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Funky Forest

TIFF, the organization behind September’s Toronto International Film Festival, announced today two new film festivals directed towards children and youth with a new emphasis on interactive programming, including gaming and participatory activities in a digital environment. The two new film festivals represent an evolution of the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children and Youth, effectively dividing its programming into separate events for two age groups. Running from April 10 through 22, 2012, the TIFF Kids International Film Festival will celebrate special programming and activities for children aged 3 to 13. New for 2012 is TIFF Kids digiPlaySpace, a family-friendly interactive environment which includes interactive installations, learning-centric games, apps, new digital creative tools and hands-on production activities. Also launching this year, the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival runs May 10 through 12, 2012 and engages youth aged 14 to 18 with programming aimed at a teen audience.

“We’ve had the pleasure of seeing our children’s film festival grow at a phenomenal pace into one of the most prominent and respected in the world, one that is extremely successful with children in elementary and middle schools and with teen audiences,” said Shane Smith, Director of Public Programmes, TIFF. ?It’s fitting that as we celebrate our 15th anniversary, we separate our programming into two festivals that allow us to broaden and deepen the selection and experience for each audience, as well as their families and educators. We’re beyond excited to be presenting both the TIFF Kids International Film Festival and the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival this year.?

In addition to premiere screenings of high-calibre feature films and shorts from around the world, special guests, learning workshops and the Jump Cuts competitions, interactive engagement will be a key feature of the TIFF Kids International Film Festival—both online and through on-site activities. Not only will young audiences take over all five cinemas and learning studios of TIFF Bell Lightbox, but for the first time the first floor gallery space will be transformed into the TIFF Kids digiPlaySpace—an interactive playground where children will learn, laugh and be entertained by emerging creative technologies and innovative media experiences. Several installations, games and workshop zones will allow children to exercise their creativity and see first-hand how the future of storytelling is evolving.

A signature of the TIFF Kids digiPlaySpace is the Canadian premiere of Funky Forest, an interactive ecosystem where children create trees with their bodies and then divert the water flowing from a waterfall to keep the trees alive. The health of the trees contributes to the overall health of the forest and the types of creatures that inhabit it. Other highlights include installations from leading interactive play developers Aesthetec Studio, where movement and voice is transformed into light and music; giant green screens that enable children to immerse themselves into the worlds of film and dance; and stop-motion stations that provide the chance for kids to learn the magic of animation.

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