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Sprockets gets ‘Hedge’ preview

Toronto kidfest to screen record number of films

The ninth Sprockets Toronto Film Festival has unveiled its largest slate ever, with 122 films from 29 countries, including a work-in-progress screening of DreamWorks toon “Over the Hedge,” featuring the voices of Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Avril Lavigne and Eugene Levy.

Bookending the fest are the previously announced North American preem of Charles Sturridge’s “Lassie,” on April 21, and “Booky Makes Her Mark,” a Canadian pic about a girl trying to become a writer during the 1930s, screening April 30. Latter pic was directed by Peter Moss and stars Tatiana Maslany.

Special presentations announced Tuesday include Doug Atchison’s “Akeelah and the Bee,” starring Keke Palmer, Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, about a young spelling whiz who competes in the U.S. National Spelling Bee; and the Oprah Winfrey-narrated “Emmanuel’s Gift,” about a disabled athlete’s achievement in his native Ghana.

The fest’s 35 features include “We Shall Overcome,” a drama about a boy who’s inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and challenges repressive school authority in 1969 Denmark, and “Zodiac, the Race Begins,” Singapore’s first CG toon, recounting the legend of how 12 animals were chosen as symbols for the ancient Chinese zodiac.

The shorts slate includes 13 programs comprising 87 films, including excerpts from animated adventure “Kungfu Gecko” and the “Jungle Beat” series of animated shorts from Zimbabwe.

Shorts relevant to current events include “Sirah,” about a Muslim girl who faces challenges to her cultural traditions in the U.S., and “Ayla, the Tsunami Girl.”

The Reel Rascals showcase for kids 3-6 includes “When Bob Became a Builder”; “Pettson and Findus — ‘The Tomte Machine,’ ” based on the children’s book series by Sven Nordqvist; and “An Eye for Annai.”

Fest is divided into a family program on the weekends of April 21-23 and April 28-30 and a school program for students grades one to 12.

Go to http://www.bell.ca/sprockets for more information.