WHAT’S ON IN YOUR TOWN: TIFF Next Wave Film Festival

Writing by Sophie Van Bastelear

TIFF’s Next Wave Film Festival is rolling into Toronto this Friday the 17th of February (and goes all weekend),  promises to be chock-full of stimulating, interactive entertainment and education for youth and adults alike.

Boasting nineteen films that are *free* for humans under the age of 25 (and priced at $11.50 – $14 for those with more years under their belt) Next Wave also includes panels with filmmakers, interactive events, film-making workshops, tours of the TIFF Bell Lightbox studio, a fort to hang out in between movies, and more.

It’s a verifiable paradise for a film-lover of any age or creed; it’s paradise for anyone who’s ever been young, really. Next Wave’s overarching theme this year is Freaks and Geeks, inspired by the television show of the same name, and will feature a five-film marathon saturated with youthful poignancy, humor, heartbreak, joy. Next Wave’s website puts it best — there will be “so many feels.”

The festival is curated painstakingly and thoughtfully by twelve unique Toronto-area high school students passionate about different aspects of film and the filmmaking process.

I was lucky enough to talk to five of the badass girls on the committee, who are hilarious, lively, and brilliant. They’re film-lovers, feminists, actors, aspiring producers, photographers, activists, entrepreneurs, just to name a few of their many talents, and while their personal goals for the future vary, they all agree they hope the film industry continues (and vastly improves at) giving minority characters the development and complexity they deserve.

Even as teenagers, they’re doing their part to change the industry. The committee hand-picked films with diverse casts, crews, storylines, and characters from different areas of the world (one, for example, is lauded as Saudi Arabia’s very first rom-com) and promise the program of films — which includes both newer ventures and timeless classics — will be meaningful and eye-opening to all who watch.

Though they adhere to some common themes including youth empowerment and coming-of-age, the films are assorted in structure, subject matter, social values, and cultural significance.

“Toronto should come out to the festival,” said the fierce, filmic, feminist girls I spoke with, not only to be exposed to political and social aspects of the world around them, but also to support young people and the future of the film industry.

Want to learn more? Check out their Facebook event page.

Stay tuned for our interview with several of Next Wave’s insanely cool committee members.


Sophie van Bastelaer

Sophie is a Beligian-American expat currently living in Toronto. Some of her favourite things include rain, TV shows that make her cry, other people’s birthdays, and baking chocolate chip cookies. Find her on Instagram @sophie_rose_vb and Twitter @svanbastelaer and tell her your stories.

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