When I first heard about sprockets, I didn't really know what to think. It was a pretty low-key introduction. I met with my editor over brunch at Seven West. You know the spot around the corner from the Shoppers’ drug mart, just off Yonge, one block south of Bloor. Right, well, after a coffee and a plate of cold fries, he breaks out his movie assignments for this month. As it turns out, he was getting ready for a trip and wanted to dump a pile of flicks in my lap - sure, why not. Then he reached back into his bag and pulled out two more discs. "Oh, and these are for Sprockets." He said. "Sprockets?! What's that like some sort of film festival for gear-heads?" I asked. "No, it's actually a film festival for kids, like TIFF, only minus the adult contingent." He didn't actually say that last bit, I ad-libbed.

From my treasure trove of new movies, the first one I popped into the DVD player was the eleven minute short, I Want to Be a Pilot. It's quite possibly the most depressing, gut-wrenching and heart-breaking thing you could see in such a short period of time, without any severe scenes of human suffering. Director Diego Quemada-Diez sheds some light on the life a young boy in Africa. His dream: to be a pilot and leave his destitute life behind. Perhaps a little melodramatic, but the truth of his plight will surely move viewers, especially children, to think, if not reflect on their fortunes in this life. We take too many things for granted here in North America, and this film succeeds as an appropriate eye-opener for an audience of all ages.

Somewhat along the same line, in so far as thought provoking documentary cinema presented at Sprockets, is Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life. Quite possibly the most educational movie at this year’s Sprockets film festival, the immensity of this film goes beyond words. It’s about a fifteen year old boy already well on his way to losing the battle with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), who embarks on a cross-country road trip with twelve of his friends. He’s a fighter, who at a very young age, has accepted the reality of his situation and still finds the courage to realize his dream.

Director and close friend to Darius, Logan Smalley, takes us on a roller coaster ride from petting gators in a swamp, feeding giraffes bananas in a zoo, to praying Chihuahuas in a parking lot. No jokes here, just trust me, it makes for an entertaining cinematic experience. The catalyst for this adventure: trying to get Darius’ wheelchair “tricked out” on MTV’s hit show Pimp My Ride, in California. Along the way, the boys also document their trip as a means to generate awareness and support in the fight against this terrible disease, not sympathy. On more than one occasion, we see the true mark of this young man’s character. For him, the hour for finding a cure has long since past, but there is still hope for the generation to come, and he knows it. En route, the boys build some unbreakable bonds as they discover the awesome power of friendship.

After ninety-four minutes of footage, three rap songs, an RV breakdown, a day at the beach, an afternoon of spelunking, some river-rafting, a hot air balloon ride, some tattoos, a messy run in with some wasabi, and a harrowing storm chase, Darius’ wheelchair finally gets a much needed make-over. Well, actually, his original electronic chair broke down beyond repair, and was left for scrap. Luckily, some sponsors and a custom designer at East Coast Choppers came to the rescue and Darius’ ride got some new spinners.  In the end, we learn that MTV will never help us solve anything, but we can help ourselves and each other – thank you Darius!

The festival runs until Friday, April 18th. FYI: due to the overwhelming response, there has been a venue change for the showing of Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life to make it more accessible for everyone interested in attending. You can see it this Thursday, April 17th, at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The scheduled start times of the screenings remain unchanged. For more information on Sprockets, movie listings, etc., click to www.sprockets.ca . To learn more about Darius and the plight of those suffering from DMD, click to www.dgwknowaboutit.com . Or, forget about other people in pain, switch over to MTV and see what that does for your understanding of the world…

Price: $6.60 Children under 18, $10.61 Adults
For more information call: 416-968-FILM

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