Next Wave Film Festival Targets Youth
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Next Wave Film Festival Targets Youth

TIFF's newest film festival tries to appeal to teenagers through edgy fare.

Photo courtesy of TIFF.

For those wondering when the organization behind Toronto’s biggest film festival would fill the void for cinematically inclined youngsters maybe not quite ready for the newest David Cronenberg offering, look no further. From May 10 to 12, TIFF hosts the inaugural edition of the Next Wave Film Festival, which targets those aged 14 to 18.

Next Wave will feature special events like the Battle Of The Scores, where high school indie bands score films from a short-film competition open to Ontario students in grades 9 to 12. A set-design challenge will see industry professionals assisting youth groups in building movie backdrops. And let’s not forget the films themselves. With the guidance of an advisory committee consisting of 12 adolescent artists, the program is one that should appeal to developing minds. Here is a look at a couple selections.

Photo courtesy of Visit Films.

Re: Generation
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)
May 10, 12:45 p.m.
May 12, 5:45 p.m.

Answering the question that no one asked, Re: Generation finds out what it would sound like if you crossed The Doors with Skrillex. That’s only one of many strange bedfellows that arise from the film’s premise: making producers and DJs work in musical genres they’re unfamiliar with. The fly-on-the-wall approach allows for a glimpse into the creative processes of some of the masters. The results are notable more for the trials and tribulations of crafting a song than they are for the final output.

DJ Premier, The Crystal Method, Pretty Lights, Mark Ronson, and the aforementioned Skrillex tackle the genres of classical, R&B, country, jazz, and rock, respectively. Each artist is given some impressive talent to work with. While it is fascinating to see how Erykah Badu stumbles onto inspiration, it’s even more entertaining to witness electronic producer Pretty Lights (a.k.a. Derek Smith) attempt to direct octogenarian country legend Ralph Stanley.

The direction by Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story) elevates the film above generic making-of docs. Though the film was produced in association with the Grammys and still retains some of that self-promotional flair, Bar-Lev knows to do nothing more than observe the studio creatures in their natural habitat and allow the inherent fish-out-of-water storyline to keep things interesting.

The Doors’ John Densmore is especially skeptical of Skrillex—he thinks the DJ may just be the robot that he prophesized will one day destroy music. But if even they can work together, then maybe there is some universal lesson here about setting aside differences and meeting on common ground.

Photo by Jérôme Prébois, Frédéric Castelnot and Jean-Louis Vialard

17 Girls
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)
May 12, 12 p.m.

Kids these days! Always rebelling in such imaginatively irresponsible ways. Delphine and Muriel Coulin’s 17 Girls transposes factual events that occurred in the United States over to France, in a story involving a group of 15-year-old girls who join together in a pregnancy pact. The film powerfully evokes that period in adolescence when it truly feels as if the only thing that makes sense is the tight bond between friends.

How this all comes about is a study in social dynamics. The leader of the pack is clearly Camille (Louise Grinberg), an attractive young woman with a penchant for partying, who finds out early on that she is pregnant. Her friends are supportive when she decides to keep the child. Soon afterward, they all hatch a plan to join her in the experience. It’s easier for some than for others. There is a heartbreaking scene in which Clémentine (Yara Pillartz), the late bloomer of the group, offers to pay a classmate to impregnate her. Her self-esteem visibly withers away with each rise in price.

Poised somewhere between the good-girl-gone-bad of Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen and the brutal group murder of Larry Clark’s Bully, 17 Girls is yet another testament to what impressionable minds are capable of when faced with insecurities. One girl, Florence (Roxane Duran), goes so far as to fake her pregnancy in order to gain entry into the enviable clique, which continues to drink, smoke, and kick around flaming soccer balls. The parents are portrayed as understandably adversarial or as a group mob—with the exception of Camille’s, who appear relatively accepting of their daughter’s unintended situation. Though the film ends abruptly, and though its supporting characters lack depth, its tone captures the precariousness of young adulthood.

CORRECTION: May 9, 2012, 11:20 P.M. This article originally stated that the Next Wave Film Festival targets youth aged 13 to 18. In fact, the festival targets youth aged 14 to 18.