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TIFF Next Wave Takes Over The Review
Our committee of high school students across the GTA talks political activism, representation in cinema, and the dankest memes on the internet
"Dear Friend, I'm sorry I haven't written in a while, but I've been trying hard not to be a loser." — Charlie (Logan Lerman), The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Um, Hi. Meet the TIFF Next Wave Committee
By Dasola and Chloe
Um, hi… we’re the TIFF Next Wave Committee, a group of 12 high-school students from across the GTA. We strive to provide a diverse and eclectic lineup of films surrounding themes associated with growing up and finding your identity, and have curated a film festival of coming-of-age movies, taking place the weekend of February 17–19 and featuring a Young Creators Co-lab, movie marathon, opening night party, and more!
At this moment in time, what are you looking for in cinema?
Dasola: Representation, representation, representation. There is no greater validation than seeing someone who looks like you or has had similar experiences represented on the big screen. This goes beyond simply checking boxes for race, gender, or sexuality — it's about having filmmakers and characters that are given the chance to be multi-dimensional and genuine.
What are teens looking for when they go to the movies?
Chloe: The current state of the mainstream film industry is teen-oriented, but adult-driven. Adults make films that they think will appeal to a young audience, but never directly address our desires — they follow the money. Their world is shielded, impenetrable. A weekend celebrating teens is particularly impactful, as it gives young people the spotlight and asks of them, "What do you want to see in a film?"
Watching movies, social media addiction, and dank memes
By TIFF Next Wave
We presented the Committee with a wide-ranging questionnaire about their thoughts on navigating social media and cinema. Here are some of their edited responses:
NEXT WAVE on: The last three movies on their Netflix queue
Chloe: Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Act of Killing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Tessa: Billy Elliot the Musical Live (I’m a nerd, I can’t help it), 13th, and half of Trainspotting
Isabel: Divines, Babies Behind Bars, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ben: Big Hero 6, The Lobster, Rear Window
Alyssa: Sing Street for the fourth time, Chicago for the third time, and Love Actually (I’ve seen this film so many times, I’ve lost count)
Dasola: Tangerine, Notting Hill, and Coming to America for the millionth time!
Christian: Human Planet, BoJack Horseman, and Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
Emma: The White Helmets, The Crucible, Blackfish
Elena: Catch Me If You Can, The Place Beyond the Pines, Clueless
Michelle: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Hobbit, Harold and Maude
Richmond: Trainspotting, The World's End, Clueless
NEXT WAVE on: YouTube guilty pleasures
Tessa: I sometimes get into the depths of YouTube that’s filled with Dateline murder documentaries.
Isabel: Celebrity interviews, chimp documentaries, studies of chimps living in human homes, cognitive chimp trials, shark-attack interviews, shark-attack docs, pregnancy vlogs.
Ben: Do I need to know the entire history of Scientology? No, but because of YouTube, I do.
Dasola: I use YouTube to keep up with other young people who love literature (a.k.a. “BookTubers”). Once upon a time, I thought I could use YouTube to learn how to DIY box braids and I epically failed.
Emma: Mainly for guitar tutorials, but watching Ellen clips is a guilty pleasure of mine.
Elena: I use YouTube mainly to watch BuzzFeed videos.
NEXT WAVE on: How they like to watch movies
Christian: I prefer watching films alone. Even having one other person in the room will take me away from the frame.
Chloe: In theatres, or on a large TV. You don’t get the full experience watching Netflix on your phone!
Isabel: At the theatre, but also in my basement where I have a projector. I like watching with friends if they are respectable movie watchers, but not if they ask unnecessary questions or go on their phones.
Tessa: In theatres, I always sit in the very centre of the back row, right below the projector. This spot is my go-to because it’s cozy, there’s nothing distracting going on behind you, and you can usually put your feet up on the seats. I have an irrational fear of movie-theatre shootings, so this feels like the safest place to be.
Dasola: Being part of Next Wave for the past three years has allowed me to bond with other young people over the many heartbreaking, inspiring, and hilarious movies we’ve watched together. Just the feeling of waiting for the lights to dim is like no other.
Richmond: I hate watching movies with snacks, because it distracts me with the noise and, sometimes, the taste.
Michelle: I like to watch movies in bed with blankets and unhealthy snacks.
NEXT WAVE on: Scenes with infinite re-watch potential
Chloe: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the episode of Arrested Development where Buster uses a crane to extract Gob from the wreckage of the banana stand, only to drop him in the ocean.
Isabel: In 10 Things I Hate About You, Heath Ledger’s “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” flashmob.
Michelle: I will always watch The Office over and over again. My favourite scene is when Michael starts his own paper company.
Richmond: I often find myself rewatching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, due to Edgar Wright's brilliant comedic direction, the playfulness of the universe he created, and the beautiful way Toronto (Bathurst Street, mainly) was filmed.
Emma: Singin' in the Rain. The scene where Gene Kelly sings the title song is iconic!
Elena: A movie I always watch over and over again is Before Sunrise. My favourite scene is where the Celine and Jesse get on a streetcar when they first arrive in Vienna, and ask a series of questions to get to know each other better.
Dasola: My absolute favourite is the “La Vie Boheme” musical number in Rent (2005). There are SO many outrageously wonderful things happening that you have to see for yourself!
NEXT WAVE on: Internet addiction
Christian: My indulgence in social media has been on a steady decline since 2012. All the apps are getting very repetitive and aren’t as rewarding as they once were.
Ben: I was recently watching an interview with Mike Mills, the director/writer of 20th Century Women. He basically suggested that back in the day people would chainsmoke to pass the time. Today, people chain-refresh Instagram.
Dasola: Growing up in the Bahamas, my family and I didn’t use the internet and personal technology as much. At this point, I’m pretty hooked on Twitter and Snapchat just because they’re ways I keep up my friends from countries outside of Canada.
Alyssa: I check Twitter and Instagram constantly. They come in handy when I feel like procrastinating from all my homework and chores. My friends make a big deal about keeping their Snapchat streaks going.
Isabel: I’ve become a lot more wary of the internet and social media in the last few months. My current flip phone status (unhackable = check) is the most enjoyable thing I have going.
Chloe: I deleted my Instagram account, which has helped heaps. I didn’t realize how much time I spent mindlessly scrolling through, until I rid myself of the app completely.
Richmond: I had to get off Snapchat, and uninstall it from my phone. I use Instagram as an excuse to talk to people, but I actually end up using it for two to six hours per day. My family is almost exactly the same, but it's much worse for my older sister.
NEXT WAVE on: What’s good and bad about the internet
Emma: If it weren't for social media, I don't think the Women’s March would have been as big as it was. But if you surround yourself with only people who have the same opinions as you, you may not see opposing points of view.
Ben: Awesome? Because we can instantly share and consume information. Sucks? Because people are so obsessed with sharing that information that we forget to question its validity.
Alyssa: The internet can sometimes make me feel good. There are always cute animal videos, or stories about the kindness and generosity of others that get to me. At the same time, news is rarely good these days with everything that is going on in the United States. I hear about so many tragedies online that can bring me to tears.
Tessa: I think it is such an easy way to get distracted and see things you aren’t interested in, like a collage of pictures of Selena Gomez’s feet. I think that I could have probably learned a language or written a novel in the total amount of time I have wasted using technology in my life.
I also really hate the kind of "slacktivism" that social media can lead to. A lot of people see one story, or a shared post, without really thinking about it, and then they just post long, ranting messages about the issue. While it's an outlet to advocate and spread awareness for certain causes, sometimes a hashtag isn’t enough. We often share internet campaigns like #bringbackourgirls, then never do anything about it in real life.
Dasola: What really irks me is when allies outside of particular marginalized groups speak over those actually being oppressed. It is extremely important to recognize our individual privilege and the importance of just listening to others. An online community that may seem positive for white women may not feel so safe for a Black transgender woman; the same goes for all kinds of intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. While I don’t know what teenagers can do to make the world a better place, I personally make a valiant effort to be a sensitive listener, while also trying to educate myself and respectfully ask as many questions as much as possible.
Christian: It's quite simple really, the internet is awesome because it connects people and it sucks because it makes human connection too easy.
Chloe: I love that social media is something that youth have completely overtaken, that we can create spaces for ourselves, and can have our voices heard on a wide platform to create our own representation. But while social media can spread the word, to actually enact change, you are required to act. You must educate yourself properly about the issues you are passionate about, instead of skimming through headlines on your Facebook timeline. You must support the causes you believe in by physically doing something, instead of just retweeting and sharing videos.
Michelle: The internet makes me feel great because I will never be bored.
NEXT WAVE on: Their fave memes
Elena: Salt Bae is a Turkish chef who went viral for posting videos of himself handing meats with the most passion and intimacy I have ever witnessed. The viral meme is of him sprinkling salt in the most hysterically unnecessary way possible.
Dasola: I’m not sure if the “record scratch” meme counts, nevertheless I love all its variations.
Tessa: One of my favourite memes is a picture of a pan filled with tomato sauce, a single unpeeled banana, and a few Cheerios. The text says, “still think vegan food is boring?? guess again sweaty.” I have no idea why I find this so funny — none of my friends get it.
Chloe: Right now, it is that meme that goes: in (insert language) we say (insert phrase), which roughly translates to (insert phrase) and I think that's beautiful.
NEXT WAVE on: Whether Snapchat could ever replace cinema
Richmond: No one on Snapchat really thinks about the significance of their angles, what emotion it exudes, or what editing and colour grading can contribute to the film. Film has a more everlasting art that can't be captured within the billions of snaps sent regularly.
Elena: I do not think Snapchat, a mobile device application where video clips last a maximum of 10 seconds, can ever replace cinema, which is a century-old art form. I honestly have never heard anyone make that proposition, but I’m assuming it is an exaggeration to emphasize the assumption that teens can no longer sit and watch a movie for upwards of an hour, due to their obsession with apps like Snapchat.
Ben: I think Snapchat perpetuates this culture of constant gratification. On Snapchat, multiple images and ideas appear every second before it's possible to process anything. Cinema is slow; it breathes and takes its time.
Christian: The only thing Snapchat gave to teens was that stupid fucking dog filter, allowing teens to put on a false persona while slightly increasing their attractiveness and lowering their self esteem.
Emma: The internet is a place of inspiration, and many teens use it as a place to showcase their art, connect with others, read, access the news, and so much more! Our minds are not being numbed by our screens!
NEXT WAVE on: What we should be checking out online
Podcast: Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell
Says Chloe: “Gladwell re-examines events from the 1800s up until the 2000s, providing insights on society today. The series is incredibly engaging and informative, his three episodes set on the education system in the Western world had me shook! Plus, he’s Canadian!”
Movie: All This Panic by Jenny Gage
Says Emma: “It's playing at Next Wave and I think it really captures the questions, struggles, and thoughts that come with being a teenager!”
Album: So the Flies Don’t Come by Milo
Says Christian: “A very poetic album that will intellectually excite most people.”
YouTube: Various Channels
Says Richmond: “The Philip DeFranco Show is a great, middleman type of news commentator that you can trust. A couple of good film channels to watch are Every Frame a Painting, Bobby Burns, Nerdwriter1, and Wisecrack. You should also watch Nirvanna the Band the Show on Viceland right now.”
TV Shows: SKAM created by Julie Andem
Says Alyssa: “It’s a Norwegian teen drama, like a more lighthearted version of Skins. Skam is a drama series that follows a different character every season, typically a student attending high school in Norway.”
Says Dasola: “They’re two very different shows that capture something that means a lot to me: meaningful representation of Black girls and women. When marginalized groups are represented on film and TV, it’s often very static. That’s precisely why I appreciate the hilarity of Tracey Gordon’s crew on Chewing Gum and the kickass women of Luke Cage.”
Says Ben: “This is a super helpful site sharing how-to videos and articles on the basics of filmmaking.”
Musical: 21 Chump Street by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Says Tessa: “It’s a 15-minute musical based on a news story by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I first heard it a few years ago on This American Life, but there is a video version on YouTube. It’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you are a Hamilton fan.”
Playlist: Coming-of-Age By Christian Younder
ALSO! We made a zine with original illustrations, articles, and programming info. Check it out here or pick up a copy in person during the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival!