Max Minsky and Me

Sprockets Film Festival 2008

Tomorrow is the kick-off day for the Sprockets International Film Festival for Children. At this week-long festival catered to families and school groups, there is truly something for everybody. The offerings this year vary from alien substitute teachers, to serious films about children dealing with divorce or alcoholism and last but not least, a giant dolphin-like creature who likes hugs. Read on to learn more about what Sprockets has to offer for you this year!

For those unfamiliar with the festival, Sprockets does a great job of catering to adults and children alike in the way they organize their screenings. For example, many films in the festival are in languages other than English and instead of only offering the films with subtitles, Sprockets has additional screenings with translators to describe the film to youngsters who can't read fast enough.

A film that intrigued me from the Sprockets program was the charming, intelligent German film Max Minsky and Me, about 13 year old Nelly Sue Edelmeitser. Nelly is an aspiring astronomer with a hopeless crush on the Prince of Luxembourg and she needs to join her schools basketball team to be able to attend a tournament hosted by the Prince. The only problem? She's a dismal athlete! Enter Max Minsky, a gifted basketball player Nelly employs to teach her the sport, who ends up teaching her more about friendship instead. Cute, smart, charming and unmissable.

Other worthwhile mentions this weekend at Sprockets include The Three Robbers, an animated film about a clever girl who turns the tables on a trio of thieves, the sweet film Butterflies about a six year old who can fly, a short program entitled Reel Rascals which contains Mumuhug, the dolphin-creature mentioned above, and JUMP, a documentary about competitive jump rope teams which was recommended highly by Norm Wilner at NOW magazine.

The Jump Cuts Program, comprised of films by Ontario students from grade 3 to grade 12 will be divided into two screenings; one for the students from grades 3-6 (age 6 ) and another for students from grades 7-9 & 10-12 (age 12 ). By attending the Jump Cuts program, not only will you get a glimpse of future filmmakers-to-be, but you also get to experience another positive aspect of Sprockets, the opportunity for youth filmmakers a place to gain an enthusiastic audience.

In a way, Sprockets may be one of the most important film festivals the longer it continues to grow and expand. The festival shows that by beginning at a young age, children can be cultured through films that don't necessarily have a Hasbro-tie in or are owned by Disney. Parents can discover that family-friendly doesn't only have to mean animated films by Pixar, and most importantly, by including films from all around the world, youth can experience cultural viewpoints through cinema in a way that the films at the local Cineplex Odeon will definitely not be offering.

Photo: Max Minsky and Me from AJFF

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