The 15th annual TIFF Kids International Film Festival revealed the Feature Film Presentations that will screen during the festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox from April 10 through April 22, 2012.
Also announced today was the official Opening Night selection. On Friday, April 13, TIFF Kids presents the Canadian Premiere of Chimpanzee, the new True Life Adventure from Disneynature which follows Oscar, a young chimpanzee, as he explores the fascinating terrain of the African forests.
FEATURE FILM PRESENTATIONS
Alfie, the Little Werewolf (Dolfje Weerwolfje), director: Joram Lürsen, The Netherlands. Dutch with English subtitles. Toronto Premiere
When the full moon rises on the night of his seventh birthday, strange things begin to happen to shy little Alfie: he suddenly grows sharp claws and white fuzzy hair, and begins to howl at the moon. Alfie soon realizes he is no longer a regular kid—he has turned into a werewolf! Only his brother Timmie knows, but with Alfie attacking his neighbour’s chickens and biting a bully in the leg, it won’t be long until his secret is revealed. Alfie just wants to be an ordinary boy again, but with the help of his loving family and a mysterious hairy stranger, he may learn that what makes each person different is also what makes them special. Age recommendation 7 and up.
Bacalar, director: Patricia Arriaga Jordán, Mexico. Spanish with English subtitles. Canadian Premiere
When twelve-year-old wannabe detectives Santiago and Mariana witness the kidnapping of endangered Mexican wolf cubs, they spring into action to stop the traffickers and return the cubs to the local nature reserve. With the local authorities a step behind them, our heroes must rely on teamwork, keen powers of observation and a little help from the animal spirits to get the job done. Age recommendation 10 and up.
Ballymun Lullaby, director: Frank Berry, Ireland. English.
Ballymun Flats, Ireland’s only highrise community, was created in the 1960s to solve a housing crisis. Since then, social and economic issues associated with the address have led to prejudice against its residents–many of whom have been forced out of their homes due to redevelopment. Yet the community’s sense of hope and perseverance shines, as seen in this inspiring documentary following music teacher Ron Cooney and the kids of the Ballymun Music Programme through the creation of a choral and orchestral album. While the film focuses on the incredible talent behind the project, it also provides a glimpse into the lives of these young artists who have learned to overcome the limitations imposed by others. Age recommendation grades 5 and up.
The Blue Tiger (Modry Tygr), director: Petr Oukropec, Czech Republic. Czech with English subtitles. International Premiere In a city ruled by a diabolical mayor, only one thing can save the old botanical garden from demolition: the magical blue tiger. Now it’s up to friends Johanka and Matyas to protect the tiger from the evil clutches of the mayor and his henchmen and save the garden from becoming an entertainment centre. They’ll have to rely on their intelligence and imagination, not to mention the mysterious powers of the blue tiger to save the day. Combining live-action and clever animation flourishes, The Blue Tiger is a visually stunning tale of heart and hope, encouraging us to care for our local environment while respecting the past. Age recommendation 8 and up.
Brownstones to Red Dirt, directors: Dave LaMattina, Chad Walker, USA/Sierra Leone. English.
Canadian Premiere When students from Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy projects befriend an orphanage of children and youth living in post-civil war Sierra Leone, Africa, the results are truly inspiring. Developed though a pen pal programme, this unique dialogue has an extremely positive effect on both sets of students. By the end of the school year, the kids from Bed-Stuy even organize a fundraiser to help their distant friends. Brownstones to Red Dirt is a compelling documentary that boldly explores some of society’s most gruelling problems. Its candid realism isn’t always easy to watch, but in the end it offers a positive message for children and adults. Age recommendation grades 7 and up.
Chimpanzee, directors: Mark Linfield, Alastair Fothergill, USA. English.
*Opening Night Film* Canadian Premiere This new True Life Adventure from Disneynature takes moviegoers deep into the African forests to meet an extraordinary new screen personality: Oscar, an adorable young chimpanzee whose playful curiosity and zest for life demonstrates the warmth, intelligence and ingenuity of these remarkable members of the animal kingdom. The complex terrain of the forest is an endless playground for Oscar and the other young chimpanzees in his group, who would rather explore and make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar’s family is confronted by a rival band of chimpanzees, he is forced to fend for himself—until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever. Age recommendation 8 and up.
Cool Kids Don’t Cry (Achtste Groepers Huilen Niet), director: Dennis Bots, The Netherlands. Dutch with English subtitles. International Premiere Grade eight student Akkie has only two concerns: going to high school with her best friends and winning the soccer championship. Tough-girl Akkie never backs down from a challenge or lets the class bully Joep target her friends. Her whole class is shocked when Akkie is diagnosed with leukemia, yet she faces the disease with unwavering courage. While on her class graduation trip she must rely on Joep, the one classmate who didn’t visit her in the hospital, to help her with a dilemma. Is this is the beginning of a new friendship? Akkie fears she won’t have time to find out. Based on the best-selling Benelux novel by Jacques Vriens, this film adaptation will leave viewers inspired by Akkie’s spirit and resolve in the face of adversity. Age recommendation 11 and up.
The Crocodiles: All For One (Vorstadtkrokodile: Freunde für Immer), director: Wolfgang Groos, Germany. German with English subtitles. Toronto Premiere Our favourite gang of detectives is back in this action-packed final installment of the multi-award-winning trilogy. It’s summer vacation, and the Crocodiles are celebrating Hannes’ birthday at a local go-kart track when a terrible accident sends Frank to the hospital. The doctors determine that Frank will need a liver transplant if he is going to pull throug —but the only ideal match is Frank’s brother Dennis, who is currently in prison. With Frank’s life hanging in the balance, the Crocodiles undertake a risky mission to spring Dennis from jail and save their friend, leading to a thrilling, race-against-time conclusion. Age recommendation 10 and up.
Ducoboo (L’élève Ducobu), director: Philippe de Chauveron, France. French with English subtitles. Ducoboo just might be the laziest boy in all of Paris. He may also be the cleverest – at least when it comes to cheating. Which is why he’s just been transferred to the only school in the city that has yet to expel him, Saint-Potache. Faced with the threat of boarding school, he must transform himself into the best student in the class, which shouldn’t be too hard for a pro cheater like Ducoboo. There’s just one hiccup: his equally clever teacher, Latouche. This bold, gag-filled comedy brings to life the colourful chaos and clever characters of the beloved French comic strip on which it is based. Age recommendation grades 4 and up.
Elias and the Treasure of the Sea (Elias og jakten på havets gul), director: Lise I. Osvoll, Norway. Norwegian with English subtitles. Toronto Premiere Our favourite little rescue boat is back in this sequel to Elias and the Royal Yacht. It’s the start of the winter fishing season in Cozy Cove, and Elias is tasked with ensuring that the local fishing boats bring in a good catch. But the evil Polar Queen is determined to run Cozy Cove out of business with her fleet of high-tech trawlers; while her boats plunder the sea, she uses Elias’ mini-sub friend Gaby to search for a sunken treasure. Can Elias rescue his friend from the Queen’s clutches and stop Cozy Cove from going under? Age recommendation 4 and up.
Emil and the Detectives (Emil und die Detektive), director: Franziska Buch, Germany. German with English subtitles. In this adaptation of Erich Kästner’s famous 1929 tale, twelve-year-old Emil tries to change his hard luck when he sets off by train for Berlin. Realizing upon arrival that he’s been robbed of his savings, Emil joins up with Pony, the street-smart leader of a gang of kids. Once they spot the bad guy, it’s only a matter of time before justice prevails. Director Franziska Buch does a wonderful job of staying true to the classic elements of Kästner’s story, at the same time bestowing on it all the features of a 21st-century adventure. Age recommendation 9 and up. Emil and the Detectives is part of the John VanDuzer Children’s Film Collection
Émilie Jolie, directors: Francis Nielsen, Philippe Chatel, France. French with English subtitles.
Nervous about starting at a new school in the morning, eight-year-old Émilie finds comfort in a book that her mother gives her about a little blue rabbit named Gilbert who is kidnapped by a witch. Falling asleep with the book in her hands, Émilie is awakened by the Great Bird from the story, who asks for her help and promises to grant her one wish in return. Based on the acclaimed French musical of the same name, this charming and beautiful animation takes audiences on a magical journey as Émilie discovers the value of courage, friendship and love. Age recommendation grades 1 and up.
Famous Five (Fünf Freunde), director: Mike Marzuk, Germany. German with English subtitles. North American Premiere
Siblings Julian, Dick and Anne aren’t looking forward to spending all summer in a tiny village with their relatives. The feeling is mutual; tomboy cousin George doesn’t even want their company. But things take an exciting turn when they meet Timmy— George’s secret canine friend—and stumble upon a mystery connected to the remote Kirrin Island, which just happens to belong to George’s family. As the intrepid sleuths seek clues, they cross paths with various strange characters—each with secrets to hide. Based on the beloved characters from Enid Blyton’s classic series of books, The Famous Five find adventure at every turn, showing that friendship, cooperation and good old-fashioned teamwork can make even the most seemingly mundane task a rip-roaring escapade. Age recommendation 8 and up.
First Position, director: Bess Kargman, USA. English, Spanish, French, Hebrew with English subtitles. First runner up in the Cadillac People’s Choice Documentary Award at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
In the competitive world of classical dance, perfection is paramount. The documentary First Position explores this theme as it follows six young dancers at one of the most prestigious children’s ballet competitions in the world: the Youth America Grand Prix. Director Bess Kargman interviews the competitors, their families and their teachers, and we learn of the many sacrifices made for the sake of ballet. The kids’ love for dance helps them struggle through injured feet and near exhaustion, all while navigating the drama and changes that come with adolescence. Prepare to be moved and inspired by these gifted young dancers. Age recommendation 9 and up.
Gattu, director: Rojan Khosa, India. Hindi with English subtitles. Canadian Premiere
Gattu is an uneducated orphan who works at his guardian’s scrap yard in a small Indian town. Though he’s small in stature, Gattu has big ambitions—namely, defeating the mysterious black kite Kali, which dominates the sky above his kite-obsessed community. Needing to reach higher ground so that his kite can go head-to-head with Kali, Gattu pretends to be a student at the local school so that he can gain access to its rooftop. Yet Gattu’s determination to take down Kali will lead him to make other discoveries, find new friends, and realize that what happens in the classroom can be just as wondrous as anything happening in the skies. Age recommendation 8 and up.
The Great Bear (Den kaempestore bjørn), director: Esben Toft Jacobsen, Denmark. Danish with English subtitles. Toronto Premiere It’s summer vacation, and eleven-year-old Jonathan is excited about spending some time at his grandfather’s house—though he’s less than happy that his little sister Sophie has to come along too. When Sophie disappears while exploring a mysterious forest, Jonathan plunges into the woods to find her and discovers a fantastical realm populated by mythical animals, including a giant, thousand-year-old bear who has made himself Sophie’s friend and protector. But the siblings’ new friend needs protection himself when an obsessed hunter, armed with a rifle, sets out to take the legendary creature as a trophy. A gorgeous animated adventure from first-time feature director Ebsen Toft Jacobsen, The Great Bear also highlights the importance of family, teamwork, friendship and protecting the environment. Age recommendation 10 and up.
Havanastation (Habanastation), director: Ian Padrón, Cuba. Spanish with English subtitles. Canadian Premiere
The son of a successful jazz musician, twelve-year-old Mayito lives a very comfortable life in Havana. He’s a disciplined and dedicated student, but doesn’t have many friends. During May Day celebrations, he gets separated from his classmates and teacher and finds himself on the other side of town in the poor area where his classmate Carlos lives. While his parents and teacher worry about his whereabouts, Carlos introduces Mayito to his friends and neighbourhood. Despite their very different backgrounds, the two boys form a strong bond when they are faced with a challenging adventure. Age recommendation 10 and up.
King Siri (Siri Raja Siri), director: Somaratne Dissanayake, Sri Lanka. Sinhalese with English subtitles. Sirimal is a gifted eleven-year-old boy from a small Sri Lankan village whose keen intelligence wins him a scholarship to attend a prestigious school in the capital city of Colombo. Coming from a poor rural family, he has difficulty adjusting to his new surroundings and being accepted by his well-to-do classmates. His strong work ethic and sense of self-worth help see him through his challenges, and he wins newfound respect from his peers when he lands the lead role of the king in the school play. But now he faces the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of getting the money to pay for the elaborate costume. An engaging story about the power of self-confidence and self-reliance, King Siri demonstrates how finding strength in yourself can guide you through the toughest challenges. Age recommendation grades 5 and up.
Kiwi Flyer, director: Tony Simpson, New Zealand. English. International Premiere Every summer, kids of all ages flock to Nelson, New Zealand, to compete in the annual trolley derby. Twelve-year-old Ben comes from a long line of derby competitors: his grandfather was a champion, while his father tried his best and never gave up, even though he lost year after year. When his father passes away in a tragic accident, Ben decides to honour his memory by making his dream trolley design, the Kiwi Flyer, a reality and winning the big race himself. But when neighbourhood bullies threaten the Flyer’s chances, Ben is forced to make a decision: give up before the race even starts, or follow his father’s example and give it his best shot, no matter the odds. Age recommendation 9 and up.
Le tableau, director: Jean-François Laguionie, France. French with English subtitles. Canadian Premiere
A delightful and innovative CG-animated fable, Le tableau is set within the world of an unfinished painting whose artist has abandoned his incomplete creations. In his absence, the finished drawings (the ?Alldunns?) take over governance of the painting, relegating the partially completed ?Halfies? to second-class citizenship and declaring a war of extermination against the thinly outlined ?Sketchies.? But when an Alldunn, a Halfie and a Sketchie wind up sharing a journey downriver to parts unknown, they discover other paintings, other beings, and learn that the world beyond their own frame is richer and more diverse than they ever imagined. Returning from their adventure, they must persuade the others to learn acceptance, to see the bigger picture and to realize that everyone is, in their own way, a unique work of art. Age recommendation 11 and up.
Light of the River, director: Tetsuo Hirakawa, Japan. Japanese with English subtitles. When their riverbank home is destroyed by a construction project, a family of rats is forced to flee to the city, where they must learn to navigate unfamiliar territory, make new friends and ward off dangers as they search for a new place to call home. This delightful animated adventure offers valuable lessons of friendship, family and the delicate balance of life, and reminds us that we all share the same world. Age recommendation grades 7 and up.
Lotte and the Moonstone Secret (Lotte ja kuukivi saladus), directors: Heiki Ernits, Janno Poldma, Latvia/Estonia. Dubbed in English. Canadian Premiere In this beautifully animated and charming follow-up to Lotte from Gadgetville (Sprockets 2008), Lotte—our favourite female dog—and her friends return. One night, two small hooded moon rabbits try to steal the magical and mysterious stone that Lotte’s Uncle Klaus brought back from a secret temple in the mountains. Lotte thwarts the theft and vows to uncover the moonstone’s mystery by encouraging Uncle Klaus to track down his old friends, Fred and Ville, who own stones exactly like his. With the moon rabbits in hot pursuit of their stone, Lotte and her uncle must unlock the moonstone secret before it’s too late. Age recommendation 4 and up.
Nicostratos the Pelican, director: Olivier Horlait, France/Belgium/Greece. French with English subtitles. Toronto Premiere Fourteen-year-old Yannis enjoys a simple life with his widowed fisherman father on the Greek island of Zora. That is, until he trades his mother’s golden cross for Nicostratos, a neglected white pelican. This charismatic, mischievous and gigantic bird becomes Yannis’ best friend, but he also becomes a major tourist attraction. Nicostratos draws ever-increasing crowds to the beautiful, formerly sleepy Zora—potentially spoiling the island’s traditional ways and Nicostratos’ natural instincts. Yannis soon realizes when a little harmless fun can turn into exploitation. Along the way, he’ll learn some hard lessons about friendship, family and knowing when to say goodbye. Age recommendation 11 and up.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits, 3D, director: Peter Lord, co-director: Jeff Newitt, United Kingdom/USA. English
*Sneak Peek * Canadian Premiere
In The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Hugh Grant stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain—a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side, and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure! Age recommendation 7 and up.
Salaam Dunk, director: David Fine, USA/Iraq. English, Arabic, Kurdish with English subtitles.
With all we’ve learned about the war in Iraq, we know little about the country’s young citizens: their interests, schooling and what they do for recreation. Yet Iraq’s citizens enjoy many of the same things we do—basketball, for instance. This exciting and uplifting documentary follows the highs and lows of the all-girl basketball team at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani. Now in their second season, the girls have yet to win a single game. That’s about to change. Salaam Dunk is a thrilling sports story, but it’s also a touching depiction of students who have endured war, political instability and inequity. Through highly personal video diaries, these girls don’t hold back in discussing their struggles off the court; it’s impossible not to cheer when they start to win on it. Age recommended grades 7 and up.
Sky Force, 3D, director: Tony Tang, Hong Kong, English.
Sky Force is the most elite emergency fighting team in the sky. After hot-shot team member Ace breaks rank on a dangerous mission and it results in tragedy, he leaves Sky Force for a dreary job in cargo hauling. But Ace can’t forget his former life or his friends at Sky Force. When his cruel boss puts his cargo co-workers in danger, Ace takes action. Knowing that he can’t be a hero on his own, Ace overcomes his fears and calls on Sky Force to help save the day. Age recommendation 6 and up.
SNOWFLAKE – The White Gorilla (Copito de Nieve), director: Andrés G. Schaer, Spain. Dubbed in English. North American Premiere
When Snowflake, a rare white gorilla, arrives at the zoo, he becomes the star attraction for both the public and the other animals—with the exception of his fellow gorillas, who view him with suspicion and disdain. With the help of Ailur, a Buddhist red panda who believes that he is the reincarnation of a black panther, Snowflake escapes the zoo and heads for the city in search of a powerful conjuror who can transform him into a ?normal? gorilla. Inspired by the famous real-life Snowflake, who lived at the Barcelona Zoo in the late 1960s, this rousing adventure is an ingenious blend of computer animation and live action that addresses serious issues like animal rights, diversity and acceptance. Age recommendation 8 and up.
Stanley’s Tiffin Box (Stanley ka Dabba), director: Amole Gupte, India. Hindi with English Subtitles. Canadian Premiere The title of Stanley’s Tiffin Box refers to an Indian phrase for lunch box. For Stanley and his classmates at his local Catholic school, lunch time is a time for playing, getting into mischief and sharing one another’s lunches—even Stanley’s teacher enjoys sampling from the elaborately packed tiffin boxes. Yet it soon becomes clear that the sampling fulfills a genuine need. Thanks to Stanley’s unique relationship with his teachers—for better and worse—the group learns how support from one’s school community can make all the difference. With its vibrant colour palette, memorable music and lively characters, Stanley’s Tiffin Box is an exceptional film for children. Its illuminating look at what it is to have, and to have not, makes it a poignant story for all ages and cultures. Age recommended grades 4 and up.
Stay! (Blijf!), director: Lourens Blok, The Netherlands. Dutch with English subtitles. North American Premiere After three failed attempts to gain permanent residency in The Netherlands, young Iraqi immigrant Milad and his family are about to be sent back to their war-torn homeland. But Lieke, Milad’s best friend, isn’t about to give up her pal without a fight. Unable to make contact with the Minister of Immigration, Lieke befriends a journalist, who isn’t interested in Milad’s story—that is, until Milad’s family is taken into custody, Milad escapes, and he and Lieke set out on a journey that makes front-page news. Age recommendation 9 and up.
Stella and the Star of the Orient (Stella und der Stern des Orients), director: Erna Schmidt, Germany. German with English subtitles. When ten-year-old Stella unknowingly steps into a magic wardrobe one New Year’s Eve, she is transported a hundred years into the past and comes face-to-face with her great-grandmother Clementine, who, in 1905, is Stella’s age. The girls become fast friends, and when they discover that the family’s home may have to be sold, they embark on an exciting adventure with Clementine’s younger brother Gustav in search of a secret treasure that could save the family from financial ruin. Braving a treacherous forest and trying to evade a couple of swindling thieves hot on their trail, the three friends have to race against time to find the treasure and get Stella back to the present day—or else she might never exist. Age recommendation grades 3 and up.
Tony 10, director: Mischa Kamp, The Netherlands. Dutch with English subtitles. North American Premiere Each year on his birthday, Tony goes out with his crane-driver father to learn a new trick of the trade. But ever since getting appointed Minister of Transportation, Tony’s dad no longer has time for him or his mother. When the strain finally causes his parents to divorce, Tony sets out on a mission to reunite them before his tenth birthday—even if he has to go to the Queen to do it. Director Mischa Kamp expertly highlights complex family issues in this humorous and entertaining film. Age recommendation 9 and up.
Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes, director: Dennis Jackson, Canada. English. Talon and Raven are heartbroken to learn they must leave their hometown of Wapos Bay in northern Saskatchewan after their father accepts a job in the city. While Talon sets off to complete a ?bucket list? of adventures before they leave, Raven conspires with the town elders to secretly elect their father as chief, forcing him to stay. But when Raven’s scheme ends in a hurtful smear campaign against their uncle, and Talon’s thrill-seeking leads to dead ends, the siblings realize they must turn their energy towards doing something positive for the community they love. Based on the Gemini Award-winning, stop motion-animated TV series, Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes is a funny and moving portrait of a First Nations community where ancient traditions and modern life meet. Age recommendation grades 4 and up.
War of the Buttons (La guerre des boutons), director: Yann Samuell, France. French with English subtitles. This delightfully rowdy new adaptation of Louis Pergaud’s classic 1912 novel shifts the story’s action to 1960, with the very real Algerian War serving as an ironic counterpoint to the turf war between two rival bands of boisterous kids in rural France. Lebrac, the ten-year-old leader of the Wet Willies and ?the bravest kid in Longeverne,? has it tough at home: an absent father means that he must spend most of his days working his family’s modest farm, even though his teacher is convinced that the boy’s tough exterior conceals an unusually adept mind. As tensions rise between the Wet Willies and their mortal enemies from a neighbouring parish—with buttons mercilessly cut from shirts and trousers as battlefield trophies—Lebrac must face his own struggle between family responsibility and a life of higher learning that might take him far from his home. Age recommendation grades 6 and up.
Will, director: Ellen Perry, United Kingdom/Turkey. English. Canadian Premiere Living in an orphanage after his mother’s death, eleven-year-old Liverpool Football Club fanatic Will Brennan is thrilled when his long-absent father returns with two coveted tickets to the LFC’s Champions League final in Istanbul. But tragedy strikes again when his father dies suddenly, leaving Will twice orphaned—but still determined to make it to the big game. Will runs away from the orphanage and sets out on the long voyage to Turkey in the company of Alek, a kindly truck driver with a painful past of his own. With a winning lead performance from newcomer Perry Eggleton, and an excellent cast that includes Bob Hoskins, Damian Lewis and Jane March, Will inspires us to share in our young hero’s struggles, admire his courage and cheer his triumphs. Age recommendation 9 and up.
WUNDERKINDER, director: Marcus O. Rosenmüller, Germany. German with English subtitles. Canadian Premiere
Hailed as child prodigies on their tour of Russia and booked for a performance at Carnegie Hall, young Jewish musicians Abrascha and Larissa are the pride of Ukraine. When Hanna, an aspiring violinist from Germany, joins their troupe, Abrascha and Larissa are at first suspicious of her privileged background, but soon come to accept her as a gifted musician and a true friend. Yet when Hitler attacks the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, the three friends are suddenly on opposite sides in a brutal war. As the German threat advances and their families struggle to stay together, the children discover that the power of music can transcend the most tragic circumstances, and point to a better world ahead. Age recommendation 12 and up.