Alongside the public, school and jury screenings that made a full day of cinema on the Ajyal calendar yesterday, there were a number of other sessions and exhibitions in full swing.
Your editors dropped by the Sandbox digital exhibition space and were in awe of the gadgets, widgets and other complex whimsy that were on display. Whether we were learning about technologies being adapted for people with a wide range of disabilities who need specially designed apps and hardware to assist them in today’s digital world; having crazy bugs crawl up our pants (or, sadly, being squished under our feet); playing on-camera anchor to deliver the news of the day in a full-on television studio set-up; or helping to create a stop-motion film by putting together a toy train, we were amazed and enthralled by the ideas and creativity that digital artists and technicians are putting into their work. Gotta say too that we were hooked on the Magic Mirror installation. It’s a high-tech take on the classic funhouse mirror concept – because, after all, what’s more fun than pulling silly faces and making yourself look ridiculous among friends?
From there, we went to see the Otaku Anime Exhibition, where we unleashed our inner otaku among the many regional anime enthusiasts who are in town to share with us their love of this singular Japanese obsession. Paintings and drawings by extremely talented artists are on display (and for sale, in case you want to take some anime home with you); collections of dolls, figurines and action figures betray the intensity of these anime fans’ fascination for the worlds generated by comic-book artists; and the various wandering cosplay fans in full anime get-up make the atmosphere of the exhibition fantastic fun for all.
On a more serious, but no less exciting note, Ajyal’s Our Children First! forum for industry experts got off to a roaring start yesterday, as about 70 delegates came together for a series of panels that seek to help forge a path forward for media for young people. Yesterday’s sessions covered topics as diverse as media literacy, inspiring change in the world of media production, and the possibilities that are out there for engaging young people with apps and gaming. With a focus on considering how to create media that is appropriate for children and youth from their point of view, rather than following a model in which adults make decisions they think are ‘best’, the discussions are sure to generate discussion and concrete action long after Ajyal comes to a close.