Peter Lord, producer, director and co-founder of the Academy Award–winning Aardman Animation, will engage with audiences at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival during the Canadian premiere of his latest film, The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
Running from April 10 through 22, the TIFF Kids International Film Festival (formerly the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children and Youth) celebrates 15 years as one of the most important film festivals in North America, with special programming and activities for children aged 3 to 13.
Released in 3D, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, is directed by Lord and co-directed by Jeff Newitt.
In the British-American co-production, 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!
Lord will conduct a master class at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 19. New this year, the TIFF Kids Master Class is an exclusive opportunity for industry delegates and students to learn from Lord. The session focuses not only on the trademark work of the Aardman feature studio, but also on the trailblazing projects of its commercials and digital divisions.
Among the animated feature films to be seen in Toronto at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival:
The Blue Tiger (Modry Tygr) (dir. Petr Oukropec; Czech Republic)
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.
Émilie Jolie (dirs. Francis Nielsen and 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.
The Great Bear (Den kaempestore bjørn) (dir. Esben Toft Jacobsen; Denmark; Danish with English subtitles)
It’s summer vacation, and 11-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.
Le tableau (dir. Jean-François Laguionie; France; French with English subtitles)
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 (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 (dir. 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) (dirs. Heiki Ernits and Janno Poldma; Latvia/Estonia; dubbed in English)
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.
Snowflake — The White Gorilla (Copito de Nieve) (dir. 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.
Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes (dir. 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.
SHORTS PROGRAMME: CANADA FOR KIDS
From the backyard ice rink to the playground jungle, with trips to places far, wide and in between, Canadian filmmakers have plenty of great stories to tell. Age recommendation: 7 to 11.
Ormie (dir. Rob Silvestri, Canada)
In this hilarious, award-winning animation, Ormie the Pig tries everything he can think of — and then some! — to get at the cookies that sit just out of reach on top of the fridge.
Vistas: Dancers of the Grass (dir. Melanie Jackson, Canada)
Traditional hoop dance is explored using stop-motion animation in this fascinating look at a native Canadian ritual.
SHORTS PROGRAMME: LOOT BAG — LAUGH AND A HALF!
From the jungles of Africa to the woodlands of England and the castles of Germany, this collection of hilarious, animated adventures traverses the globe. Age recommendation: 7 to 11.
Floyd the Android: Teleporter and Dim Bulb (dir. Jonathan Lyons; U.S.A.)
Floyd the Android finds everyday life isn’t always quite so simple in these slapstick shorts.
The Sparrow Who Kept his Word (Vorobej kotoryi umel dergat’ slovo) (dir. Dmitry Geller; Russia)
An honest, little sparrow braves the cold, wind and rain in order to hold true to his noble and kindhearted promise.
The Princess’ Painting (Das Bild der Prinzessin) (dirs. Klaus Morschheuser and Johannes Weiland; Germany)
A rather entitled young princess learns a valuable lesson in the appreciation of art — and life.
Jungle Beat: Somewhere Over the Rainbow (dir: Brent Dawes; South Africa)
A colourful chameleon meets a rainbow on a dazzlingly bright summer day in the jungle.
The Beet Party Pilot: Double Your Celery (dirs: Paul Brown and Paul Hunt; Canada)
The beets are just chillin’ in the fridge, keepin’ things fresh with some beat-tastic break dancing.
Paint Showers (dir. Miguel Jiron; U.S.A.)
The pitter-patter of little paint drops swells into a torrential rainstorm of colour and imagination that’s sure to wash you away.
Mouse for Sale (dir. Wouter Bongaerts; Belgium)
A little mouse in a pet store who is desperate for a new home perks up and performs when a young boy enters the picture. But will anyone take notice?
Shaun the Sheep: Pig Trouble (dir. Lee Wilton;, United Kingdom)
When Bitzer the dog needs a timeout for bed rest, the pesky pigs get up to no good. Only loyal Shaun the sheep can somehow outsmart them and restore order.
Hooked (dir. Friedl Joost; South Africa)
A little fish finds out there might be something strange going on above the surface in this sweet and clever short that’s guaranteed to reel in some laughs.
At the Opera (dir. Juan Pablo Zaramella; Argentina)
It’s hard to not come to tears in this highly dramatic operatic (and aromatic) short.
The Gruffalo’s Child (dirs. Uwe Heidschötter and Johannes Weiland; United Kingdom)
The long-awaited sequel to author Julia Donaldson’s Academy Award–nominated The Gruffalo sees the youngest member of the Gruffalo clan boldly venturing into the woods one snowy night in search of the legendary big, bad mouse.
SHORTS PROGRAMME: LOOT BAG — FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
Featuring several of the year’s best 3D animated shorts across a variety of animation styles, this shorts program will whisk you away on otherworldly flights of filmic fancy. Age recommendation: 9 to 13.
The Bicycle Animation (dir. Katy Beveridge; United Kingdom)
Paper craft and cycling unite to produce this delightful real-time animation that’s sure to leave you geared up to try something crafty at home!
The Magic Piano, 3D (Zaczarowany Fortepian) (dir. Martin Clapp; Poland/China/Norway)
In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, this stop-motion animation unfolds to the sounds of world-renowned classical pianist Lang Lang’s sublime interpretations of Chopin’s Études.
The Big Brother (Der Grosse Bruder) (dirs. Jesús Pérez and Elisabeth Hütterman; Switzerland/Germany)
When an animator is called away from his drawing pad, his half-finished sketches come to life and decide to write their own story.
Origin of Mass (dir. Aleksandar Rodic; U.S.A.)
This abstract animation about the origin of mass is a particle-ularly stimulating kaleidoscope of colour, form and energy.
Burning Stage (dir. Sunoki Yang; South Korea)
In this mesmerizing re-enactment of Swan Lake, magnificent water droplets dance across the screen until they begin to clash with the elements.
Orange O Despair (Orange Ô Desespoir) (dir. John Banana; France)
A hopeful young orange can’t help but dream that life is sweeter outside of the fruit stand.
Where There Here (dir. Soyeon Kim; South Korea)
Inspired by African sound and design, black sand moves effortlessly, continually morphing into new images until nothing is left.
The Boy in the Bubble, 3D (dir. Kealan O’Rourke, Ireland)
Doesn’t life seem like it would be easier if we could just while away the days in an impenetrable, problem-proof bubble?
Runout (Durchgebrannt) (dirs. Thomas Schienagel and Michael Haas; Germany)
Facing the dim prospects of obsolescence, a plucky light bulb gets a bright idea and heads off on an adventure with his uplifting friend, the moth.
Tuurngait, 3D (dirs. Paul-Emile Boucher, Remy Dupont, Benjamin Flouw, Mickaël Riciotti and Alexandre Toufaili; France)
This absolutely stunning film about a boy, his stone bear and the mysterious ice formations near his home will leave audiences breathless, exhilarated and inspired.
“Meet the Animators” takes place at 12 noon Tuesday, April 17. It’s A great opportunity for up-and-coming animators, filmmakers, game developers and content producers to meet established animators and show-runners working in the Canadian children’s entertainment industry. Guests include Brad Ferguson, director (Almost Naked Animals) at 9Story Entertainment; Jason Lin, animation director at 9Story Entertainment; and Kevin Micallef, director (Detentionaire) at Nelvana. Additional speakers are to be announced.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 14 and 15, TIFF Kids will participate in the National Ballet of Canada’s Tutu Project -– a community outreach initiative launched in celebration of the National Ballet’s 60th anniversary. Attendees at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival will get the chance to contribute their artistic flair to the TIFF Tutu design by participating in the festival’s Drawing On Film activity. Taking markers to clear 16mm film leader, the colourful, camera-less animations created by participants will be woven together to form the tutu that represents TIFF when the entire collection goes on display at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in June and the Design Exchange in Toronto later this summer.
The TIFF Kids International Film Festival takes place at TIFF Bell Lightbox. The TIFF Kids school program runs April 10 to 13 and April 16 to 20, and public programme from April 13 to 15 and April 21 to 22. TIFF Members and the general public may also purchase tickets to school program screenings subject to availability.
Tickets for TIFF Kids are currently on sale to TIFF members, and will be available to the general public on Wednesday, March 14. Prices range from Adult $12, Student/Senior $9.50 and Children (13 and under) $8.50. Opening night is $25 per person.
Family packs of 10 tickets are available for $75. Entry to the TIFF Kids digiPlaySpace is $5 or $2.50 with paid screening ticket. Some activities are free.
For more information on screenings and activities, or to purchase tickets, visit tiff.net/kids; call (416) 599-TIFF (8433) or 1–800-599-TIFF; or visit the box office at TIFF Bell Lightbox.