Over the Hedge Bows at Sprockets

The ninth annual Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children has announced a slate of films, including some high-profile animated titles.

In its Special Presentation category, for example, audiences will get to see a major work-in-progress screening of Over the Hedge. Featuring the voices of Bruce Willis, Gary Shandling, Avril Lavigne and Eugene Levy, this highly anticipated film from the animation team at DreamWorks Animation SKG, tells the hilarious tale of a group of woodland creatures forging new friendships and a new life for themselves in the backyards of suburbia.

On the more esoteric side, the fest will screen animated films such as Singapore’s Zodiac, The Race Begins. The film combines humor, action and music in a CG adventure that tells the story of twelve animals including a lowly rat, humble ox and a sacred dragon who compete in an epic race to decide who will lead the animals of the Zodiac.

Sprockets’ Shorts selection includes 13 programs comprising 87 films. It will showcase the likes of Singapore’s newest superstar in excerpts from KungFu Gecko, an animated adventure featuring the eponymous hero rescuing an innocent insect from the malevolent and terrible, Toad Bully. The Jungle Beat series of animated shorts, from Zimbabwe meanwhile, offers audiences a glimpse into the lives of Tortoise, Giraffe, Frog and Monkey as they embark on haphazard and often hilarious adventures in the jungle.

The Sprockets Reel Rascals program, showcases films for the youngest audience members, children aged three to six. When Bob Became a Builder sees Bob, Dizzy, Muck and Scoop joined by two new vehicles, Benny and Scrambler as they build a park for children and their families in Sunflower Valley. Pettson and Findus’The Tomte Machine, based on the famous children’s book series by Sven Nordqvist, is a whimsical animated tale about Pettson the farmer and his loyal cat Findus. While An Eye For Annai, a sweet and gentle salute to uniqueness, tells the animated tale of Annai as he finds a new friend whose features perfectly complement his own.

New this year, fest participants can make their own stop animation film, edit together footage and give voice to an animated character.

This year’s event will screen the largest number of films in its history, with 122 films in 18 languages from 29 different countries including 40 world, international, or North American premieres. Sprockets runs from April 21 to April 30, 2006, and tickets are now available – call 416-968-FILM or click www.bell.ca/sprockets.