creators of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run. The Pirates! Band of Misfits 3-D finds Hugh Grant in his first ever animated feature as the head of a ragtag group of high seas bandits. Director Peter Lord will also be on hand to interact with the audience at the Canadian premiere of his film.
Other major titles from around the world included in line-up of 35 features include The Crocodiles: All for One (the third entry in the popular German series about child detectives), First Position (a documentary about child ballet dancers that was the runner-up for the Cadillac People’s Choice Award for Documentaries at last years “adult” TIFF), War of the Buttons (which recently garnered a lot of buzz from this past week’s CineFranco festival about two groups of warring children in 1960s France), and the animated Sky Force 3-D (a Hong Kong import about a group of elite fighter pilots).
In addition to the feature films and two packages of animated shorts called Loot Bags, the festival will be taking over almost the entirety of the Lightbox for various family friendly events from a Kidz Bop dance party, to the Jump Cuts Programme showcasing films made by kids and for kids in two different age brackets, to a number of free craft and learning exercises to keep the kiddies busy.
Adults will also probably get a kick out of watching two really fun TIFF initiatives. The Tutu Project, co-sponsored by the National Ballet of Canada, on April 14th and 15th from 10am-4pm, will allow children to colour and decorate plain, clear leader film that will be assembled together to form a tutu that will be on display at the Four Seasons Centre later this summer.
But the part that we’re most excited for would easily be the gleefully nerdy digiPlayspace that will take over the TIFF gallery with numerous interactive art installations and video games from around the world that blend cutting edge technology and innovation with good old fashioned silly fun.
For more information, a full list of features, showtimes, and tickets, visit tiff.net/tiffkids.