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TIFF digiPlaySpace 2017

“3… 2… 1… ACTION!” When you hear those words, what comes to your mind? Movies! Do you know where is the best place for movie-lovers? The Toronto International Film Festival of course! On March 11th, Alex, Natalie, and I went to an exclusive preview of the digiPlaySpace exhibition and TIFF Kids Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox— the home of great films, festivals, and special exhibitions.

The TIFF digiPlaySpace is an area that helps to inspire and empower the children through the discovery of robot technology and animation, all by playing with them! It includes 23 installations, games and activities from eight different countries, such as Canada, U.S.A, the Netherlands, Norway, Argentina, etc. The exhibition is now in its sixth year and there were several new things the co-curators are excited about.

“Seeing the the range of technology that has emerged over the last five years has been pretty incredible,” says Elizabeth Muskala, one of the co-curators of digiPlaySpace.

The TIFF digiPlaySpace had specific activities designed for different age groups. Robotics and Coding activities such as Robot Crafting Table and Apple Swift Playgrounds help children develop important skills linked to math, science, reading and writing, and enhance digital skills that are key to 21st-century learning.

MimicWhen we first entered the digiPlay area, we got a greeting from a robot called Mimic,  which is an industrial robot arm that responds to your actions. It follows you when you crouch down or wave, if you make sudden moves, the robot shies away. If it decides that you can be “trusted”, then Mimic will move curiously towards you.

“The artists, Design I/O programmed it with a kind of artificial intelligence so it responds to you like a living thing,” explained Matt Nish-Lapidus, one of the co-curators of digiPlaySpace.

Canada on Green screen is another new film-related pieces allows you to travel across Canada’s famous national parks through the magic of green screen technology.  

Animation Space Station, which turns a series of futuristic scenes into animation.  “We worked with a local artist, John Marts, who is a fantastic illustrator. We made an Animation Space Station experience,” stated Elizabeth Muskala.


Appcade,  which is a learning center that kids and parents can play together by exploring a range of games, creative tools, and storytelling activities on the latest mobile and tablet devices.

Coding Characters With Little Robot Friends is a code-learning activity, where you can use open source software to program a little robot friend to make complex behaviours.  Makes learning code more fun!

One of our favourite games would be Squishy Circuits. We loved the idea that you could make electricity with play-dough, as well as experiment with different circuits. We learned to make complex circuits with multiple parts and switches.  

When the exhibition started six years ago, it was only two weeks. Now it’s expanded to nine weeks. “We would like to see the exhibition expanding, adding more pieces.  We currently tour the exhibition internationally. We’ve already taken the exhibition to China, and it just came back from the Minnesota children’s museum, and it’s going to San Antonio in June.  We want to continue expanding the exhibition in Toronto and be able to introduce new experiences to young people,” said Elizabeth.


Tiff digiPlaySpace has built good relationship and partnership with Sago Mini, Apple, Government of Canada, Parks Canada, etc., it is an amazing place for kids to have a hands-on experience with innovative technology.  We hope you will be excited to explore the potential of technology, just like we did!

The Neverending Story  

Along with digiPlaySpace, we were also given the amazing opportunity to watch a screening of the 1984 hit movie, The Never-Ending Story. The story is based on the novel of the same title and directed and co-written by Wolfgang Petersen. It is a lovely family film with a great message about imagination and dreams.

The movie is about a boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver) who steals a book called the Neverending Story and then proceeds to read it in the attic. The novel is about the magical land of Fantasia that is threatened by “The Nothing”, a mystical darkness that destroys anything it touches. Fantasia needs the help of a human boy to survive. When Bastian reads a description of himself in the book, he starts to wonder if Fantasia is real and is depending on him to survive.

With likable characters and a grasping storyline, it’s hard to dislike anything about the film. One thing to point out is that the animation techniques used in the film were very outdated and ragged-looking. It was very obvious when scenes involved green-screens or animatronics. If we leave aside the old-fashioned animation style, the movie is an easy to understand, fun, family film.

I enjoyed The Neverending Story because even though the movie was made more than 30 years ago, the story is still timeless, and is still enjoyed by kids and adults today.  

Final ThoughtsNatalie, Alex and Samuel at TIFF

TIFF is a wonderful place with amazing films and technology from countries all over the world. It was then turned into a month of spectacular fun for everyone.From films to advanced technology, TIFF has something for everyone. TIFF is truly a 5-star masterpiece!


Meet the writers

Samuel Wang

Samuel Wang

My name is Samuel and I am 10 years old. I go to Springfield Public School and I'm in 5th grade. I am quick and I often finish my work first. I like school, reading and drawing. In fact, you can see me reading most of the time! I like pizza and apple juice. I can swim and I like to play soccer and baseball. I am writing an adventure book now. I hope it will become a hit.

Natalie Su

Natalie Su

Hi, my name is Natalie Su and I'm 11 years old. I live in Toronto, Canada and reading and writing are my passion! More things that I like to do include competitive swimming and playing video games. My biggest inspiration when it comes to writing is Kelley Armstrong. I enjoy reading her YA (young adult) novels and want to be just like her when I grow up. I love writing for Voice K magazine because I get to meet new people and experience new things!​

Alex Min

Alex Min

Hi, my name is Alex and I'm 10 years old. I am in grade 5 and my favorite subject in school is science, I like talking and playing with my friends at school. My hobbies are reading, art, playing the piano, and playing video games. My favorite sport is Snowboarding. I love to be a journalist for Voice K magazine because I like to go to new place and meet new people.

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