3D 'Reef' to open Sprockets kid fest


TORONTO -- In a year big on animated films, the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children on Tuesday said that the North American premiere of "The Reef," a 3D movie voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rob Schneider, will open its 10th edition on April 13.

The U.S.-South Korean film from directors Howard E. Baker, John Fox and Kyeong-ho Lee portrays an orphaned fish who is transplanted to an exotic reef to live with an eccentric aunt after getting caught in a fishing net in Boston harbor.

Also lending their voices to "The Reef" are Evan Rachel Wood, Fran Drescher and Donal Logue.

In all, Sprockets will screen 43 animated films from a total lineup of 98 films -- 39 features and 59 shorts.

These include closing night film "The Ugly Duckling and Me," an Ireland/Denmark/France/Germany co-production by Michael Hegner and Karsten Kiilerich; French animator Michel Ocelot's "Azur and Asmar"; Janis Cimermanis' "The Three Musketeers" from Denmark; and "Khan Kluay," another 3D-animated movie from Thailand's Kompin Komgunmird.

Jane Schoettle, director of youth education and Sprockets at the Toronto International Film Festival, said animated movies work well with her young audience and, economically, they are increasingly being made as international co-productions, given the budgets required for labor-intensive animated theatrical releases.

"We want to support that," Schoettle said of the toon boom in international co-productions.

On the live-action front, Sprockets has booked a special presentation screening for Canadian director Don McBrearty's "Luna: Spirit of the Whale," a drama about a boy and an Orca whale that stars Jason Priestley and Adam Beach.

Schoettle also has programd a host of European offerings, including German filmmaker Gernot Roll's "The Robber Hotzenplotz"; Dag Alveberg's "Svein and the Rat," from Norway; Israeli director Itai Lev's "Little Heroes"; and "Kidz in da Hood," from Swedish directors Catti Edfelt and Yiva Gustavsson.

Reflecting its global focus, Sprockets will unspool movies in 25 languages from 28 countries including Spain, Kenya, Ireland and Estonia.

The Canadian childrens' film festival will wrap April 22 with an awards ceremony.