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Sprockets turns ten

Sprockets, the Toronto International Film Festival for Children, is turning ten this year, which puts it within striking distance of being older than its entire target demographic. Sprockets is probably the only film festival where you'll receive a message before every film saying that if you get lost, you should meet your parents out in the lobby near the teddy bear with the balloons.

The festival held its launch press conference this morning at Canada Square, where Jane Schoettle announced this year's slate of films. Among the highlights are The Reef, an animated film that will open the festival and which features the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Evan Rachel Wood, and Donal Logue; a Degrassi retrospective featuring producer Linda Schuyler and various cast members; and Luna: Spirit of the Whale, a Canadian film from director Don McBrearty, about an orphaned killer whale and the people who try to help him. (Yeah, it's the Canadian Free Willy.)

I love Sprockets. I love going to a film festival where the subtitles are read out loud by a professional so that the youngsters can follow along... takes the pressure off my addled foreign-film-seeking mind.

More than that, though, I love the vibe of a festival that is going well out of its way to introduce young audiences to great cinema, and cinema from around the world, rather than subjecting them to yet another Ice Age sequel. Sprockets is bringing 39 features and 59 shorts from 28 countries in 25 languages.

Sprockets runs April 13-22. Tickets are available now via the festival web site.


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