The Magic Piano… is not just the best film I’ve seen at TIFF Kids, but one of the best films I’ve seen all year. It also has the distinction of being a truly marvelous 3-D film, making exceptional use of the technology to create a time, place, and sense of elevation and transportation (literally in both cases).
First Position is about young people between the ages of 9 and 19 competing in the Youth America Grand Prix, which is described as one of the key ballet competitions for young people in the world. Older winners (i.e. 14 and above) get scholarships to prestigious dance schools all over the world. Younger winners (i.e. the terrifying young people who can contort themselves into the size and shape of hand luggage) get glory, and plenty of eyes on them as they advance into their careers.
This is a greatly appealing concept for me – a movie about an adventure involving a centuries-old brown bear the size of an apartment complex, who has concealed himself successfully in an ancient forest for so long that a grove of trees has taken permanent residence on his back.