Family Films and Fun: 2016 TIFF Kids International Film Festival AND digiPlaySpace

I think I may have given birth to the next George Lucas. My son has been making videos since he was little. #toddlersandtripods

From early on he’s scripted mini movies, created stop motion animation and made documentary style shorts about topics he cares about like animals and basketball and Star Wars.

His films have become more complex and creative. For now it’s a hobby, but perhaps it will turn into a life passion? C’mon kid—mama wants to rub elbows with Tina Fey and her squad.

When we were invited to preview this year’s digiPlaySpace my son actually passed on a basketball game so he could come along. He has big hoop dreams, so this was clearly something that piqued his interest.

If you live in the GTA and have children in the 3-13 age range, The 2016 TIFF Kids International Film Festival and digiPlaySpace are a must-see-must-do! I had no idea all of this family-centered entertainment was right in my back yard.

If you’ve never been, here’s the scoop:

The TIFF Kids Film Festival will be presenting 139 films from 35 countries. All the screenings and events take place at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, April 8 to 24, 2016. There are films from a variety of genres, rated by age so it’s easy to pick those best suited for your family.

You can check out the full film schedule HERE and buy your tickets online ahead of time.

The festival kickoff party is on Friday, April 8—party begins at 5PM and the screening is at 7PM. Prior to the screening of Oddball, families can enjoy food and lots of fun activities including the digiPlaySpace. (Ticket includes party and film screening.) Find out more HERE.

You don’t have to wait until April for big screen entertainment however. Check out the list of TIFF Kids Classics playing from until April 2nd, as well as Dreamworks Animation offerings including Shreks 1 and 2, Puss In Boots (now that I’m cat owner, I will watch with a new perspective), Madagascar and more.

Arrive early before your movie so you have time to explore the fifth annual digiPlaySpace exhibition. Located on the main floor of the Lightbox theatre, the digiPlaySpace is already open (until April 24th) and ready for you! Tickets for entry into the digiPlaySpace are $10 (free for TIFF members) and can be purchased in a combo package with a ticket for TIFF Kids International Festival films, Dreamworks, or TIFF Kids Classics.

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The digiPlaySpace exhibit has 25 installations from nine different countries. There’s a lot to do! Kids can draw their own video games, program robots, play hockey on a humongous screen and lots more. Learn about the exhibits and the artists right HERE.

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My daughter’s favourite experience was the augmented reality sandbox. 1500lbs of kinetic sand had her entranced. I eventually had to lure her away with a granola bar I had in my purse. As a child with special needs and some sensory issues, there were a number of exhibits that completely captured her imagination and held her attention. So much so, with enough granola bars, we could have spent the entire day there.

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My son highly recommends “The Blu: Encounter” virtual reality experience. He said, and I quote, “It’s the best. It’s literally like you’re under water and there are animals everywhere, but…they’re not in captivity.”

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He brought his new Nikon along to shoot some photos and video which, if he’d remembered the memory card, would be included in this post. He’s bright, but he’s also a grade seven boy. You know, not always the most organized. I’m sure George Lucas forgot to load film into his camera at some point, right?

With (useless) camera in hand my son got to meet Toronto-based videographer Aaron Van Domelen who gave him some tips and words of encouragement. Aaron also showed the kids his awesome exhibit—the Keylight green screen.

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We’re planning on getting to at least one film during the festival this year. Sure, you could easily just take your kids to your local cinema to see a flick—that’s fun too—but the Lightbox theatre has a “film festival vibe” that is so exciting and unique and the films themselves are hand selected examples of beautiful filmmaking from around the world. Not to mention, the theatres are rather posh. I enjoy posh. Plus there will be special guests who will introduce films and be available for question-and-answer sessions following select screenings throughout the festival. You don’t get THAT at the local multi-plex.

See you at TIFF Kids!

Related: Know a child with special needs? You might enjoy this post about “Special Films For Special Kids.”

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by TIFF Kids. Opinions are, as always, my own.

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