A few years back, I was invited to attend the gala screening of The Grand Seduction at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Honestly, the film would not have been one that I would have chosen to see. But to my surprise, the movie was more than amazing, it was a true gem, one that many have never heard of. Recently, I attended a media screening for Oddball, the opening night film at this year’s TIFF Kids International Film Festival. Once again, TIFF did not disappoint.
Oddball tells the story of an unlikely trio of heroes in the small coastal town of Warrnambool in Victoria, Australia. There’s Swampy Marsh, a loud mouthed, opinionated chicken farmer, his bright-eyed nine-year-old granddaughter Olivia, and Swampy’s mischievous Maremma sheepdog, Oddball or “Oddy” as Swampy likes to call him.
When fox attacks threatens the extinction of a colony of penguins living on Middle Island, the trio devise a plan to put a stop to the penguin deaths. Swampy’s conservationist daughter Emily (Olivia’s mom), have been trying desperately, with little success, to save the penguins. Once the penguin population dips below 10, the island will lose its sanctuary status for the penguins. With that, Emily will be out of a job but more importantly, her dream of carrying on her mother’s work with the penguins will be gone forever.
Oddball is based on the real life events of Swampy Marsh and his Maremma sheepdogs, one of which is named Oddball. Swampy’s dogs work on the farm to keep the foxes away from the chickens, so the idea of having the dogs protect the penguins wasn’t completely far-fetched.
The film is good old-fashioned fun with twists and turns that will satisfy a young tween’s sense of adventure. Kids will love the ever so cute penguins, dogs and foxes that appear in the movie. Parents can use Oddball to talk with their kids about the importance of protecting and respecting the environment. The beauty of the Australian coastal landscape is breathtaking, and coupled with the cast of eccentric characters and adorable animals, Oddball has the makings of a true family friendly classic.
Buy tickets to TIFF Kids Film Festival Opening Night party with screening of Oddball.
Youtube: TIFF Kids
2016 TIFF Kids International Film Festival
And this is why I love film festivals. It’s an opportunity to see films you otherwise would not. The 2016 TIFF Kids International Film Festival is one of the largest children’s film festivals in the world. Now in its 19th year, I am still amazed at how many of my friends, long time Torontonians (you know who you are), weren’t even aware that TIFF had a children’s film festival.
If you have kids between the ages of 3-13 who love watching movies, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the place to be. Taking place April 8-24, 2016, this year’s Kids Film Festival features a total of 139 films from 35 countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, India, the Philippines, South Korea, and many more. What an incredible opportunity for children to learn about other cultures (some films have English subtitles). The diverse programming represent real and important issues facing kids today such as bullying, gender identity, peer pressure, friendships and courage.
To top it all off, TIFF is celebrating its 40th year! To mark the occasion, special screenings of the films The Princess Bride, The Red Balloon, The Boxtrolls (followed by discussion about the art of stop-motion animation — great takeaway for older kids), Matilda and Jim Henson’s Fraggles (complete with pancakes and waffles!). All festival films have age recommendations, and TIFF’s search function makes it super easy for parents to determine what films are appropriate for their kids.
In between films, be sure to stop in at digiPlaySpace and get ready to be awestruck in this digital high-tech playground. Trust me when I say that you will have just as much fun as the kids hanging in this interactive space.
Ticket prices for the TIFF Kids Film Festival start at $9 with film and digiPlaySpace combos starting at $15. Tickets are on sale now. For admission details and the complete schedule, see links below.
#TIFFKids Twitter Party
Join us Thursday, April 7th at 12 noon (EST) for the TIFF Animation Magic twitter party. No RSVP required, just jump in on the conversation using the #TIFFKids hashtag and join in on the fun. Be sure to follow @, @ and @ on Twitter. There are some fantastic prizes up for grabs!
Feature Image: Roadshow Films
About Wendy Morelli
Wendy loves her 2 kids and her iPhone, not necessarily always in that order. She is an app obsessed mom who loves everything tech and is (unfortunately) old enough to remember the brick Motorola cell phone and the Commodore computer. Her love for technology stems back to the 10+ years of working for technology based companies. Wendy's alter ego, "AppHipMom" has been featured in Canadian Family, iVillage, Women in Biz, EverythingMom, BlogHer and Savvy Mom.