Aardman’s Lord to visit Toronto kids’ film fest

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Peter Lord

Peter Lord

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)
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.

Émi­lie Jolie (dirs. Fran­cis Nielsen and Philippe Cha­tel; France; French with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles).
Toronto Pre­miere
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)
Toronto Pre­miere
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)
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 (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)
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.

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 BAGLAUGH ANDHALF!

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)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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)
Toronto Pre­miere
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)
World Pre­miere
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.)
Toronto Pre­miere
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)
Toronto Pre­miere
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)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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)
Toronto Pre­miere
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)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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 BAGFOLLOW 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)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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)
Toronto Pre­miere
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.)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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)
Cana­dian Pre­miere
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)
Toronto Pre­miere
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.

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MrClevland has been a cartoon fan since, well, infancy. He has been writing nearly that long. Opinionated, yes, but backed with a wealth of personal knowledge on the subject. You can give r. C a piece of your mind here.

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