New kids' fest launched
By BRUCE KIRKLAND
The Toronto film festival, frustrated by its years of neglect of the children's market, is launching a separate five-day film festival devoted exclusively to children's programming.
Nicknamed Sprockets, the first edition will take place in April 1998, and will be aimed at children four to 14. Toronto filmfest director Piers Handling announced the new enterprise this weekend and named Jane Schoettle, a former artistic director of a children's festival at Harbourfront, as the head of programming for Sprockets.
Handling said the main festival has tried to incorporate children's films in the past "but not very successfully." While the first Sprockets "will be somewhat modest," Handling said, "I think it's completely natural for us to do this."
Sprockets can promote "media literacy" and develop a young audience that will grow up and appreciate the main adult-oriented festival, he said.
"We just want to present an alternative," Schoettle said, adding that she will aim at programming from 20 to 35 films, including shorts, in the debut festival.
The festival, which has Trimark Investment and Bell Canada involved, will grow when more corporate sponsors are found, she indicated.