TIFF mounts the second annual Next Wave festival, and we speak to a few of the teens responsible for the programming.
For three days this month starting on February 15, things at the TIFF Bell Lightbox will work a little differently. The reins will be handed over to a group of teenagers, who will decide—and in some cases, create—what is shown on the screens. The schedule at the second Next Wave festival, aimed at those aged 14 to 18, features a wide array of films and events, including a John Hughes retrospective, a Talent Lab where young filmmakers can hone their skills, and a 24-hour Film Challenge that culminates with young artists providing live musical accompaniment in a Battle of the Scores.
Among the highlights in the slate of films are zombie flick Dead Before Dawn 3D and Patrick Read Johnson’s long-awaited ode to all things sci-fi, 5-25-77 (otherwise known as the release date of Star Wars). The latter is screening in an unfinished state and the director is seeking feedback to assist in its completion. The film is a kaleidoscopic coming-of-age story that follows a young man (Freaks and Geeks‘ John Francis Daley) on his roundabout path to meeting his filmmaking heroes and soon-to-be heroes in Hollywood. It’s a little long and rough around the edges still, but has an earnestness that’s hard to resist.
Some of their other picks: a great performance by young actress Olesya Rulin grounds the quirky comedy Family Weekend and the documentary Fame High is an absorbing account of one year at a Los Angeles art school. The lineup also includes international offerings like the Irish space-themed comedy Earthbound, and Bushido Sixteen, a Japanese story of a fencing rivalry between two teenage girls.
In an effort to pick the brains of the panel responsible for helping to shape the program, we sent a questionnaire to three of its members: Nasma Ahmed, 17, from Woburn Collegiate Institute; Julia Galle, 16, from the Etobicoke School of the Arts; and Corina Bizim, 17, from Pickering High School.
Torontoist: When did you first start watching films? Do you remember the first one you saw?
Julia Galle: I’ve always watched films. I can’t remember not watching them. The first one I can remember seeing was Elmopalooza!. Yeah, I was a Sesame Street fan.
What film has influenced you the most in your life and why?
Corina Bizim: Matilda has influenced me the most in my life because she was my first example of a female hero. I wanted to be just like her—the little girl with special super powers who could do anything that she set her mind to.
How did the process of selecting the films for the festival work?
Nasma Ahmed: We spent time watching the movies that were submitted and discussing them. Then at the end of a long—but pleasant—viewing spree, we selected the movies we feel will cater to different types of audiences and represented several countries. This is why we have films from Ireland, Japan, and South Africa.
What film in the festival are you most excited for people to see?
Ahmed: Molly Maxwell because of the interesting take on an odd romance that takes part in our city, Toronto. And Ghost Graduation because of how hilarious it is. It is High School Musical without the music, plus some ghosts.
Galle: I think all the movies are wonderful in their own way. I think people are really going to like Otelo Burning and Family Weekend.
Bizim: I am most excited for people to see Molly Maxwell because of the focus on Toronto talent. I also think it’s a great coming of age story and everyone will be able to relate well to the extremely awkward experience of being a teenager.
What is your favourite John Hughes film?
Ahmed: Sixteen Candles because I remember when I was 16 and how, for some reason, it was the most exciting birthday for me. My family around me didn’t think the same because a birthday was a birthday, but I remember feeling like Molly Ringwald in a sense. Why wasn’t anyone as excited as me? I love how John Hughes portrayed the high school life because I see similarities every day, except we don’t give people our underwear.
Galle: Breakfast Club is my favourite. It’s one of those films that everyone can take from. That movie has an impeccable power to deeply move people who watch it.
Bizim: My favorite John Hughes film is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It wasn’t directed by John Hughes, but it was written and produced by him. I love this movie because I have watched it every Christmas since I was little, and it really reminds me of the importance of family.
What other groups and activities do you participate in?
Ahmed: Outside of school, I love to participate in my community through volunteering and even sometimes politically. I work closely with Free The Children and United Way and have been for years. At school, I am the editor of the yearbook and adviser to the student council.
Galle: I really like to make movies and write scripts. I’ve also been attempting to learn the ukulele.
Bizim: I am really involved with acting and the drama program at my school. Throughout the past few years of high school, I have co-directed and starred in the school plays, which have participated in the Sears Drama Festival. I am currently an actress on Degrassi, and am always attending acting classes and auditions.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ahmed: Well, 10 years is a really long time! I see myself working in the municipal government. I am very interested in policy work, especially when it comes to social programming within our city.
Galle: I’d love to continue making and writing movies. Doing that forever would be ideal.
Bizim: I see myself participating in film festivals all over the world, but on the red carpet side. I hope to be acting in films and television shows for the rest of my life, and to produce movies as well.
This post originally stated that Julia Galle attends the Etobicoke Centre for the Arts. That is incorrect, and has now been fixed.